Friday, June 8, 2012

The Magnificent Obsession

When it all comes down to it, everything we are and everything we do as disciples of Jesus and slaves of God comes down to only one thing: love.  It’s all about love. 

 We love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength – this is the most important thing in the universe.  And the second is like it: we love our neighbors as ourselves.  This part is a LOT harder! 

 God is always loving, kind, patient, wise and giving.  But when we try to love our neighbors, they often prove to be difficult - even though we are trying to do what’s in their best interest!  People are selfish, they’re lazy and filled with excuses.  They will be slow, they’ll be late, they’ll be lazy.  They often won’t even bother to say thank you.  In fact, quite the opposite – they killed virtually all the prophets (including even Jesus our Lord).  Can you imagine?  Jesus left heaven, for crying out loud!  It’s not like he left Newport Coast to go to Tijuana, he left a place millions of times better to go to a place millions of times worse … and the thanks we gave him was to murder him for his troubles. 

 Loving people isn’t liking them, nor is it enjoying them, nor is it a way to get them to like you back.  That’s NOT love, it’s friendship, manipulation, relationship.  It’s a trade we make when we give up something to get something back.  We are nice so that they’ll be nice back.  This is the way the world works.  Pay attention to young people who are freaking out about marriage and dating and relationships, and you’ll see someone who will trade almost anything just not to be alone and to have a friend.  It’s pitiful, but that’s how weak we are. 

 So why bother?  Why even try to work with people at all? 
 I’ll quote some old songs:
“because he first loved me.”

“Why did my Savior come to earth, why choose a lowly birth, why on the cross be lifted up?  Because he loved me so.” 

 We owe God so much, the least we can give is our best.  How can we, who have received SO MUCH grace, not also extend grace to others?  How can we expect God to continually be patient with our failings, our flakiness, our laziness … but we aren’t patient with others? 

 We pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” 

  This is my failure and my obsession
It’s my failure because so many times I’ve been lazy and negligent.  It’s my failure because having been forgiven of that, I then become judgmental and harsh. 
It’s my obsession that I don’t remain that way!  I WANT to know Christ … I want to be as loving as he was, as forgiving as he was, and as devoted to rescuing others as he was. 

 I hope you’ll review again the stories in Matthew 24:42 – end of Matthew 25.  Do you see that we prepare, and we give and serve and invest … all for one reason?  It’s all about love.  It’s all about compassion.  Love is expressed by diligence, hard work, preparation and wisdom.  Please join me in this magnificent obsession … to become the Jesus version of ourselves … to love completely and passionately – even those who are failing and weak.

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