Little Children, Love One Another

“I have given them the glory that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.  I am in them, and you are in me, so that they may be completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.”  John 17:22-23

This is from what is called the high priestly prayer of Jesus, a prayer which He prayed shortly before his death.  It’s from the gospel of John, and reminds me of a story about the apostle.  He lived to be very old, and it’s said that when he became unable to stand and preach, he would be carried into the church where his entire sermon was simply, “Little Children, love one another.”  Love is the major theme in John’s writing, and in his life.  He knew that as Christians, we are called to be one body, to love one another and to love others. That is what the world should see when they look at us.

However, John’s simple message is easier said than done.  I’m currently reading the diaries of Dorothy Day, which I’ll probably finish and review later this month.  Dorothy was a Catholic who started a number of “hospitality houses” for the needy and homeless.  She welcomed and loved the kinds of people who were pretty unlovable — alcoholics, those who were mentally ill, some who were simply dirty and/or disagreeable.  She was criticized by many in the church for her “extreme” methods.  It was a constant struggle for her to love, yet she knew that was her calling as a child of God.  Like the apostle, John, love was her theme.

We too must deal with people every day that we have trouble loving.  Some are our neighbors!  Some are our fellow church members!  Some are family! Often people behave in ways that upset or annoy us.  We feel used.  We feel disrespected.  Face it, we feel angry.  We want to tell them off or walk away.  However, the words of Scripture are clear.  We are to love others.  We are especially to seek unity in the church.  We cannot allow our personal feelings to get the better of us. If we do, we’re disobeying the words of Christ.

So, here’s my point. Struggle, but don’t give up.  Remember your own sins and how you have been forgiven.  Let love be your theme.

 

Are You Busy?

You may think the title above is a crazy one during the Christmas season.  After all, isn’t this just about the busiest time of the year? If you’re anything like me you’re  busy buying and wrapping gifts, addressing cards, baking cookies, attending holiday parties with family and friends, decorating the house and more.  Of course, you’re busy.

The more important question is, what are you busy with?  In the Bible, the apostle John writes:

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”  John 3:19-21

Are you consumed with parties, shopping and cooking, or with celebrating the miracle of God’s incarnation?  Are you making time for advent services, ministry to others and Bible study?  When you have to cut out a Christmas tradition, what goes?  Cookies or worship?  Spending time with friends, or with Jesus?  Giving a gift to a family member, or giving your life to the One who made you and saved you?

I’m not trying to be a spoil sport.  There is nothing wrong with most of these “Christmas” activities and we needn’t think of them as “works of evil.”  However, when we allow them to distract us from the light, which is Christ, they become evil.  They become idols.  Instead of worshipping God, we are often worshipping our own status, and how other people will view us.  Were our presents expensive enough to impress?  Do our holiday decorations strike envy in the hearts of our neighbors?  Do we throw the most sought-after Christmas party?  (Remember the devil loves to make sin look good!)  It’s a question of priority.  When Judgement Day arrives, will you be proud of how you spent your Christmas time this year?  Are you celebrating the light with godly works or just shiny tinsel?  Do you love the true light?  Or are you still walking in darkness?  Where is your heart this Christmas season?