This week's Scripture reading comes from Matthew 5:31-32. If you need caught up on your readings, check it out here.
Good morning, PoC!
Well... you probably won't find this week's Scripture reading as you're browsing Hallmark cards in preparation for this Saturday (Valentine's Day)! Jesus is most certainly taking the listeners of that time, as well as us, on quite a journey with this Sermon on the Mount! We know we can trust Him and that He has our best interests at heart, and that His plans for us include having a relationship with Him, as well as forgiveness and restoration.
This passage is fairly straightforward and Jesus gets to the point. We know that God is in the business of love, reconciliation, and restoration. It is not God's intention that marriage be taken lightly, and that, consequently, people get taken lightly and get casually tossed aside when things get "boring" or "difficult." Likewise, it is not God's intention that people abuse and cause harm to each other or break promises to each other. Relationships can be complicated. People can be complicated. We need more than just prayer for "less divorce" in that it simplifies what is a potentially complex issue. So, in light of all this, how can we come together in prayer as a church as we pray through this week's passage?
Should we just pray for less divorce? We could. I think that together, though, we can target our prayers to a deeper level than just avoiding a certain action. We need to pray with the heart of the matter in mind. We need to pray for love to win. We need to pray specifically and we need to pray boldly. We are a praying church and we are going to battle on behalf of relationships everywhere!!!
Really, in any relationship (be it between husband and wife, friend and friend, parent and child, or between us and God), we want to see love win. Valentine's Day may be fast-approaching, but we know that despite what floral shops and jewelry stores might say, there is much more to love than roses, sparkly cards, and boxes of chocolates.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love as such:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love is some serious business! And love is up against some serious enemies. We may want to see love win, but can it?
How does one get (and maintain) the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians? Especially at the end of the day, when the dishes aren't done and the baby is crying, and the bills aren't paid, and irritability is at an all-time high? When comments that don't affirm, but just cast doubt on confidence in a loved one's ability are quick to emerge? When the secret comes to light? When the promises are broken? When "the last time" becomes "the next time"? When there is doubt? When there is mistrust? When there is fatigue? When there is disinterest? When you just don't care?
Can love overcome all that? How are we supposed to be that loving?
1 John 4:19 tells us that "We love because he first loved us".
John 15:9b tells us "Now remain in my love."
1 Corinthians 16:14 tells us to "Do everything in love."
We need the love of God to daily fill us up and daily flow through us so that we can go out and love on other people as God would have us love on them.
If we truly want to see love win in our own lives and in the lives of well, everyone, we need to see Jesus at the center of it all - at the center of us - therefore influencing every thought and word and action. We can only begin to love as God intended love to be because He created love, He defined it, He showered us with it, and then empowered us to turn around and shower it on other people.
Can you imagine the drastic transformation that would occur if we all cultivated the fruit of the Spirit a bit more (it includes love!)? If love flowed from the correct source (God)? If we loved with an enduring love and an undying love? If we approached everything in love and with love? Can you imagine if love won?
PoC, let's pray together with a singular focus today: that we would see love win.
Thank you for loving us enough to die for us. Thank you for forgiving us and restoring us. Thank you for empowering us to keep going. Please help us stay connected to you daily so that we can experience your love and love others. Thank you for modeling for us what it looks like to love with an enduring, undying, love.
See you Sunday.