Monday, April 25, 2016

Where is the Love?

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I AM NOTHING.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

Red hot fire and brimstone preaching.  We’ve all heard it, and some of us have benefitted from it.  But not all of it is edifying to the body of Christ.  To be edifying, it must build up, not destroy.  It must induce change and not promote hatred.  Love is the difference. 

A perfect example of this is found in Jonah 4.  Jonah was sent to Nineveh as a prophet.  A prophet hears from God, and delivers a message of things to come to pass.  But God never reveals bad things to come without the hope of repentance, change being induced from the message.  God acts in love, always.

Jonah tried his best not to go to Nineveh.  Why? Because he feared God would relent from destroying Nineveh if they repented.  And sure enough, God did.  When the people fasted and became humble, praying to God in repentance, Jonah 3:10 says “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Oh but Jonah was angry with God!  Why?  Because as a prophet, he felt his creditability was ruined! He had proclaimed that God would destroy the city of Nineveh and all 620,000 people.  Yet, God changed His mind.   

In Jonah 4:1-3 we read his discussion with God on the matter:

“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.  So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”   

A song comes to mind when I read Jonah’s words.  “Where is the love?” (Black Eyed Peas)  When Jonah should have been grateful to God that 620,000 people were spared, he instead was angry that his reputation as a prophet had been ruined.  Instead of thanking God for showing grace and mercy, and accepting repentance, he asked God to just take his life!  There was no love in Jonah for those he was sent to minister to.  Therefore, he took not joy in seeing the change the message caused.

1 Corinthians 13 begins with a list of good deeds and gifts that we as Christians are to exercise toward all people.  But as it explains each one it says that without love, we are NOTHING.  Not just weak, not just ineffective, not just corrupted at heart, but NOTHING.  Our first gift to use in reaching others should always be love, sincere love.  Without it, we are as “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal”, just making a bunch of Christian theology noise.
Sometimes we act the same way as Jonah.  Oh, hear me out on this one.  How often do you look at the one who has strayed away as they enter church on their way back to him and remember their sins without seeing their repentance?  It seems would rather see people in their past than consider the possibilities of their future.  Yet, we believe - or say we believe - that God has given all of us a purpose and a plan for a life in Him. 

Friends, stop tying people to their past mistakes – or even their current ones.  See them as God sees them, with potential to be great in His Kingdom.  And if it costs you your reputation to get them there, is that not a small sacrifice to pay?
"Father, Father, Father help us
Send us some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love?"  


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