Thursday, 16 May 2013

Plant seeds of righteousness and harvest a crop of love

"For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity* in you". 2 Cor 9:10 NLT

(* Greek - righteousness)

I stretch my stiff fingers over the keys and as so many times before when I have felt uncertain, look out over the treetops to the mountain. A restless wind blows a bird on the wing off it's course, and I watch it struggle against the gusts. A door slams and the cabin shudders. In the distance I hear the grind of a chainsaw, the piercing cry of the neighbour's peacock. A dog snarls and then all at once there is silence.

I recognise the tension that often exists between two opposites. Do I sit on my comfortable perch, share a sweet familiar message of comfort; or do I go out on the limb before me, unknown and uncertain? Do I buy into the notion that I (we) have within ourselves the power to heal an aching world, or do I let the truth speak into my soul from the pages of a book that has never lied. The Word of God.

I was recently reminded of a pop song from the early nineties called "Sowing the seeds of love" by British group Tears for Fears. It was written in 1987 during the week in which Margaret Thatcher won her third term in office. It is an overtly political song, urging people of the working class to "end the politics of greed" by speaking up, becoming informed and "sow seeds of love". Here are a few more lines:

"I spy tears in their eyes, they look to the skies for some kind of divine intervention. So without love and a promised land,we're fools to the rules of a government plan".

It is very tempting to think that we have the ability to love the world better. Even the Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins? But love is greatly misunderstood by an unbelieving world. 
How can we distinguish the "eros" love of the world from the "agape" love of God?

The word - love - appears 310 times in 280 verses in the Bible; these are included in the count of words beginning with - lov~ - which appear 554 times in 471 verses. We have heard people say "God is love" so often that it probably has no more impact on most people than "Just do it", the daring Nike slogan.

Yes, God is love. But God is also unwaveringly just. And man fell from the perfect "love" relationship with Him. There had to be a charge. There had to be a sentence. It was and still is death and the eternal fires of hell. But then Jesus took the fallen state and death of all mankind onto himself, and a bewildered humanity still does not get it. Why would we choose to stay in that dark dank cell when the doors are open? Because the father of lies would have us believe that we can fix it up ourselves. We can lovingly transform this cell, make it smell nice, put plush furniture in it, fit some tasteful light fittings, fix the cracks, paint it a happy colour...

We accept the bail, but not the freedom from the world. We want the heavenly mansion, but not the narrow way leading up to it. The way that leads us firstly into repentance and a life of righteousness, into the spiritual battle field, into humble surrender, servitude and unconditional love. But also into an abundant life and joy in Christ, surpassing anything we can dream up. A voice may whisper: this sounds contradictory - another lie.

A Peanuts cartoon shows Lucy standing with her arms folded and a stern expression on her face. Charlie Brown pleads, “Lucy, you must be more loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make this world a better place.” Lucy angrily whirls around and knocks Charlie Brown to the ground. She screams at him, “Look, Blockhead, the world I love. Its people I can’t stand.”

Love is the distinguishing mark of the true Christian (John 13:35). It means loving enough to speak the Truth into peoples lives. It means loving even if we don't always like. Because we recognise that if we love with the "agape" love of the living Christ, every soul becomes equally valuable. We would long for all to have freedom in Christ, to walk out of that dark cell and experience the true light of his salvation. We would not be tempted to compromise, to go and sit on that comfy couch and speak gentle words of comfort, when truth is needed. We would not feed into people's fears with more sensation, even if the facts are true. "For perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18)

Another uncomfortable truth is that we will all have to face the judgement chair of Christ one day. 2 Cor 5:10 reads: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." Hebrews 9:27 states that "it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgement". But our status with Christ determines how we will be judged. Every single person is promised a fair judgment before Christ one day. The young and old, poor and rich, saved and unsaved, believer or non-believer will one day come before the Lord and will be judged for their actions here on Earth.

The man Jesus was the only tangible evidence the world has ever experienced of perfect love. An intimate relationship with Him is the only way through which His love can be perfected in us, and we become able to touch others with that same love. He is the only one worthy of our love. But with His grace, there is a way to love and be loved beyond being deserving of it. That is AGAPE.

Hosea 10:12 I (The Lord) says: Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love.

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