Thank God for Meaningful Love

Following up on yesterday’s blog theme of  Thanksgiving.  Another great gift from God for which we should be thankful is meaningful love.  Especially when we consider the confused self-defeating meaningless love that is popularized in the media today. J udging by most movies and TV characterizations love has become just a synonym for pleasure. But pleasure is fleeting and love is permanent.  Meaningful love is permanent, self-sacrificing and active.   

Stephen Moore, in his poem entitled “The Second Mile,” states it this way:

Stern Duty said, “Go walk a mile
And help thy brother bear his load.
I walked reluctant, but meanwhile,
My heart grew soft with help bestowed.
Then Love said, “Go another mile.”
I went, and Duty spoke no more,
But Love arose and with a smile
Took all the burden that I bore.
‘Tis ever thus when Duty calls;
If we spring quickly to obey,
Love comes, and whatsoever befalls,
We’re glad to help another day.
The second mile we walk with joy;
Heaven’s peace goes with us on the road,
So let us all our powers employ
To help our brother bear life’s load.”

Paul says it best in GAL. 5:6 “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Jesus  is the ultimate expression of love because he is the ultimate expression of self-sacrifice. 

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote,

“Do not waste your time bothering whether you `love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”  That really says it all.  Love is not just sentiment, it is action.  Love is not just loving those like us or those we like, it is also loving those who are unlike us and even those that disgust us.  Love is faith expressing itself in acts of love.  Meaningful love, though often pleasurable, is not for our pleasure but is a way of actively expressing our faith.  Actively expressing our faith by being loving and unselfish has a wonderful by product: happiness.  That’s right happiness is a by-product of loving actively and unselfishly. 

In a world where love means less and less we should be very thankful that Jesus showed us meaningful love.

Thank God for a Meaningful Life

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”  Galatians 4:4-7

 Thanksgiving is the time of the year when we thank God for external blessings. The problem with that focus is that it is constantly changing, giving us an excuse for comparing our situation to others and as often as not feeling justified in our ingratitude. Thankfulness should not be based on an inventory list.

True thanksgiving is opening our eyes to the internal blessings that God gives us. Thankfulness then becomes a window through which God’s love shines through.  By contrast to exterior blessing, internal blessings are constant, unchanging. Of course the obvious internal blessing Jesus followers have received is eternal life. But that great blessing has several by-products of which we need to be aware and for which we need to be thankful: Jesus followers have received a most precious internal blessing that is often taken for granted: a meaningful life!

I saw a bumper sticker that said “THE ONE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS.”  Even though glib it is a goal for many in our comsumerist society.  But is acquiring more ultimately meaningful?

A Gallop Poll survey was distributed to people of various ages and occupations. The key question was this: What are you looking for most in life? When the results were compiled, the analysts were surprised.  Most of them had expected answers that would suggest materialistic goals, but the top three things that people wanted in life were love, joy, and peace–the first three fruit of the Spirit!

Purpose or meaning is important to human beings because we are created in the image of God  Though fallen we still retain the intuiton that we are created for something.  We can fill that  something’ with many things but all except the truth will ultimately fail us.

Peter Sellers, the noted British actor who died in 1980, was troubled throughout much of his adult life. Although he had gained wealth and fame, he was restless and dissatisfied. In his later years he revealed a loss of personal identity by resorting to using the voice and accent of Inspector Clouseau, a fictitious character he had played. Then too, his multiple marriages were symptomatic of the fact that his mind was, as one of his wives put it, “in a constant state of turmoil about his purpose on this planet.”

Stories like this make me sad because the something we are created for is to be found by turning our lives over to Jesus!  The problem is that the struggle of life often obscures the truth about life. Why can’t people see the obvious? Because it is obvious only to those who have a proper perspective: life is Jesus!  “I am the way, the truth, and the Life”

I once saw a reproduction of the Constitution of the United States which had been skillfully engraved on a copper plate. At first glance it seemed to be nothing more than a piece of noble writing. When I looked at it from the proper perspective, however, I could discern the portrait of America’s first President George Washington artistically etched in minute detail. His face was revealed in the shading of the letters and I saw his person, not just a flow of words or lofty principles.

To understand the deeper meaning to life we must look at it from the right perspective.  We must see in it not merely activities, goals, ideas, family, friends or even Biblical doctrines, but Jesus Himself – sufficient for all our needs.

Even Jesus followers are often guilty of not seeing life as Jesus. Instead we often see Jesus as one of the many compartments of our lives.  When we fall into this error we diminish the meaning and purpose of life and boredom or anxiety sets in.  When Jesus becomes our life only then do we begin to live an exciting, adventurous life.  To live life on the edge start living out the paradoxes of our faith!

A paradox is an apparent contradiction which in reality may conceal a profound truth. The paradoxes of our Faith are a great proof that Christianity was not devised by men.  Our Faith contains many unpopular doctrines and mind-baffling concepts which would not exist if it had been composed by men and had not been uniquely inspired by God.  The fact that these do appear shows me that “God’s ways are not our ways.”

Just look at these paradoxes:

  • Faith is seeing unseen things;
  • We conquer by yielding;
  • We find rest under a yoke;
  • We reign by serving;
  • We are made great by becoming little;
  • We are exalted by being humble;
  • We become wise by being fools for Christ’s sake;
  • We are made free by becoming His bond servants;
  • We possess all things by having nothing;
  • We become strong by being weak;
  • We find victory by glorying in our infirmities; and
  • We live by dying.

To  live a rich full purposeful life don’t be afraid to do many things that the world will consider really strange, even weird!  Living out our paradoxical faith is exciting because it never allows us to just drift with the tide.  So, get used to swimming upstream … but remember that the one swimming by you is the giver of of a meaningful life.  Jesus gives life purpose.