In pastoral ministry there is a joyful experience of welcoming new people into the flock. It always excites me when God entrusts new families to our church and I’m often eager to find out His purposes in merging a singular life or a full family with the group of believers at New Bridge Church where I serve. When someone commits his or her life to Christ, we have the joyful privilege of helping them to begin to understand what they have in their new relationship with God. Others come to us having already been saved, but now seeking a new place to worship and serve the Lord. On occasion, God allows some bruised and battered brethren to knock on New Bridge’s door, seeking recovery and healing from being beaten up in the fight for faith. No matter what the circumstances of their arrival, I feel both a personal blessing and responsibility to serve them in the capacity of a pastor. I love it when God sends new people our way.
It is my conclusion that, ultimately, people are seeking love throughout their lives. God has hardwired us both to seek love and to give love. This is the default, innate manner in which we are born and will continue to live unless something damaging occurs to interrupt the process. Even when wounded by people or circumstances, the hunger to love and to be loved does not completely disappear, except in the most extreme cases. Everyone in your life will only fully realize whom God has created them to be when they experience His saving love, and then the subsequent realization of selfless love from the the Church. Lesser loves apart from Christ have benefit also, but there is only the fullness of love’s experience when an individual has personal contact with that sacrificial love placed before our eyes at Calvary. It is after that moment that one begins to understand why he or she is here and where he or she is going. It is nothing short of exhilarating.
“The single desire that dominated my search for delight was simply to love and to be loved.” – Augustine
Here are some short snippets regarding my desire to show greater love to others. Perhaps they will benefit you also as you look at them. For me, some of them do not come easily because the antithesis of love is not hate but, rather, selfishness. There is not a person on earth whom I hate but, admittedly, there are many that I love less than I love myself. Love is best defined as the commitment to seek the highest good of another. Selfishness always desires to do the opposite so it is the foremost opposing force to the fullness of love. Here’s some of what I’m pondering these days:
If I love you I will listen to you. If I love you I will seek you out. If I love you I will make you more important than me. If I love you I will be more eager to give to you than receive from you. If I love you I will forgive you, I will trust you, I will make myself vulnerable with you. If I love you I will seek to lighten your burden, not add to it. If I love you I will serve you, affirm you and occasionally confront you when it benefits you. If I love you I will seek to set you free from everything that resists God’s plan for you. If I love you I will tell you the truth. If I love you I will sometimes keep quiet. If I love you I will not speak to others about you in any way which reduces you in their eyes. If I love you I will pray for you, encourage you and laugh with you as often as I may. If I love you I will be there for you in a way that leaves you no doubt that you are important to me. If I love you I will give myself to you in a manner that costs me something so that we are both ensured that we know that you have value in my heart. If I love you…I will remain convinced that you are a person of great significance to God and worthy of my ongoing investment. If I love you I will not give up on you.
I’m working on the above paragraph in my relationships with others. It’s a great place to start and will likely keep me occupied for the remainder of my days…
…and if I love you I’ll keep working at it until you are convinced.
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