Thursday, July 4, 2013

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Loving people is the second greatest commandment that Jesus left us with. The apostle Paul describes our responsibility to love our fellowman as a debt that is never satisfied in Romans 13:8. We truly do prove our love for God by loving others.

But, Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves. What does that mean?

C.S. Lewis reveals that Jesus was teaching us something very profound when he said those words.

“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man's actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. ...I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life -- namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.” 
 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Disappointment in our own actions proves we love ourselves. Saying, "I hate myself" is really admitting "I love myself, but I hate what I did." How? Because we realize that we are better than that. In the end we want to be good. 

Therefore, we may hate the behaviors of others, but Jesus said we should forgive them anyway and go on loving them, believing that they can do better. They are valuable creations of God.

Just as we discipline ourselves to change for the good, our discipline of others should have the same motivation. It must include love and forgiveness, even if the correction is severe. We must love our neighbor as ourselves. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A real poser.

Take a look at this kid's face.

What kind of look is that? To me he looks puzzled. I wonder what he's stumped about. Someone must have asked him a real poser, but the look in his eyes says the question was terrifying.

Life can be that way too. One day you think you have everything sorted out and then, wham! A puzzling, nagging thought enters your mind and you don't know what to do about it. Should you forget about it? Should you take action? What will happen either way? If you take action, will you regret it? If you don't, will you regret it? Will you mess things up? Will you tell someone else about it? Will you lose credibility in the process? Will your faith stretch and become an example for others? 

The biggest questions of all: Where did the thought come from? Did it come from your own heart or did God pose it? Is it something you want, or is it something you were destined for? Is the thing you want also the thing you were destined for?

Any person who wants to advance in life will experience these kind of posers. That's because they aren't satisfied with the status quo. They realize that life is short and they only have a small window of opportunity to take hold of greatness. 

So, what should we do when ideas and visions pop into our heads?

First, we should ask God for His wisdom. Second, we should ask appropriate people for their wisdom. Finally, if there are no red flags, we should take action and step forward. Even if it all turns out to be a failure or never comes to pass, we can at least say we took the risk and tried. And, we can always try again if we wish, until we succeed. One thing is for certain: If we never try, we will never succeed, and we will never know if that puzzling, nagging thought was something we were destined for.     

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Love of Galadriel

'Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibilnâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dûm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone.' She looked down upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled. And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. Wonder came into his face, and then he smiled in answer.

He rose clumsily and bowed in dwarf-fashion, saying: 'Yet more fair is the living land of Lórien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth!'  —THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE MIRROR OF GALADRIEL

What beautiful language to describe the melting of hatred through the generosity of praise. J.R.R. Tolkien has given us yet another scene we can all benefit from. It is the lesson of Christ — to 'love your enemies.' 

There is power in love! Power to transform the most stubborn of evil persons into a good friend.

If we could only be like Galadriel, we might be surprised at how many who would respond like Gimli. Yet, we are afraid, too fearful to say anything complimentary or sympathetic to those with whom we have profound disagreements. We are so caught up in our differences and deep seated emotions against them, that we will not allow ourselves to be charitable. God help us! What a foolish trap to be stuck in.

Let us break free! Let us open up our mouths and permit understanding to roll off our tongues. May our words be sweet. May we offer a smile to counter the sadness and gloom of our enemies. Let us gaze into their eyes and let them see that our hearts are bigger and purer than they had imagined.

Wouldn't it be wondrous?