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This article “came to me” in bits-n-pieces so if it seems disjointed that’s probably why. But mainly it is about what love is/what it does and what it is not/does not.
Love – what I see that it does: Love steps aside differences and focuses on common ground; it focuses on others (God being first and foremost), not the self. From 1st Corinthians 13, often referred to as the “Love Chapter,” love is: patient, kind, it keeps no record of wrongs; it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
What love does not do: force itself on anyone nor demand its own way. And again from 1st Corinthians: [Love] does not envy, it is not proud, it does not boast; it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered; Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth; and finally: Love never fails.
If God is “love,” then that makes Jesus, as the Son of God, the Son of Love. If we say we are followers and disciples of Jesus, then we are followers/disciples of Love and as such we need to STOP behaving as self-focused, entitled, immature sinners. We who love God (and love this nation God has given us) need to stop forcing divisions.
Week after week for many months local “Letters to the Editor” were, and occasionally still are, filled with tirades about how one side of the “aisle” believes rightly and the other wrongly. STOP - just stop trying to convince people of things they’re not going to let go of - that is, unless you are willing to let go of what you hold on to! ‘Words’ that seek to convince, coerce, shame or defame rarely have much effect. Instead, it is by our ACTIONS that we “win” converts – and when we “win” them it should be to God, not an American political party. After all, God is Lord over all the universe, not just one little ol’ country on this globe!
As Lord of the Universe, God does not force anyone to believe in the existence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - we have free will and have had since the very beginning with Adam and Eve. Jesus never forced anyone to accept his teachings or healings, he simply beckoned to people to “follow me” - those who followed him freely CHOSE to do so. The Spirit, though always present in and around us, does not force us into any belief or action, yet is always ready, willing and able to lead and guide when we say “yes” to such leadership and guidance.
Until I was about 30 years old I believed that what I thought was “right”/correct and if you didn’t think the same way then you were an idiot. I also could never be wrong. I would argue about the smallest things and not back down even when it became apparent that I was, in fact, wrong on that topic/subject. I learned this behavior mostly from my human father. Thankfully, my heavenly Father set me straight and what a blessed relief it has been not to have to “be right” All.The.Time.
Once I realized there are things that other people know and believe, which I’d never had been exposed to, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders - I could be wrong in my thinking through no fault of my own, only by lack of exposure and understanding. This is why it is vital for a loving disciple of Jesus to always seek to be open to learning, and to view life as a never-ending journey on which we grow continuously in knowledge, maturity and wisdom.
If any of this makes sense to you, then I pray you perhaps stop talking about topics that divide and simply imitate the loving actions of Jesus: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned and seek to be an agent of healing and LOVE!
Rev. Kim Gates, Waukon
St. Paul’s and Forest Mills United Methodist Churches
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