Conditional Love?


A reoccurring thought keeps coming to my consciousness, do we love people the way Christ taught? Do we love people like God does? I fear we don’t.

If we look objectively at our local church out reach and our global mission out reach I believe we will find the following to be true.

We tend to love only those we think we can add to our particular brand of Christianity, and get credit for doing so.

Quite an indictment huh? Is it fair? I believe so. Please notice I said “we”, I must include myself to my shame.

What do we do as a Christian community to feed the hungry, with no strings attached? In the context of the churches of Christ, why is it true that our benevolence is mostly received by other church of Christ people? (The same is true of other church groups)

Even some of our evangelistic efforts are done under the guise of wanting to “help” the people. The truth is we wouldn’t give them a second look if we knew we had no chance of eventually baptising them.

I think what Jesus had in mind, even the radical idea of loving our enemies, was to put our love in shoe leather with no hidden agenda. 

I recently got an object lesson in how to love from a group of Catholic high school boys from Manhattan, NY. The Xavier school, of Jesuit Catholics, were on their third trip to Bayou La Batre to help a small group of church of Christ people reach out to their community. There were about twenty boys with three teachers and an administrator. Each had raised his own support for the trip and they each paid $30 per day to the Hemley Rd church for food and lodging, such as it is. (No heat or air conditioning). And, they provided the money for building materials and brought a contractor with them on loan from Habitat for Humanity. They worked very hard for a week repairing homes.

Some of these boys have been back on their own, at their own expense three or four times. Their only motive is to help the hurting, to love people like Jesus taught.

While I don’t agree with their theology, I fully agree with the way they love in Jesus stead as they understand his teachings.

There have been several other groups who are not church of Christ people, who have come and given themselves to the people of the Bayou in remarkable ways whose only apparent motive was to serve others.

Let’s see….when was the last time I volunteered my time to help a Catholic relief effort or even less threatening, when did I volunteer at a local soup kitchen or work on a house with Habitat for Humanity?

Perhaps I still have some “Crazy Love” paragraphs bouncing around in my brain after reading Francis Chan’s challenging book. Whatever the reason I am not too happy with the way I love others or the way my people do.

Conditional love? I don’t think so…

Royce

How’s Your Love Life?


If I do all the religious stuff expected of a faithful Christian, and don’t love others I have failed. If I attend every church service, take communion every week, say my prayers daily, do my daily Bible reading, give more than 10% of my income, and am not a lover of men, I wasted my time. If I am respected in my community, good to my wife and kids and don’t care about the needy, I am lacking.

Even if I surpass the usual church member and become a skilled orator, and give great prophecies, understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, become a favorite on the lecture circuit, and become known as a man with great faith, I have accomplished nothing unless I am a lover. If persecution comes and I become a martyr for my faith, I have really done nothing unless I have loved along the way.

This is the bar set by Jesus, the fleshing out of the two greatest commandments, Love. It is pretty clear that loving God is more than being a model church member and being right about doctrine, giving more than others, and doing more than is expected by others. It is a very high standard indeed but is intended to be the “normal” Christian life.

Am I patient and kind?
Do I envy or boast?
Am I arrogant or rude?
Do I insist on my own way?
Am I irritable or resentful?
Do I rejoice at wrongdoing?
Or, do I rejoice with the truth?
Do I bear all things?
Do I always believe the best?
Do I hope all things work out for good?
Am I one who endures anything?


Does my wife think so?
God knows the truth.

If I, with God’s enabling, am able to become one who loves unconditionally I will not be a failure, ever. How am I doing? Ask those who know me best. I give myself perhaps a C+. God is at work in me though, both to will and to do His good pleasure. There is hope for me and there is hope for you.

Because the Spirit of Christ lives in us, who have been born again, we have the potential to be the person God wants us to be. Because He is in us the following should come out of us in our daily living.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

The whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

How is your love life? The answer is not “try” harder, but rather “rely” harder.

Learning to love,

Royce

 

 

So, you want to know God’s will?


Here’s a post from the Grace Digest archives dated Tuesday, July 25, 2006

So, you want to know God’s will?

I have good news for you! He wants you to know His will.

Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” NKJV

The Amplified Bible puts it this way; “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”

You might want to check out the “therefore” of verse one. In the preceding chapters God’s mercy and grace are explained in great detail.

Do you have Romans 12:1 down yet? If so you are on you way to knowing God’s will. Verse 2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

In the Bible a sacrifice usually means death. Are you ready to die to your will and motives? Are you willing to be set apart for God’s purposes? The Bible says this is “reasonable”, not “unreasonable”. It is worship to completely surrender to God. He shows up when we give up!

So, do you still want to know God’s will?

His peace,
Royce

It is finished. Really it is!


From the gospel of John we learn that from the cross, just before Jesus would finally die, He said “It is finished”. What was finished? The righteous demands of a Holy God had been fully met and the wrath of a Holy God against sin had been exhausted. The sin problem common to every human was eternally solved. “It is finished.”

“When He (Jesus) had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..” (Hebrews 1:3) Having referenced several versions of the Bible, each of them agree on what this awesome verse says. First Jesus “purged” our sins. Some versions use the word “cleansed”, some ‘purified”, but each offers the same meaning. HE fixed our sin problem. And each of the versions I referred to correctly translated the tense of the verb to be the “past tense”. There is no process involved, it is a finished work. “Purged”, “cleansed”, or “purified” all happened in the past and are done.

The writer to the Hebrews again and again affirms this glorious truth.

  • Once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:26,27)
  • “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12)
  • “Once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:26)
  • “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28 )
  • ” We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”  (Hebrews 10:10)
  • “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12)

And if that were not enough to convince anyone who reads the text, the final, convincing truth is found in Hebrews 10:14. ” For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Jesus Himself by living a perfect life and presenting a perfect sacrifice to God on behalf of estranged sinners has “once for all” fixed the sin problem for everyone who puts their trust in Him. There is no righteous act, no penance, no sacrifice, no reform, no personal proof, no suffering, that can add to what Jesus has already accomplished on your behalf.

When God looks at one of those dear ones, who are together the bride of Christ, He sees that one perfect. Perfect until you mess up? No way! In simple terms your perfection is “eternal”. Thus Paul could say with confidence in Ephesians 1:4 “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

Take a deep breath and relax child of God, you have a lot of living to do! What you don’t have to sweat is your sins. They are gone! It is finished! Yes, of course we still sin, but our sins are not counted against us any longer. (Romans 4:7,8 ) It is because of this grace knowledge, this abundance of mercy, that we learn to say no to sin. We are no longer slaves to sin, we have been set free.

The penalty of sin is death. Jesus died in your place. God is satisfied.
The power of sin is the law. It was nailed to the cross.
The presence of sin will one day be only history not to be remembered again when Jesus comes for us.

This is the good news about Jesus. “It is finished!” Amen, and amen.

His peace,
Royce Ogle