Friday, March 27, 2015

Love and Good Books

Over the past couple of years, I have been desiring to live a life that is obedient to God and reflects the love and life of Christ. I have struggled with what that looks like and am slowly gaining understanding (and hopefully also beginning application of my understanding). In my search, I keep seeing and hearing the same pieces of scripture. 

The first section is found in Matthew 22. An expert in the law asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" (v.36). I feel like that's what I've been asking God. What is the most important thing to be doing as a Christian?

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ' Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (vs.37-40)

And there I have it. All of life can be boiled down to this: Love God. Love others. It sounds so simple and yet it is quite challenging. Love requires sacrifice and vulnerability and openness and second chances and time and resources. Love is not always convenient or easy or fun. But love is good and right and freeing 

I recently read something Jen Hatmaker had to say about loving our neighbor as ourselves. I hadn't really thought about the truth she shared but it definitely resonated with me. In her new book, For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards, she writes:
When Jesus said to "love your neighbor as yourself," I don't think He meant judgmentally; but that is exactly how we treat our own souls, so it bleeds out to others...We "love" people the way we "love" ourselves, and if we are not good enough, then no one is.
 You can only love and accept others as much as you yourself feel loved and accepted. You can't give what you don't have. In order to love others better, I must pursue God and let him fill me up with his love to pour out to others.

The other verse that has been written on my heart this past year is Micah 6:8: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Throughout scripture we are implored to love and care for orphans and widows and the poor and disenfranchised. We are to champion the causes of the powerless, the weak, the hopeless. I feel like Micah 6:8 is encouraging us to seek to do right by and for these people groups. They are people God loves and desires to see cared for and loved tangibly here on earth.

I am still trying to figure out what that looks like expressed in my life. I am seeking opportunities to help others in addition to caring for my family. God is faithfully providing avenues to be of service while I try to see if I might have a larger, more consistent role in caring for others (right now having young children at home makes it tough to commit regular or large quantities of time to outside things).

I'm reading Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity (Also by Jen Hatmaker - I highly recommend reading her books. I've only read these two but I'm sure they're all fabulous and challenging.) which speaks a lot to this subject. I really don't want it to become one of those "good books I read" that had no actual impact on my life. I want my life to be different because of the things I learned in the book. The way God is working, I think it will.

In my mind all of this is related. Love God. Love others. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. You know who this sounds like? Jesus.

Out in August. Pre-order at Amazon or B&N!