"Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." Tim Kizziar.
It never ceases to amaze me when a word or phrase show up in different areas of my life to drive a point down in real deep. Like you just ate a jalapeno and you can still feel it burn your stomach lining deep.
And sometimes it's that startling.
Over the last few weeks we are preparing for the launch of our "Love" line. (spoiler alert) God put verses on my heart that I'm in love with. I've studied these verses to understand them, to write about them, and to design for them.
At this same time, it just happens to be when my children have fought more than anything and lacked in love towards each other. So I have to discipline and correct/instruct on love.
Then my husband hands me a Five Love languages "test." for his mentoring group. Talk about a failure front on my loving him. (at least I hit his number 1)
Then I decide to read this amazing/conflicting/ponder-some (if that's a word)/reality hitting/make you want to change your life book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I mean he's throwing me truth bombs and scripture grenades and self-check bullets. So as you can imagine I've had some conflicting moments in my life over the last couple weeks over my "level of love" for others and more importantly for God.
One verse that we'll be launching is 1 John 3:18. "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." We chose this verse as a way to challenge us into action. I'll save more on that for when we actually launch. But my reading today hit home on this verse. There is so much to share from my reading but to save on your time and so your fingers don't get tired of scrolling, I'll bullet point out my list. These are all my underlined notes, so basically I underlined the whole chapter:
- He measures our lives by how we love.
- Paul writes, "if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, by have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Cor. 13:2-3
- We are here to love. Not much else really matters.
- Following Christ isn't something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It's not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.
- If life is like a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream.
- I believe that much of the American churchgoing population, while not specifically swimming downstream, is floating away from Christ. It isn't a conscious choice, but it is nonetheless happening because little in their lives propels them toward Christ.
- We are saved by grace, through faith, by the gift of God, and that true faith manifests itself through our actions.
- What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? - Luke 9:25
- nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made.
- When we love, we're free! When we are loving, we can't sin.
- The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Is loving God - and, by extension, loving people - what you are about?
Then he challenges us to an exercise. Read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 an all to familiar passage. But insert your name for the word love. For example, "Carly is patient, carly is kind, she does not envy, she does not boast..." and do it for every phrase after.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Can you say that's true. Or as Chan puts it, don't you feel like a liar? If I am meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well.
This post is not meant to make us look down on ourselves but give us a reality check on our level of love and how essential love is to our faith. We say God is love and if God is the center of our life, then loving him and loving others needs to be there too.
So really take a moment today, tomorrow, the next and every day after and think about how you are loving others. Do you just talk about it? Or is there action in your love. Then realize, to love others more deeply you need God more deeply. Fall deeply in love with God.