Getting it Right

     Bob Jones was a dear friend to many around the world.  Before he passed away last February he shared the fact that the Lord left him here on earth ‘until he learned how to love’.  Bob passed away February 14, 2014 – Valentine’s Day.  I think that is a sign he got it right.    God is love and because Bob Jones loved the Lord I take great stock in what Bob said.   To love God’s way will teach us to love others while giving up the demand to feel loved.   In love and freedom with God’s intended diversity and creativity there is a balance.  There is a place that the uniqueness of each part will manifest the fullness of all that God intended His body to be as Paul the apostle says in Ephesians chapter 4:

15 ‘…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.’

     In last week’s Word to Consider we discussed the importance of having an inward God-honoring drive to be able to say ‘it is finished’ and hearing ‘well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord’.   Love is not Love unless it is Love God’s Way.  We must never sacrifice God’s direction for our lives for either love or fear but quite often this is what many people can do.

     As we look further into Luke 15 we see two more parables – the parables of the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son (or the Wise Father).  These parables clearly express the heart of the Lord and his laborers for the lost as well as the rejoicing that takes place after a successful redeeming. 

 

The Coin: Increased Struggle

     Luke 15:8-10 continues with what has been called the ‘parable of the lost coin’.  A new bride had received a traditional head band made of 10 silver coins.  The band was either brand new or very old as a family heirloom.  Losing one coin in ten, this parable shows an increase in the loss factor to 10%. 

     The coin that fell might not have been fastened properly to the wedding band – either in haste as a new band was made (innovation) or in the age of the band handed down (traditions).

     It could be said that as the body of Christ we are forming the wedding band, those who are preparing to adorn our Lord as the groom.  We can see the importance of making proper attachments and to help everyone that comes into our lives feel important and connected.   As the first parable revealed a wandering off demonstrated a 1% change, someone falling away from feelings of being disconnected is greater – at a 10% chance of occurring.

     It is at this point that I left off last week with making adjustments to help people feel connected as a part of the greater whole.  The danger is when you are more focused on the success of what you are doing than in the Lord’s opinion of the matter.  What the world needs today are people who know their God and also love the Lord’s people above themselves.

 

The Father: Settling for Nothing Less

     The tasks of completing our assignment 100% and helping others feel connected are both very important.   However, as we look at the last of Luke chapter 15, we see the parable of the prodigal son or what I call the parable of the wise father.

     Many of us have heard countless presentations of this parable and you can read it for yourself in Luke 15:11:32 so I will not retell the story here.   Notice that this is the parable that the Lord took the most time to speak about, I believe, because it is the one most critical for the Church to hear and in order to get love right.

     We have seen that some will unintentionally wander off (1%) and that some will fall away, either because of disagreements or inability to connect someplace (10%).   In looking at this parable we will see that there is a 50% chance of a greater harm being done to our ultimate goal of pleasing God with what we do.

     This parable shows a wise father who loved his sons dearly.  He had two sons.  One left (50% loss) and one stayed behind (50%).  While the younger son was away the father looked out at a distance for his possible return (v20).  This father loved his son so much that he would not chase after him until he was no longer broken.  This father knew what his son would have to learn before he came back – he wanted his son whole and not pulled back, accepted, or tolerated simply to have him back at any cost.

     Once this son came to his senses (v17) he did come home a humble and clear-headed man.  You would think this would end the story.  The father gained a son back and redeemed the 50% loss but the story ends with the father having to correct the older son who stayed.  This allowed for the older son to assess his own ailing heart.

 

The Facts: Love is Complicated

It is possible to love correctly.   I believe Bob Jones learned this before he left this life. 

     In our loving as Christ would have us love, it is important that we look at these three parables as guides to Love God’s Way.  We must go for the last one, the full completion;  we must work to make people feel connected and a part of the greater assembly;  but we must never accept a darkened heart simply because of perverted or imbalanced love before a healing.  Love takes time.  Time is our ally and our enemy at times.  It takes God’s love, God’s word, and God’s wisdom through the Holy Spirit to get it right – but it is so dearly needed in the world we have today.

     Love is the most powerful and most important of human interactions.  Without it many aspects of life can go sideways.    However, an idea of love can be held so high that it accepts everything, challenges no one, and tolerates almost anything in the hope and goal of peace, safety, success or security.  On the opposite end of the scale, an idea of love can be so defined that rather than allowing freedom to grow as an individual it ends up being nothing more than to constrain, define, regulate, and demand – all with the goal to create a false sense of security ‘for the good of all concerned’.

     We must pray for our leaders and fellow Christians - those at all levels whether in or outside our own church congregations.   We do this for three reasons.   First, it will help us stay objective as we do not always understand the reasons that leaders and people in general make the choices they do.  And secondly, because each one of us will give an account to the Lord as to how and what we did here in this life – we rise and fall in the eyes of our own masters.   And thirdly, we are told to do so in scriptures such as Hebrews 13:17 and 1 Tim 2:1-4.  I believe that most people try to do the best they know how with the resources they have. 

     Many of us have seen church fellowships that are so inclusive it is hard to tell the saved from the unsaved and at the opposite end of the scale we have seen church fellowships that are so rigid that even association with other congregations is frowned upon by the leadership and church membership.    The million dollar question might be, ‘How do you get it right?’  Not only is that the million dollar question, the answer will cost you the equivalent of that price to achieve it – a cost of searching for God’s heart, God’s ways, and God’s word to create a balance in your own life so that you can see the splinter in your brother’s eye after having seen the issues in your own.

     First Corinthians chapter 13 is the best definition of love known to mankind.  And 1 John 4:18 tells us that, ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.