The Greatest of These

 

globe-people

Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
1 Corinthians 13
Luke 4:21-30

There are some problems with love, the leading one being that the world does not like it. Love is wimpy; it does not scare the predators. Turning the other cheek is a good way to get your face smashed.

No one can fight a war, let alone win, using love. The evil ones of the world will defeat us for sure. We have to be stronger and tougher than the others in the fight.

In Matthew 24:10-13 Jesus described the end times. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be savedNIV

Why will our hearts grow cold? Love and hate are opposites; they cannot exist side-by-side. When we allow hate to flourish, love must die.

The reading in Luke gives an example of how easily hate can take over. As we saw last week, Jesus visited his home synagogue, read Isaiah, and his friends and neighbors praised him.

Today’s reading continues that synagogue experience. Jesus related two well-known stories of two leading prophets, but as usual, he turned the accounts in an unfamiliar direction. Instead of praising the steadfastness of the prophets—everyone there knew that—Jesus stressed the obvious fact that Elijah and Elisha took God’s love and message to Gentiles.

The men of the synagogue considered his words to be blasphemy for which death was the punishment. In spite of the wealth of scripture supporting God’s love for all people, His chosen people could not accept the idea.

In fact, the Essenes preached the need to hate Gentiles.

Today, far too many Christians follow the path of the Essenes. We have groups and categories of people we hate, even as we say we do not hate them. Moslems are high on the list today. We also struggle with loving  Mexicans, Haitians, Chinese, Africans, and generally most non-whites. We also struggle with how to love women who choose abortion, or men who prefer men, or anyone who contracts AIDS.

How to love everyone? Paul spells it out.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end
MSG

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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