Reflection 3: The Choice of Love

“22 And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them and You in Me: that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17: 22-23, Pp. 1046, NKJV.)

In this life we are lead down a path which at first glance tricks our eyes into believing that God does not love us, that we are alone in our pain, in our suffering, in our wants, and in all our trials and tribulations. We question God on his promise, his integrity, and his resolve in his absence in our life in being that all forgiving, merciful god his so called son, (Jesus Christ) talked about in the Bible. Under our breath we rebel against other Christians who have this unbelievable, unshakable faith and become jealous because in our heart of hearts we feel an inexplicable void which permeates our minds and souls, and forces us to ask the following set of question;

How do I rejoice when there is no real reason to in my life to do so?

How do I see the positive things in life when all there is are the negative day-to-day happenings?

Are there some people just born more positive than others? Is there some secret only a select few know about?

As found in John 17, Jesus was describing in graphic detail what he wants for every human on Earth.  He was not however making any promises that you will always feel his love, for that is a matter of faith, a choice to believe in love, and that God loves you beyond all measure.  Jesus was talking about a faith so strong  that there  would be no doubt that God loves you, this is best illustrated by his words, “I in them and You in Me” (Jesus, Pp. 1046). Subsequently there is no scripture which promises that you will always feel loved. Rather each circumstance in your life, within each trial and tribulation you will find if you have faith an unshakable connection with God. Allowing your doubts to vanish into thin air, for the negative things in life will always bring you closer to God. That journey or lesson then becomes unmistakable, exceedingly obvious that you are loved, for that is God’s simply promise. It then becomes your choice to believe in love, to believe in Him.

I told my daughter once that, “the more you love someone, especial your children, the more important that person becomes, the larger role they begin to play in your life. Because of this you cannot replace, ignore, no longer feel love for, or stop thinking about those people that you have allowed to become that important to you, no matter how badly they may have hurt you.”  So, if God made us in his image, allowed us to feel such love for each other, then it becomes an undeniable fact that His love is all around us, even if we do not feel loved by Him. It also becomes a fact that because Jesus said His Father loved us with His whole heart, so much so that God would send His only son to suffer and die to redeem man’s sinful nature, within that singular act it become apparent that God Himself has thus allowed all of us to become so unimaginably important to Him. In that, logic dictates that we are more important to God than we could ever imagine.

So, to answer these questions that make us doubt more completely we must first ask the following questions, “Why allow the negative things to have such an impact on us when we have a loving, forgiving, merciful relationship with God? Why allow such rebellion to seep into our hearts that we would give it such an important place in our life?”

As I travel the world and meet people from other cultures I am always fascinated to find how people are more willing to focus on the negative, annoying, problematic, complicated, agonizing, and even destructive situations in their life rather than to first search for the good within the bad? We as a race chose to first find fault, the proverbial “Why” behind the happening. We need to have a story, a fall guy, a person or people to blame for our own problems. The selective process we go through stops at nothing as we quickly point our fingers and utter the words that hurt feeling, start wars, and even destroy relationships. Few of us can stop before we blame and ask, “What did I do to cause this event?” Or more profoundly,  “What was it that I did wrong or perhaps not wrong but not what I should have done?”  If this was the process we clung too before playing the blame game maybe just maybe our world would be a better place to live in.

“26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty: 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God and, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; 31 that as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1: 26-31, Pp. 1099, NKJV).

Thus, through God we have the power within us to choose to build bridges that will last forever, or to destroy them before they are ever finished. Our choices in this life show more about you, how you handle unpleasant situations, and even how much you complain and moan about things you have no control over. This will ultimately unleash the truth of your character in ways your words would never be able too. In fact if the truth be told, it will be your actions here on Earth that which you shall be judged by more than your words. “Why?” you ask, because, it is your actions that are a reflection of what is truly in your heart. The sad thing is we have a choice from birth, just as Jesus did. We can chose to look at all the wonderful things in life as a daily blessing, even amidst the negative stuff. Instead of getting all down we can chose to say instead,

“Ok, I know there is something good in this pot of bad events dealt me….”

