It was great to kick off “Love Is In the Air” Sunday night. Thanks to all of you who showed up to embark on a multiple-week study of the high priority of love in the church. It was a treat to be with you, and in fact to sense the love of this great congregation. We’re growing in love for Christ, love for each other, and love for a lost world.
So this morning our national government is “shut down.” Not really, of course. Mail is still running and planes are still flying and taxes are still being collected (and spent). But it does make us think about the temporal nature of the things in which we’re tempted to wrongly place too much of our trust.
Ah … that’s right. “Three things abide: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.” I forgot, at least momentarily.
To love – to truly love – may mean hard times for us. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I do want to be a Biblical realist. To love after the example of our Lord is often accompanied by at least some suffering along the path that He has charted for us. I say this not to discourage you, Beloved, but to encourage you to look up and consider yourself blessed indeed to in any way be identified with Jesus (Romans 8:16-17; Second Corinthians 1:5; First Peter 4:12-19).
Philip Graham Ryken, president of Wheaton College, writes: “People sometimes say, ‘I know that God will never give me more than I can bear.’ Actually, there are times when God does give us more than we think we can bear. Sooner or later, we all suffer unbearable losses, or face insoluble problems, or have to deal with impossible people. But although God may give us more than we can bear, he never gives us more than he can bear. We are not alone. Jesus is with us – the Savior who suffered every kind of abuse up to and including death by torture. This does not lessen our pain, necessarily, or solve all our problems immediately, but it does mean that we do not have to bear all things or endure all things on our own. The love of Jesus will carry us through. The more we know his love – the love of our suffering, saving King – the more we are able to endure all things for him.”
Relating all of this to our present American landscape, my hope for politicians of every political stripe is the same as my hope for gospel preachers: that they’ll stand up and say (and in fact do) the right thing. That won’t be any easier for anyone in Washington than it is for somebody in Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky. (As the relative newcomer, it’s hard for me to spell the latter locale without an apostrophe, so I hope I’ve been advised correctly.) But I’m sure you get my point. To love, and to serve people in love, sometimes comes at a high price.
And we have no guarantees, this side of heaven at least. Our economy may not survive our debt load, making all of us wish we had hung out a little longer in Tightwad, Missouri.
But love wins. We know that. The Lord God reigns!
So you and I, as the Lord’s redeemed, are called to love in plenty or in want. So go ahead and love. I even dare you to love your enemies (political or otherwise).
“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”