A number of years ago I was in a lumber yard buying some building material. On the wall was a sign that read: Rules for doing business:
Rule #1: The customer is always right Rule #2: If the customer is wrong, refer back to Rule #1. In other words, the customer is always right! Jesus also gives us a rule of life to follow:
One of the teachers of the law came to Jesus and asked him this: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a]30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12: 28b-32
When we learn to love God through Worship and prayer, and allow the Holy Spirit to move our hearts closer to Jesus, we will more naturally desire to love our neighbour. These commands (rules) of Jesus could also be read like this:
Rule #1: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." Rule #2: If your neighbour is not your type; or makes you uncomfortable, or is irritating, refer back to #1.
Too often our love is conditional.
Buying an extra burger and fries to share with a homeless person, helping someone change a flat tire on their car, offering a ride to someone from work who needs one—in these ways and more, God often gives us opportunities to show kindness for someone who has a need.
As I sometimes meet people who are not part of a church, it saddens me when they describe Christians as unkind people. Sometimes I hear in conversations that the Christians they know are selective with their love. They have experienced Christians as judgmental. Of course, it is easy to be critical of the church if you focus on the negative. However, many people see church buildings in their communities as little more than social clubs. In their opinion, they hear church people speak out mostly about what they oppose, and not so much about what they are doing to bring hope and healing to their neighbours in the community and in the world. In a culture which is less Christian oriented than the previous generation, the church is under more scrutiny and therefore it is even more necessary to be the church as Jesus Christ intended.
The world needs to see Christians as people of kindness, compassion—good-news people who act like Jesus. That will move forward when we are intentional about nurturing a habit of practicing love for God and for our neighbours.
As we are starting a new church year this September, let us resolve to take our Lord seriously in learning to love him more and love our neighbours more with kindness and compassion.
Certainly we have a positive, loving and friendly church. However, if we stop there and do not go beyond our comfort zone as Jesus did, we can easily fall back to merely looking after ourselves and our preferences (refer back to rule #1 - Love God and love your neighbour). Being Good News people is not only good news for those who witness you in action, but also good news for yourself as you grow in love for God and neighbour!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to love you more, and open our eyes today to see our neighbours around us. Show me how to receive them as people you love. Amen.
This past Victoria Day weekend, was the first holiday weekend since family day in February. The weather was decent and people were out and about celebrating with fireworks. It is so wonderful to be home with family and friends and take the time to relax and catch up with one another and do some around the house chores.
The long weekend is like the gateway to summer. The hot weather we are experiencing lately has made us a little uncomfortable, but also excited about the upcoming holidays where most people have a chance to slow down and take time to celebrate life.
When you come to think of it, life is beautiful. Life is a gift for which we give our God thanks. In a recent worship service we talked about how in fact, everything we have in life is a gift. Certainly, we can fill up a page with everything which is not so good in life (we too often go there first - bad habit). On the other hand, when we focus on the goodness and ponder the absolute miracle of life, our tendency is to respond with gratitude to our loving God.. Then in spite of the challenges and storms in life, we can rest in the joy of the one who provides and will continue to provide good things in life and for eternity.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (New International Version)." James 1: 17
We are in Easter tide - the time period between the resurrection (when Jesus rose from the dead on the first Easter Sunday) and Pentecost (the outpouring of the Holy Spirit). During this period, we celebrate the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the resurrection, we know that Jesus in his deep love, defeated death and any evil that leads to death. The joy of that victory is experienced when we personally receive this gift of Christ's victory and give thanks each day for his amazing love.
What is joy? Is joy just a happy response to good times and fun? The joy of the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated on Easter Sunday, and we certainly feel that joy on Easter weekend! However, Jesus wants that joy to be with us at all times-- even in times of pain and hardship. For the follower of Jesus, joy is not just a fleeting response to good experiences and accomplishments. With the power of the Holy Spirit, Joy is something that we cultivate and nurture together through the joy of worship, in meeting together, and through helping and encouraging others. Jesus laid the foundation for human joy at Easter. Lets build on it together into Easter tide and throughout the year!
The Joy of the Lord is our Strength! Blessings. Pastor Ed