For when we make a conscious effort to find the miracles we find God’s love. No matter how small the miracle is, together they all make one big blessing from God. When we retrain our minds our spirit will take over, and the miracle in this will become apparent…trust me I know from experience. The need to have someone to blame goes away, the driving force to become the enforcer, the judge, jury, and executioner dissipates. The weight is suddenly lifted as it becomes almost effortless to see the good in any situation, just like our Lord and Savior; Jesus Christ did when being nailed to a cross.

One of my favorite stories that illustrates’ this best is the Book of Job. Here is a man who Satan unleashes all of Hell on Earth on. He lost his money, his children, his wife, his animals, his servants; more over his friends mocked him when he refused to blame God for the river of torment within his life. Job instead chose with boils on his skin to fall down before God  and warship Him, thanking Him for all the blessing he saw that God had granted. The real question here is could you do this in your life? Are you strong enough to be a Job?

Another character from the Bible which just amazes me is Moses. Here is a man who was simply born disadvantaged, as a slave. By the grace of God was he plucked from the river and raised as a Prince of Egypt. He learned all the ways of his people’s oppressors, then fell from grace. He found his way in the desert never once blaming God for his misfortune only to find favor, find a wife, have many children, and be so blessed.  As an old man Moses was called by God to free his people, (God’s chosen people). He argued with God, and according to the Bible, Moses had a love hate relationship with God and the people he was sent to free. Throughout the entire process as he was being transformed from being a mere Sheppard into God’s chosen profit Moses was a flawed, doubtful, and very much a sinful man. Throughout his life he had many reasons to curse God but never once did, rather, Moses searched for each miracle of God.  Are you strong enough to be a Moses?

However, the one greatest example God has given to us is that of Jesus. Here is a man who was given a task and carried it out faithfully, even though he knew it would lead him to a disgraceful, hideous, painful, and agonizingly brutal death. Yet there is not one word which that Jesus ever utters which would curse God. All of Jesus’s actions are peaceful and can even be described as being completely filled with love. In fact it is this love for others which Jesus spent more time preaching about more than anything else in his ministry here on Earth. If you take the time to read each passage where Jesus speaks even when he is angry, you can plainly see the love, the forgiveness, the peace within his spirit. It is so profoundly obvious just before he dies on the cross when he asks our Father in Heaven to forgive those who have crucified him. Jesus was willing to ask God for forgiveness of not just those who judged him, beat him, spit upon him,  disowned him, turned him in, and for those who did not believe in him, but he asked God to forgive every last one of us here on Earth. Jesus showed us how to look for the blessings, the miracles in all the bad events of our personal lives. He illustrated how to chose positive expression, to look at our own actions first, to put others first, to be completely beholden to God, to walk with God confidently. There is no other more perfect example found.

When we chose to look at these examples of how to live, how to act towards others we begin to see and to believe in the hidden power of God, the grace of God, and we begin to see each miracle happen, even if we have to experience something negative first. We fulfill the one true commandment left by Jesus Christ,

“35 Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36, Pp. 998, NJKV).

Therefore, we rejoice in the love of God because God’s love gives us purpose and a profound meaning. In doing so we obey God’s law of “Agape Love”,

“10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10, Pp. 1095).

Simply put it is through this good news of God’s never ending love for us do we find the reason to rejoice. When we look within all the dark places of our lives do we receive the insight, the reason God so loved us.  Rest assured the miracle of God is there, but we must make the choice to look for it, look for God’s love, to believe Christ is in us, as God is in Christ. In the face of this evidence I now ask, is there a special knowledge needed, to think positively? Are there just some people born being positive or did they chose to be positive? Within that choice are they freer, happier, and more satisfied with their lives? Thus, with this new insight into God’s mercy, do we now see we have a choice to love each other because God first loved us? He chose to redeem us first?

So for your New Year’s Resolutions I challenge each and everyone one of you to become positive, to make the choice to become more satisfied and let Jesus fill your hearts with his peaceful spirit of God’s most perfect love. Amen

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