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Loving as God Loves Us Ron DeBoer 5/6/2013
I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!
Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.
Your unfailing love will last forever.
Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens (Psalm 89:1-2, NLT).
It struck me the other day in church that we do a lot of singing about God’s love and faithfulness, but do we really put the words we’re singing into action at work, school, or our place of influence? There’s a famous story about all the pastors and religious leaders who were going to a big conference in Los Angeles about love. A group of college research students staged a series of “stations” along the way to the conference in which people were in peril—a car accident, a person passed out on the sidewalk, someone screaming for help. Nearly everyone heading to the conference failed to stop and help, worried instead about missing the keynote address about love by a notable religious leader that was to kick off the conference!
I am no better. A few years ago, I wasn’t a half-hour out of a beautiful Easter church service, having sung the hymns with tears in my eyes, when my sinful nature and the distractions of the world got the best of me. Driving down a congested highway where a lane on the right had ended, the driver of a car approaching from the rear decided to drive on the shoulder to the front of the line before edging his way into the lane—in front of me! I wouldn’t let him in. I inched forward so my bumper almost hitched onto the car in front of me. Why should this guy avoid the fifteen-minute wait we all had endured and go straight to the front of the line? He continued to angle in, gesturing to me in exasperation about my unwillingness to let him in, and I continued to feel my temperature rise. Then I looked in my rearview mirror at my four daughters’ faces, and I felt shame wash over me. What was I modeling to them about love? I had just come out of a church service ringing with words of sacrifice and love for others, and I can’t even sacrifice ten feet of blacktop to let this guy merge in front of me? Maybe he had a young family and today’s lateness for work would get him fired. Maybe he was driving to the apartment of his college-aged son who had messed up and needed help. Or maybe he was just a selfish guy who didn’t want to wait. Did it matter? Was I to judge and make decisions about my love for others based on my own personal criteria?
I sing about the “unfailing love” of God as written in Psalm 89 but struggle to dole out little chunks of love.
If you’re looking for a tune-up in the “loving your neighbor and focusing on Christ” department, read the book of 1 John. A snapshot from 1 John 4:7-10 is worth displaying in a prominent place in your busy life:
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (NLT)
What happened to the guy trying to cut in front of me? I softened and waved him in. No, he didn’t give me a wave of thanks, but I felt better, despite the gesturing of the guy behind me who was upset I had relented!
As I sit and write this on a quiet spring morning, the story seems frivolous and small against the world’s complex backdrop of violence, financial distress, and broken relationships. But life is full of these little opportunities to show love, make sacrifices, and provide an extra measure of patience. Jesus did all of these things. In fact, he gave up his whole life to teach us about love and forgive our sins.
To end our time together today, listen to Hillsong’s I Could Sing of Your Love Forever. May the words sink into our hearts so that they become more than a mere song.
Ron DeBoer is a writer living near Toronto.
“When our church was looking to replace pew Bibles we wanted a translation that was both accurate and understandable. After much research, we chose the NLT. It combines accuracy and understandability like no other translation.”