Peace – Prayer – Joy – Love
alone in the woods

Love Who?

  1. When We’re Not Willing To Listen
    1. I did NOT want to preach from this text this week.
      1. I love the message, and what we’re called to here,
      1. But this was not a good time (in my mind) for this text.
    1. I feel the painfully pressing presence of enemies at the gates.
      1. Do you expect that we will not encounter enemies in church?
      1. Public life & service almost guarantees enemies. Captain Picard.
    1. I am grateful for our weekly Bible Study Groups who helped me.
      1. We have two great study groups, & I was able to be really honest.
      1. The Congregational Way works on a powerfully personal level!
  2. Near Enemies Are Worse Than Notorious Enemies
    1. There were tears at Bible Study Group this week for a near enemy.
      1. As we were reading the text, someone was moved to tears.
      1. Scripture is alive & meets us where we are to help us grow.
      1. The Crimson Thread of God’s love for us is present even here.
    1. Are near enemies even harder to love than big notorious enemies?
      1. Could it be easier to love & pray for someone like Diocletian*? Remembering standing in the A.I.C. staring into those cold eyes.
      1. Could it be easier to love & pray for Pres.Trump or A.O.C.?
      1. Could it be harder to love & pray for a family or church enemy?
    1. Forgiveness may just be the hardest & scariest thing we’re called to.
      1. We might willingly sacrifice or suffer some hardship, but forgive?
      1. We love control. We love being right(eous). Pro Speck Spotters.
      1. Forgiveness demands that we surrender all of that; “Let It Go!”
  3. Perfect Love Drives Out Fear
    1. Fear is one of two primary motivators; acting from fear or from love.
      1. Pastor Jake shared core wisdom back in the day about this.
      1. Ask yourself, Does my response come from fear, or from love?
    1. Over and over again, Scripture calls us not to fear, and calls us to love!
      1. Just recently Jesus comforted the first Disciples, “Fear not.”
      1. From Angels to Epistles, God’s people are called to not fear.
    1. What if loving our enemies is actually all about liberating us from fear?
      1. Scripture says “Perfect love drives out fear.” God frees us from fear.
      1. What if this call to love is all about liberating us from enemy fear?
  4. Liberation, Not Law-keeping
    1. We grow up with this view as law-keeping: no cookies if you don’t love.
      1. Taking encouragement from God & making it a new law to keep.
      1. Love gives away control. Law-keeping is all about keeping control.
    1. Look at this line: God loves who?…God loves you, & God loves me!
      1. God is kind to the ungrateful & wicked … maybe that’s me! & Us!
      1. Automatically seeing it as our enemies, but it’s probably about us!
    1. God knows this is hard. God did this first. God wants to liberate us.
  5. The Gospel Good News Is Spread Through Contrast
    1. Look at this middle part: God calls us to live lives of startling contrast.
      1. News stories recently on how the Church is just as cruel&abusive as the rest of the country or world around us; sex & power.
      1. Conversation this week how we here in our own church often don’t look any better than, say, businesses in our own community.
    1. God desires that all should come, so God sends us as living messengers.
    1. If we will live in startling contrast to the world, they will listen to hope!

* Head Fragment of a Togate Statue of the Roman Emperor Diocletian from Asia Minor 295-300 CE

Object on loan from the J. Paul Getty Villa Museum in Malibu, California.

Viewed at the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, Illinois.

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