Tag Archives: Love

You Are What You Love!

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You are what you love! Interesting thought, isn’t it? It’s one that has been causing me to think quite a bit about the way we teach and disciple others. Notice that it’s not what we think, but what we love that forms us. It’s not that our mind is not important, but there is more to us than just the intellect. And thus, this is why James K. A. Smith has written extensively about what shapes us as humans.

So what do you love? The answer might not be so obvious. Naturally, for those of us who follow Christ, we would tend to say “Jesus.” But what we really love can be see from our actions. It’s not just what we say we love, but what we do that displays where our affections lie. And not only do our actions display what we love, but they also reinforce what we love. Our “cultural practices,” writes Smith, can be dangerous “when we fail to realize that these aren’t just things we do but things that do something to us.”

We must realize that what we do daily changes us. “Our deepest existential hungers,” according to Smith, “are being trained and habituated (“automated”) without our realizing it.” And the tragedy is that what our culture trains us to hunger and thirst for will never satisfy. So what do we do? We change our habits. “You can’t just think your way to new hungers,” writes Smith. It requires changing what you do which in turn, recreates new desires and new loves.

So you want to be conformed to the image of God? According to Smith, it’s more than just thinking God’s thoughts after Him. It is also desiring what He desires. But to learn to desire what God desires must be bigger than just an intellectual exercise. It must also involve the body and imagination. And for Smith, it is worship that accomplishes this. “Christian worship doesn’t just teach us how to think,” writes Smith, “it teaches us how to love, and it does so by inviting us into the biblical story and implanting that story in our bones.”

It is our gathering to worship in which God calls us, communes with us, listens to us in prayers of worship and confession, and then sends us out to live in obedience to His word that we are shaped and then led to love Him. It is in worship that we are led to see the beauty of who God is and what He has done along with His desires for His creation. And as this captures us, it moves us. Thus, the importance of the act of worship both weekly with a local church and privately each day.

Smith shares a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery which seems to capture much of what he is writing about and hopefully of what I have tried to briefly mention above. Antoine writes…

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

“You Gotta Love Other People”

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One of the most influential persons in my life was my grandfather, A.D. Wheat. Today was his birthday. Though he passed away several years ago, there are not many days that pass by in which I don’t think of him and the life he lived in front of me.

One thing that my grandfather always told me was, “You gotta love other people!” But this was more than just something that he talked about it. He lived it!

Before my grandfather passed away, he tape recorded many of his life stories and adventures. Paige, my wife, transcribed them into a book we put together so we could give it to our kids. Below is one of the stories he told. It’s of one of his many visits to those who lived in the nursing home. As I reread this story of his today, I was struck again of how blessed I am that God would put a man such as my grandfather in my life. How blessed I am!

I used to go and visit many of the nursing homes. There was one lady who was in one of them who never smiled. She just looked terrible. The ladies at her table said she was a grouch and to not pay any attention to her. So, I thought, “She’ll be my challenge now!”

I finally got her to where she would let me have her ice cream. We had ice cream socials every Monday at 4pm. I would go over there and she would give me her ice cream Well, the others in the nursing home couldn’t understand it.

One day, my church had some Day Lilies that many people had given to the church in memory of some of their family. The gave them to me to take over to the nursing home. When I went over there, this lady was the only one in the dining area. So, I walked over and put the first Day Lily on her table.

“Who’s this for?” she asked.

“It’s for you,” I said.

“For me?”

“Sure!”

“Well, it sure does show that some people love me!”

“Sure, we love you!”

A week or two later, I was back in the nursing home and was told that this lady was really sad because she lost her car due to her driver’s license being taken away. So I went over and began to talk with her.

“Nobody loves me,” she said. “I should just go away and die. I’m no good for anybody.”

“Yes, you are,” I said. “You always save your ice cream for me. I think the world of you.”

And then, I hugged her. 

Later on, I was told that I really cheered her up. I really like doing those kind of things.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7-8).

Do You Find People Interesting?

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To love one another is a common command in Scripture. In fact, if you were to ask any Christian what a core principle of following Christ might be, they would no doubt probably mention loving others.  Just consider the following verses…

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8).

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22).

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).

But what does it mean to love others? Though there are many things that could be written, I just want to mention one idea that, for me, is important to consider. And it is this: be interested in others!!!

The idea of being interested in others moves loving others from the abstract to the concrete. For me, it’s easy to love others from a distance. To get up close however, is altogether different. To know another’s story and to be responsive to it is where love moves from the classroom to the field.

So how do we love and show interest in others? Here are a few thoughts…

1. Realize that people are interesting!

There are no boring people! I know that’s hard for some of us to imagine, but it’s true. C.S. Lewis writes that “there are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” He reminds us that “the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.”

2. Understand that it’s not all about you!

There is a tendency in us to find our jokes funnier, our stories more interesting, our days busier, and our pain and hurt more severe than those around us. So as a result, since we are the “life of the party,” its important that others make way for our schedules and listen to what we have to say.

We have to be reminded therefore, that we are not the center of the universe. God is! And since it’s not about us, but about Him, then humility should characterize our life. We should have the mind and attitude of Christ who gave himself up for us. Our lives should be one of self-sacrifice.

Paul wrote: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8).

3. Ask “How ya doing?” and then listen!

When we ask how those around us how life is going for them, is it just chatter? I know many times asking “How are you?” can be a greeting in which we really do not expect an open and honest answer (Therefore, maybe we should come up with a different way of greeting others and save that question when we really desire a response).

As we do ask “How are you?” to others, however, are we ready to listen? And I mean really listen. I think we might be amazed at how many of those around us are just wanting to be heard. So listen to them. Be patient. Hear their stories.

4. Be careful not to devalue the response of others.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and were excited to tell them something that had happened to you only to have them say, “Oh yeah, I’ve done that!” or “Yea, that happens to me all the time”?

Or, maybe you are talking about some calamity (maybe how you broke your arm) only to hear someone say, “Oh yeah! You think that’s bad, you should hear what happened to me!”

You probably have not only encountered such interjections by others, but have done them yourself. Our fallenness always seems to want to one-up everyone else and when we do, we devalue not just their story, but them. It’s as if we are saying to them, “Your story or what has happened to you is not that big of deal…at least not compared to my life.”

5. Pray for others.

You cannot love others without praying them. If you are really interested and concerned for those around you, praying is one of the best things you can do for them. This is not a revolutionary idea. Nonetheless, it is vital. Plus, when you pray for others, you might discover that you want to know more about them so you can pray more specifically.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).

 

 

Disordered Love

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This is why we need the gospel…

The greatest disordered love of all is our confident but false hope that our love for things in the world, despite their goodness and desirability, can satisfy the need we have for loving union with God.

Given our own ignorance and the deceptions of our surrounding culture, it is very easy for us to be forgetfully intoxicated with the creation but without the Creator, especially as “lovers of self, lovers of money…[and] lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:2-4)

We should love God, people, animals, places, and things the way God, people, animals, places, and things should be loved. Nothing but frustration lies ahead if this order is reversed. Happy, then, is the person who comprehends and loves all things in their proper places in their proper ways.

Reordered Love, Reordered Lives by David Naugle (p. 51-52)