LOVE-eling the playing field

Sometimes I think God decides to theme out certain times in our lives, not so we can be poetic and say how romantic of a God we serve (although this is true), but rather because we can be so knuckleheaded about learning something that we need it repeated in different ways over and over again.

I confess that this past month has brought with it an emptiness in my spirit. The holidays were good, experiencing extended family on extended road trips and quality time with the love of my life. I am looking forward to pursuing new relationships that have come from the various social gatherings I’ve hosted and participated in. But while those things were good, I neglected my first love, and I’m realizing that it has put me in yet another place of desperation for His presence. I haven’t pursued Him as I would like to and it’s left the desire to give life to others at a handicap because I haven’t had that much life to give.

Enter this week.

I began my journaling once again after a month separated from my last entry. I treat it as sort of a conversation piece with God (I almost wrote the word ‘peace’ in place of ‘piece’ and I’m realizing in this moment how either word could be valid). As I began writing, talking to Him through pen and paper, I began almost immediately to feel His presence over me, experiencing the ‘peace’ as I wrote of being close to Him once again. I don’t know if that’s something that can be understood by anyone who isn’t ‘in Christ’ as Paul says.

Tuesday night the Spirit continued to speak truth to me through His Word as well as through His Body. We read from both Acts 19:8-10 and Romans 14:13-17 and hashed through the idea of what the Kingdom of God was to us as well as through the idea that we must realize that we weren’t meant to change people or the culture around us. These ideas resonated with me because that day I got into a conversation with some co-workers about the role of our government on the people it governs. Through the talk of welfare, taxable income, personal responsibility, etc. the idea of God in all of that didn’t come up and I wondered how we could talk about the good an organization can do for people and not mention God, the creator of goodness. But His goodness is not all there is to Him. He is also sovereign. That night it clicked.

If I think of the Kingdom of God as being His authority, then what I see is that while the purpose of a government is to do what’s best for the people it governs and therefore serve their needs (albeit not everyone will be satisfied), the purpose of the authority, the Kingdom of God, is to bring glory to Himself, and through some supernatural act, simultaneously allow us to be satisfied in that as a Body by serving Him and serving others. It’s as if, as followers of Christ, we are under an authority that supersedes that which we vote on every four years. Those’s not to say that we shouldn’t obey laws put in front of us or discount the things that Congress has put in place for us to follow. But there is some freedom in knowing that man doesn’t necessarily have it right, and while a Democracy is doing what’s good for the majority of the people, the Lord is doing what is best for Himself as well as those who choose to follow Him. It’s His sovereignty that allows Him to put Himself first. It’s His love that invokes the second.

So how do we do that? How do we serve God without thinking that we have to change people and culture around us. I quote my friend Amy (roughly) : “Change comes when we love on people.”

That’s it? Love is what levels the playing field? Love is what supersedes fairness and unfairness? Wow. That may not be a new concept to the majority of people out there, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.

How does that look practically? How do I live that out? That question got answered almost 24 hours after I asked it.

The next night I went to a friend’s house where we are in a study of the book of Luke. Chapter 14 was all over me. In it Jesus tells three parables that, on the surface look completely different from each other, but as we read through, the theme of each began to answer my question. It resonated loudest at verse eleven: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I’m realizing now, in this season of my life that God is asking a ton from me. More than anything He is demanding holiness from my life, not so I can be called a ‘good’ person, but that His life will resonate within mine, so that who I am at work, at home, with my future bride and with those that place their trust in me, will be filled with character defined by love. I guess you could say that I am imprisoned in His freedom. I can’t fix people, nor do I want to, but I also need to understand that the ‘investment’ that I give to people shouldn’t be fueled by the return on that investment. Can I have those meaningful relationships with people and just enjoy the love that unifies rather than making sure they are doing the right things spiritually? With love I think I can. And its only through the humbling of my life, doing things and saying things for the sake of His Glory and the benefit of those He loves that will exalt me, but that exaltation will mean nothing to me because his satisfaction will be all I need.

This quote was given to me last night over coffee with a friend of mine who shared with me that it had come across his e-desk a couple of times this week and he thought it relevant to where we both were. I guess you could call it a summary statement for the ‘theme’ going on in my world as of late.

We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home. – Jamie Tworkowski, To Write Love On Her Arms

2 thoughts on “LOVE-eling the playing field

  1. pberkus says:

    First, I think that you make a good case for disgruntled Jesus followers that love supersedes fairness and unfairness. I also agree that God has His hand in our government, and your explanation was great.I have a thought about some things you mentioned. If love is not self-seeking, and God is love, then how can we think of God as having the purpose of bringing glory to Himself. I don’t believe that God’s sole purpose is to funnel glory to Himself. As a matter of fact, my working definition of glory is magnificent beauty. With that said, God doesn’t bring glory to Himself; He IS glory.I also think that God’s thought process is more systematic in nature and that God’s beauty (my working definition for glory)is revealed to us in order to start a relationship with Him which not only benefits Him, but is crucial to our very existence. Allow me to digress: even now I question the words “glory” and “kingdom”. In order for me to understand God more, I feel the need to extract the original definition of words because believers use these words in their OWN context. If we were to ask 10 people to describe their idea of kingdom and glory, we would get 10 different ideas. Most of us don’t live in a kingdom, so why should our frame of reference be something which we cannot truly relate. On the other hand, people my age do not have a positive idea of modern government, so what would the best word be to describe the believer’s collective.

  2. Jonathan Watson says:

    Patrick,Great post. I must, however, respectfully disagree with pberkus’ comment, “God doesn’t bring glory to Himself; He IS glory.” While I certainly agree that in a sense God “is glory,” there is a sense in which His creation can give Him glory (e.g., we His created beings must admit that we do not give him the glory He deserves). Paul writes, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 12:36). This use of glory is active not stative. Inserting “magnificent beauty” for “glory” renders a very awkward reading: “To Him be magnificent beauty forever”? God is certainly glorious, but we his people must also give Him glory. If God is the proper end of all things, then how could He lead us to anything other than Himself and be loving? If He is the proper object of praise, worship, honor, and glory, how could He do anything other than lead us to worship Him and be true? In the end, God is the only being in the universe for whom selfishness is a virtue. As He is the supreme object of affection, adoration, worship, etc. for Him to not desire these actions from man would lessen His faithfulness, goodness, and love toward both himself and us because He would be leading us astray. “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” God is the chief end of man. The Westminster Confession summarizes this thought well, “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” I believe that God loves himself and, because He loves Himself and us, He leads us to love Him and glorify Him too. He is our chief end.

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