Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Love

We have come to that day when we talk about the one we love. Let's keep in mind this is an extremely painful day for some who have loved and lost, or who have not know love at all. This is the day when I take time to celebrate the love of my earthly life, Sarah who has put up with me for nearly 12 years of marriage. Without her the ministry God has given me would suffer, and without the support, I would have long given up. This is the day when we love the lovelies in our lives, break out the flowers, chocolates, and other tokens of affection.

I wonder today about how this Valentines love translates into our relationship with Christ? More specifically how we show love for those who God loves. On the list of greatest loves of my life, behind, God, Sarah and family is this thing called the church. For nearly 11 years I have had the opportunity to experience the love of church. There has been opportunity to laugh together, cry together, even have some debates and arguments along the way. Whether it has been in Farmington, NY, Wolcott, NY or in Cortland NY, I have loved being a leader in God's church. I wonder is those in the world around us get to experience that same love? Sure anyone can make the choice to join in the life of a church. Yet often when people think about the church, they do not think love. In fact increasingly when people think about love, the church is not even part of the thought process. Could it be that the church, the people, have lost their love for the people of God who are not yet a part of the church?

Sometimes they are called the unchurched. I have heard the term unconvinced. In some circles the words used are pagans, ungodly or lost. All poor ways to describe those who have not yet become part of the community of God known as the church. No matter how these individuals are described there is a simple truth related to them which the church must pay attention to; our passion for seeing new people engage the community of God is severely lacking. While there are some, not many people feel like they do not want any more people to attend their church. Even fewer people do not want to see more people come to have a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet in the group designed by God to accomplish this purpose we often have no passion, or willingness to live in such a way that we connect and invite others to experience the community of God.

I could list a whole bunch of excuses I and many others have used as to why this is the case. They are simply that excuses. What is comes down to is love. We love those who love us. More often we love those who do something for us. This is a common understanding, yet not a biblical one. With his lifestyle Jesus challenges us to love everyone. Those who love us, those who are not sure about us, those who we consider unlovely. On this Valentine's Day think about the people in your life, by acquaintance or notice that you deem unlovely. Show them love. This Valentine's I think it is time for a heart transplant for the church. We must get rid of our heart of exclusion, and replace it with a heart which shows love and beats for those who are not a part of the community of God. This is not about building the church, it is about helping others to experience Jesus Christ through the power of community which is centered on him. May we look back at this Valentine's Day as the day when it all changed. When hearts were turned to show the love of God to all those in the world. When the church of Jesus Christ became impassioned once again for those who are not yet a part of the community of God in its fullness.

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