What’s Love Got To Do With It?

It doesn’t matter where you live in the world anymore, you will witness some large tragedy while existing in a time in which our “politics” have created unprecedented division. The United States is no longer the sole proprietor of violence and division. Governments are being overthrown, racial and religious divisions are abound, “pro” verses “anti” vaxers are literally fighting in the streets; the world is going mad. Yesterday was the second to last Sunday of the Lutheran Church year and we talked the end times or Revelations. I can’t say that we aren’t entering the “end of time”, because the world has been here before – history has a way of repeating itself. While we think things are bad in our own homelands, they are often minor when compared to other parts of the world. I’d like to suggest that the degree of these events affects our perception of what “bad” means to us. For some, it means having to fly commercial instead of by private plane and to others it means not knowing where their next meal will come from.

There are so many parts of the world that truly have it “bad” but we don’t see it or know someone there so it is easy not to think about it or take action. Each of us, no matter what part of the world we live in, is affected by all of these events which can alter how we feel about other people. Religion, race, sexual orientation, political party or its sub-party are just a few ways that someone else defines us. When we begin a sentence by labeling someone first, it shows that our mind is closed. I’m certainly not suggesting that we blend all of our thoughts and beliefs together into one, but we must guard against putting everyone in the same category because they share similarities. To quote from the movie Shrek, “people are like onions, they have layers”. As we get ready for Thanksgiving in the United States, I encourage everyone to think about being truly thankful for the blessings in your life and ask yourself “have I been a blessing to others?”

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

The two verses that precede today’s verse from Colossians 3 are: “12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” The title of this section in the chapter is “Living as Those Made Alive in Christ” – a set of directions if you will. There isn’t really a lot of room for interpretation in verses 12-14, they seem straight forward to me. Love is the most important virtue. We’ve all heard the expression that “love makes the world go around” but somewhere over the years we seem to have forgotten that. 

We are all afraid of what “they” might do to us. We stereotype people and sensationalize events to make a point. We confuse one act of demonstration for another act of violence or insult. We need to start looking at life and circumstances through the eyes of Jesus, being cautious and vigilant, but with love and compassion. Political issues strain our relationships and cause more distress while religious, racial and sexual orientation stereotypes cloud our understanding and judgment. We are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved”. We need to start acting like it. Despite all of our disobedience and selfish ways, God found a way to bring us closer to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. It was Jesus’ act of love that paid the ultimate price for our sins; let it not be in vain.

Division

I’m trying something a little different this week by using a larger block of scripture. For the past few weeks, each week, I have had new followers join this blog; many from countries outside of the United States. I truly appreciate everyone who receives this and passes it along to others. I started this blog five years ago as a precursor to finishing my still “unfinished” book but it grew into something that I never imagined possible. Spreading the joy and peace of God’s Word has been incredibly fulfilling. This is one of the spiritual gifts that God has blessed me with; despite what my high school English teachers said about my writing skills. We all have gifts; do you know what yours are?

The last verse talks about divisions among us. As we move through our days of uncertainty, strife, fear, hopefulness, peace, enlightenment and hopefully a little joy; we seem to be constantly bombarded with people trying to divide us. Liberal, conservative, socialist, capitalist, patriot, immigrant, “one of them” or “one of us” are all labels that are being tossed around without consequence. These divisions are creating chaos and in chaos, terror lives. High school kids being afraid to go to school or who hesitate when the fire alarm goes off is not a result of peaceful society. I urge everyone to carefully consider using labels or engaging in divisive dialog. Know your facts before repeating what you hear on your favorite news channel or read on the internet. Please look for context and understanding of the subjects you are about to debate; avoid extremes. United we stand, divided we fall! No matter what the subject is, division and chaos are never the best outcome.

6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”  1 Corinthians 1:6-10

St Paul was reminding the people of Corinth that God is with all of us until the end and that we shall be guiltless on the day that Jesus calls us home. This verse should give us all so much peace. God has given each one us spiritual gifts to use while we are here on earth. Some of you have musical talents, some have creative talents, some math skills while others are blessed with athletic talents. EVERYONE has spiritual gifts. God is using each of us, directly or indirectly, to spread the good word; witness our faith; or demonstrate Christian living. Do you see how you are fitting into God’s plan? If you don’t see it, take time to reflect on how God has worked in your life and how you are working in the lives of those around you.

St. Paul was also urging the people of Corinth (and us) to remain united in faith. While there are many denominations of Christianity, we all remain Christians. I mentioned earlier that it is in chaos where terror lives and the devil loves chaos and terror. When we start to doubt God’s presence, the devil is ready to exploit our doubt. When we no longer see God in our lives, the devil starts to “help us see” our own understanding. And, when our faith in God or mankind or each other is fading, the devil is standing ready to give us false hope. These are trying times and we all must be strong to resist the chaos and embrace the peace and hope that we HAVE in God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.