Jeremiah 32:37 “I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them.” Last night one of my boys started whining about his dinner, and he demanded that we swap it out for another dish. I turned to him and said “why don’t we try that again. Can you say please?” Now how my son sees me is important to me not because of the impact on my sense of self-esteem, but because I know that having an attitude of respect, of gratitude and of love are ultimately good for him. It will help him work well with other people; it will give him psychological resilience in tough times, and provide him a much happier existence. When I was a kid, I didn’t really understand why God was so desperate for my worship. “Is he so insecure that he needs my affirmation?” But the bible says that he desires our worship because it is good for US and our descendants. He loves us too much to let us become spoiled brats that don’t understand the true cosmic order of things. Dear God, thanks so much for loving me so much. Thank you for giving me one heart and one purpose. I align myself to the reality that you are worthy to be praised today. I know you never stop doing good for me. I know you find joy in doing good for me. After wandering so far, you’re so good to faithfully and wholeheartedly replant me right in the center of your presence. Thank you for your discipline and your sacrifice. In your son’s name, Amen.
A famous rabbi once said that “you can only ever truly love yourself, and the way to love others is to include them in your sense of self.” Most members of modern society associate love with the passionate feeling that arises from romance, but scripture presents this “eros” as just one form of love. The three other words for love are “storge” (between family), “philia” (between friends), and “agape”, the wide-open love that comes from seeing someone else as an extension of yourself. It’s no coincidence that the world’s most quoted truisms also reflect this reality. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I guess this is why it is so natural to love our children. My boys are literally an extension of me. They look like me. They have my DNA. They are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. I’d die for them in a heartbeat. And I suppose it feels harder to love people the further they get from that sense of being like me. But the biblical call is to love EVERYONE as an extension of ourselves because that is what Jesus did for us. Recently God has been challenging me in this regard, and the other day he led us to “adopt” a child (providing financial support) through Compassion International. I believe God calls us to give until it hurts, but at $38/month this is a great way to get started, and I’ve heard great things about Compassion as a reputable and well-run organization. God, you are so good to adopt me as your son, even when I turned my back on you. I know I have been designed to live in unity with you and with the people around me. We are one body. Please help me align with this reality so I can more truly love people, as you first loved me. In your son’s name, Amen.
Luke 12:33 “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” I’ve always considered myself a relatively generous person, but I feel that God has lately been speaking to me about how much more I need to do in this arena of life. I recently started reading Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love”, and it’s really helped crystallize the view from upstairs. There is a clear mandate in scripture to give generously to those in need, and if we truly have an eternal view, why wouldn’t we take this to its logical conclusion and give until it hurts? As Pastor Francis notes… “The concept of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful … and nearly unheard of.” Dear God, you’re opening up a new chapter in my understanding your will for us as givers. We love, because you first loved us and how can one love without giving? The two are so tightly aligned. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son…” As an outflow of the crazy love you have expressed for me, I cherish the opportunity to express that to others. Please speak to me clearly, and I commit to submit my plans to your will. In your son’s name, Amen.