Posted in Christian Living, Christianity, Faith

This Road to Love

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By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1: 3-8 NLT)

I have read these words from 2 Peter on many occasions, but they never cease to strike me as a clear roadmap to the kind of life that truly reflects a belief in Christ.  Still, no matter how clear this roadmap is, it also involves steps that we can only survive if we take them knowing we need God every step of the way.

So, let’s begin by spelling out the steps on the road to “love for everyone” that should be the end goal of every Christian.  As Peter makes clear, each step on the path to love leads to the next, as skills build upon skills to reach the greatest skill of all.  Here, then,  is the list of these skills:

  • Faith
  • Moral Excellence
  • Knowledge
  • Self-Control
  • Patient Endurance
  • Godliness
  • Brotherly Affection
  • Love for everyone

I just completed a trip to Disney World that proved my secret plan to spend the last decade or so of my life as a missionary in some country where my paltry retirement might actually keep me just above poverty level went up in smoke about as quickly as you can sing the Mickey Mouse Club theme.  Besides having no physical stamina, I ran out of patient endurance after the first three hours in an overcrowded theme park.  Self-control drifted skyward as I sighted the first Mickey sandwich ice cream trolley.  The only love I had for everyone was the kind where I would have loved for no one else to be in the park!

So, how do we achieve the seemingly unachievable?  Peter tells us we are able because of God’s promises to us: These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires (2 Peter 1:4).  Becoming a Christian is as easy as admitting to God that you are a sinner who needs redeemed.  Becoming Christ-like is a daily, conscious practice of making one’s Christianity not a mantle to be put on and off, but the very act of being.

Because of faith, I seek moral excellence.  I want to say only what is uplifting and/or holy.  I strive to do what is right always.  As I grow in my ability to be right more than I am wrong, I gain a kind of knowledge that can’t be found in a book, the knowledge of ways to act in belief and the knowledge of the superior path of righteousness over worldliness.  As we realize that doing right feels better than doing wrong, we increase our ability to control the self.  When we can control ourselves so that we do not give in to the human desires that lead us further from the ways of God, we are more likely to actively be patient with our circumstances and with others.

A Godly person reflects the daily practice of sowing seeds of righteousness in good soil.  When we join like-minded people in our enthusiasm for living a Godly life, we approach the brotherly affection to which Peter refers.  Our brothers include all those who believe in Christ like we do (including, of course, our sisters as well).

When we can love those who think as we think (which is the easiest way to love), we may just be ready to step out in faith to love even those who do not believe what we believe.  Loving everyone else means turning the other cheek, as Christ instructs.  The Golden Rule is Golden because, not only does it make this world more bearable, it stores up for us the treasures in heaven that Jesus says are our end goal instead of the treasures on this earth where moth and rust can and will destroy.

Like the Fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5:22, the steps to love of everyone in 2 Peter is your roadmap to a healthier relationship with Jesus, our Lord.  Remembering that our relationship with God must be on the right track for our relationship with other people to have a chance of growing is especially important.

As we enter the busiest time of our holiday season, I hope to bring to mind the lessons of 2 Peter as I wrangle through the increased traffic and crowds.  I will begin by remembering why we have this holiday in the first place: because our loving Creator chose to sacrifice a piece of Himself for the sins of all of us so that we all have the opportunity to grasp with both hands the promise of eternal life.

Now, that’s a road to love that I will gladly travel.  I look forward to seeing you on the journey.

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Posted in Poetry, Writing

National Poetry Writing Month #30

On Endings

For the final day of National Poetry Writing Month

Being neither Whitman nor Frost,
we have come anyway,
to this place of words,
to this gathering of minds
brought to us by a digital world
that even cummings’ imagination
did not lay onto an altered page.

Equalized by these aughts and ones
that string together like DNA,
this man-made code that awes us,
leads us, Babel-like, too close
to the throne of God,

we are drawn to the light
of our touchable screens
like moths yet to be burned,
seeking connection or truth,
the litany of an age long since
numb to what it knows

of blood and tears and war,
forever proving the depths
to which a species given choice
will fall.  We rise

to forgiveness with humbled hearts,
kept honest by our love of words,
and the peace of a yoke
laid upon us by a God
willing to die.

 

Ramona Levacy
April 30, 2013

Thanks for joining me on this journey of 30 days straight of poetry writing.  Congratulations to everyone who took up the challenge!  May we poets continue to grow in number and the love of a well-turned phrase never die.

Posted in Christianity, Faith, Love

The Importance of Choice

Even a beautiful flower can blossom among the weeds  Even beautiful flowers can have blemishes, and they often grow amongst what we consider “weeds.”  Still, flowers in the wild can be a good, visual reminder to the rest of us of how we can be beautiful anywhere.  How do we do it?

First, we have to realize that our emotions are not us.  We choose the emotions we allow ourselves to feel.  Sometimes, that backfires on us, like when we swallow our discomfort with a situation instead of expressing our thoughts (in a gentle way–remember Paul’s admonition to proceed always first in gentleness), leading eventually to so much internalized angst that we become physically ill.

But what if we instead chose each day to feel good feelings?  If Christ, God-incarnate, could take the beatings He received from the Roman soldiers without calling out a legion of angels to save Himself, then shouldn’t we, as Christians, work to follow His example by sloughing off the “slings and arrows” of this world and choosing to feel the love and peace that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit offers?

The Christmas season seems like the best time of year to get into the habit of choosing good feelings.  When you wake up to start each new day, begin by thanking God that you are here to see it.  Smile at your bedraggled self in the mirror.  Feel empathy for the frazzled driver in front of you who just cut you off and don’t seethe with an anger that can ruin your day.  After all, we all have been guilty of at least one near-miss in a car that could have led to an accident that would have been our fault.  If Christ could give His life for us, what are an extra two minutes at a light to us because the driver ahead was driving a bit slow?

Of course, to those for whom the holiday season is generally a sad time, full of bittersweet memories or genuine sorrow, the idea that we are in control of the choices we make concerning our emotions probably sounds trite and maybe even unfeeling.  But God understands our hearts.  He created them, nurtures them, and heals.  Going to God about helping you choose your feelings is the best path anyone could take.  If you doubt it, re-read your Psalms.  In these prayers and hymns from various writers, we see the true gamut of emotions and ideas between the created and their Creator.  The psalmists praise God, can’t live without Him, and downright hate Him.

But they always come back to Him.  And He is always ready to receive them.  Choose love this Christmas, and make it your New Year’s Resolution to truly choose the feelings each day that will serve God best.

That’s what I plan to do in 2012.  I pray you plan to join me.