Posts Tagged ‘way of love’

Paul wrote letters to the various churches and places he visited. Sometimes he wrote admonishments and sometimes encouragement, but in all cases, he wrote because of his love for those who shared in his faith, who believed what he believed, that Jesus was the Christ.

Colossians 1:1-2a
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse . . .

I can almost imagine what it must have been like. Many did not know how to read in those ancient days and so the letters were read aloud. They were a corporate experience. I can imagine a letter was read once initially and then, again and again, more slowly. I can imagine those gathered there talked about what they heard, what they understood, and what they didn’t understand.

What would it have been like if it was my name mentioned specifically? What would that be like?

In some ways, a sermon could be like one of these letters. Unfortunately, we have moved away from corporate discussion of what is shared from the pulpit. The sizes of congregations and traditions over the years prevent echoes to the sermons or questions of the speakers. There is an inherent assumption that the sermon is somehow God-breathed truth and therefore beyond reproach.

Either the sermon is a typed out set piece that has no wiggle room or it’s a spontaneous and often repetitious “inspiration” to a few notes.

That’s not to say that sermons aren’t anointed at times and a truth or phrase or even a just a word, hits deeply in the heart. But there’s something wrong if people are falling asleep in the pews. There’s something wrong if people don’t want to discuss the message.

What is this to me? I don’t really know. I just want to be part of the love letters and I want a kind of corporate experience that allows for “permission to speak freely.” (Also the title of a new book by Anne Jackson.)

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This phrase about grieving the Holy Spirit has always jumped out at me. Reverend Spurgeon said, back in 1859, that causing grief touches even the hardest hearts. But today, for the first time, I linked the cause directly to my mouth.

Ephesians 4:29-30a
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . . .

This revelation really clenches it for me: I must include “unconscious talking” into my fast.

I can just imagine the Holy Spirit within me, covering ears and thinking, “I can’t believe she really said that!” And then, crying. Doesn’t crying go along with grief?

Sometimes, there is anger too, and disappointment. There is helplessness in grief, because there isn’t much one can do to change the situation. And with grief, there is pain.

When a person is sorrowing, it is because of loss. And in that loss, there is love. But it’s love that is cut off, stopped, quenched, unresolved, blocked. . . for whatever reason.

So, whenever I speak out-of-hand, or gossip, or judge, there is a loss that happens there too. I am inching further away from my center where the Holy Spirit dwells. And the Holy Spirit is calling, reaching out to me, warning me, crying for me, whispering to me, but I am too focused on the outpouring.

Unlike fasting from food, which is relatively easy since the body is pretty good about reminding me about three to four times a day, “Hey, didn’t you forget something? Food! I need food!” But to fast from blabbing is more difficult. There won’t be any help for this one. It will be about mindfulness. It will be about “practicing the presence” of God. It will be about thinking before I speak. It will be about slowing down. It will be about listening.

And maybe, just maybe, if I can submit to this discipline, even for a short while, I will hear the angels singing after all.

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It’s a journey, the way of love. And like any journey, initially, we make a plan based on what we know in the moment, but along the way, the directions may change. There will be detours and road work. There will be fallen trees and washed out streets. But the way is still the way.

I Corinthians 14:1a
Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. [The Message Bible]

This theme of love has bee with me now for several days and I am embracing it as best I can. But I see the challenges right away. It’s one thing to talk about love and it’s another to walk it day to day and minute to minute. Even if I choose to love, it doesn’t change the other guy. Loving in the way can be a lot of one-way streets at first. There’s a reason why Paul says in I Corinthians 13:4 that “love is patient” first. It requires all the patience in the world to love.

All of the “ways” in scripture are the same really: the way of Jesus, the way of God, the way of love. These are just words to help us understand the direction and the intent.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m on some kind of busy on ramp and a little fearful to enter the highway. Once I’m really on this way, once I commit fully, things will change. My life will change.

I am afraid of the way of the way of love.

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