Archive for January, 2014

January 1, 2014

Working to Love (January)

This is the season when many around us will be making resolutions for the coming year. Some will resolve to exercise more. Others will resolve to change their diet. Still others will resolve to kick a habit or start a new one. Christians historically have used the season of Lent to make resolutions in their lives, but January 1 is not a bad time to make resolutions. I will be making a resolution that day, and perhaps you have one in mind.

In addition to the examples I listed above, many Christians will resolve to practice other disciplines, which we often call spiritual disciplines. Prayer, meditation, reading Scripture, giving to the poor, solitude, worship to name a handful. Next month we will begin a series on Christian Disciplines. My hope is that we can take time to practice these disciplines as we learn about them.

A vast majority of January resolutions are abandoned by February. There are many reasons why this happens, but we know that if one is not motivated to begin a discipline, it is a hard road to develop the discipline into a habit. We find our motivation to live Christian lives in love, specifically the love of God. Why did God send the only begotten son into the world? Because God so loved the world. God was motivated by love. In turn, we love because God first loved us.

The love of God is often referred to as agape love, an unconditional love that anticipates nothing in return. One just loves because one loves. Some have said that agape love can only be practiced towards an enemy, for only then can one truly anticipate nothing in return. Perhaps this is true. We understand through Romans that no one would die for a righteous man, but for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died. God so loved us when we were sinners, enemies of God, objects of God’s wrath. And through such love, Christ now calls us friends. What an amazing God we have!

Love is a discipline in itself. Love is not just an emotion, but it is an action, one involving a decision. It takes work to love well. It takes practice to love well. Like exercising a muscle or painting beautiful landscapes, we must work hard to learn to love like God loves.

The great thing about love, though, is that you do not need to join a gym or subscribe to a diet plan. Opportunities to love are all around us. Perhaps it is a person who just lost a loved one. Perhaps it is someone homebound longing for a conversation. Perhaps it is the homeless man at the corner in need of a few dollars, but also in need of a friend. God gives us countless opportunities to practice and learn to love in this world. In this season of resolutions, may we as followers of the agape God resolve to love this world like God loves this world.

In Christ,

Pastor Rich