As our nation continues to experience turmoil and we plan to come together as a congregation for the first time in nearly four months, I thought that Mr. Dan Dowd's letter from a couple weeks ago was very appropriate. - Nathan Ekama
Sabbath Thought - Love Is
Back in the 1970s there was a single panel comic called "Love Is". This comic was a simple reminder of what love can look like in a relationship. Unfortunately, much of the culture around us has cheapened love to what makes us feel good, or lustful thoughts for someone. In this way then, love can be hard to define since most see it only as an emotion. Too often the love we see is not the love God intends for us to show to one another.
The primary aspect of God's character we are to reflect is His love (1 John 4:8, 16). The word for love in much of the Greek is "agape" (ag-ah'-pay) and it means love, affection, or benevolence. Benevolence is not a word we use much, but it means "desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness; an act of kindness; a charitable gift".
The Apostle John used the word "agape" more than any other New Testament writer. In fact, he used the word so much that he defined the word not only in Scripture, but also in ancient Greek. John shows that love is not simply an emotion because it is grounded in who and what God is. Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) showing that love is not primarily an emotion. It also means that love expressed through acts is required of us, even if we dislike someone (Matthew 5:43-48). In fact, this type of love shows that we are striving to have God's perfection dwelling in us (1 John 2:5).
We see then that love is a verb - the love of God is shown by us through the things we do (or don't do). In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, "Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor - act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."
In John 3:16 we are told, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." God's Holy Days are only part of the picture of what He has put in motion because of His love for us. If we are to reflect Christ (Philippians 2:5), then we are also to reflect the Father. Christ loved the world while it still hated Him. Shouldn't we still love each other even if we don't receive the love we think we are owed?
While He gives us the Sabbath and His Holy Days to help us catch a glimpse of His plan of salvation, it is all predicated on love. In following God's way of life (1 John 5:2-3) we begin to reflect that love not only back to Him but also to each other (1 John 4:11). God's love can be tough for us to implement because it runs counter to our carnal, human nature.
So how do we show this type of love - a love of laying down our life for someone (John 15:13)? As we emerge from the COVID restrictions it can be as simple as asking someone if they preferred that we wear a mask around them. Some will not want to shake hands or give hugs, and that is fine. It is not for us to judge whether someone's faith is lacking or not because their perceptions, opinions, or desires are different from our own. It is for us to show them Godly love and to serve them in that love. The love of God can be seen by giving others preference (Romans 12:10). That type of love is shown in serving others (Galatians 5:13). Love is keeping God's commandments (2 John 1:6) and is without fear (1 John 4:18).
The world around us is accelerating its slide into anger and chaos. As the chosen of God, we should stand out as beacons of Godly love. In fact, it is through this love - more than anything else - that the world will know the we are truly disciples of Christ. (John 13:35).
I wish you a very meaningful Sabbath,