Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about love. The past three weekends of driving gave me plenty of time to listen to music- and everyone knows that love songs are universal. Why was I driving so much? To go to friends’ weddings and focus on… Love. I went to work last week, one of my new co-workers had just gotten engaged, my boss’s son had just gotten married, and she pleasantly informed me that no one leaves this job without getting engaged (all I can say is that I guess I’m keeping this job for a long time?). I saw the movie UP on Friday and “aww”ed at the cute old couple.
Anyway, you get the picture. It has been amazing and wonderful to see couples sincerely embarking on the adventure of marriage, and it never ceases to strike me as a gift that two people would find each other, and furthermore that they would be willing to show love and be self-sacrificing out of sincere care for another person.
I was feeling a little skeptical about this whole love thing happening with anyone who isn’t God, and especially wondering where we are supposed to draw the line for someone not our spouse… and then I went to church this morning.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Mr. Fogle outlined these verses as “Three Impossible Missions.” Not initially encouraging, but the way he explained it was superb. These aren’t things that are optional, but rather, commanded. Why would God command this? Really, why would He command anything? Because He knows way better than we do and He sincerely is thinking of our best interest.
We are to rejoice always, not because of what’s going on here on earth, but because of the connection we have with Christ. We have hope, we have a future- what’s a little trouble now? What is there that God can’t handle? We do this by actively abiding in Christ. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, but so true- it is complete submission of the will to trust God that it’s going to work out all right. And Paul even repeats the command to rejoice, so I would say it’s pretty important.
Secondly, we are commanded to be gentle to everyone. What exactly does that mean? Roll over and die whenever anyone else wants to impose their own will? I don’t think so. Acting in gentleness means showing generosity, forbearance, consideration for others, magnanimity, sweet reasonableness, selflessness, and charity to name a few. Why? Because our time on earth is short, and judgement will come. Therefore, we want to show other people the amazing thing we have before it’s too late. It is asking us to personify Christ if we call ourselves Christ followers. Not a difficult command to swallow because this isn’t the first time we’ve heard it (think Eph. 5)… but it is a tall order. We definitely aren’t equipped to handle it ourselves.
This leads us to the third command that shows us what to do since we can’t do things on our own: give it to God. Just ask. He knows what you need and when you need it, but he wants to hear from you. Why? Because it shows that you are depending on Him and trusting in faith that He is able. And it’s not just dumping your problems on God- it’s thanking Him too and making a habit out of it. You wouldn’t just tell your best friend all your problems without expressing gratitude for their attention, concern, and wisdom. Pray, but don’t just say words; petition God, be sincere in what you are saying. Why should we do all this?
Because He wants to grant us peace… the kind of peace impossible to find in this world. I’d say it’s more than a fair trade. We’re commanded to rely on Him to do what He wants us to do and ultimately reflect well on what He has taught us. Pretty cool stuff.
Think of the kind of effect this would have on the world if everyone sincerely took this to heart.
We’d have some really joyful people, overflowing with goodness and pure selfless love that would spread with all the beauty and power of the dawn.
So how much is too much when it comes to living love? There’s no limit for us, because God doesn’t offer a limit to His love =)