Do Love

outstretched hand
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kubina/993034390/">Jeff Kubina</a>

1 John 3:18-24

Kids, love doesn’t happen by just talking about it. Love happens when we do it. Whenever we’re in doubt we can know, and God knows, that our hearts are in the right place by doing love. God is more than just what our hearts tell us. When we do God’s work, we receive whatever we need, just for the asking, so do God’s work and ask boldly. And this is God’s work, that we embody Jesus and love one another. This is what God wants, and all who take on this work are with God, and have God’s spirit.

It’s possible to spend a lot of time second-guessing what’s the right thing. John says we don’t have to guess. The right thing, according to John, is always the loving thing. Out of all the possibilities available in any given moment, one will be – without fail (“we receive whatever we need”) – the most loving one.

Let’s be clear. The most loving action is not always the easiest. Nor is it the thing we wish we could do, but can’t. (It may seem to be really loving to try to solve someone else’s dilemma for them, but I can’t do what someone else must, nor is it probably the most loving thing of me to do what they must do themselves.) Love is always an option that is available, right here, right now.

Let’s also be clear about this, because John is. Loving isn’t just wishing well for someone else, or saying “I’ll pray for you.” Someone who is hungry can’t eat your prayers. Let your prayer and love be giving them something to eat. What St. Francis said about preaching goes for praying and for loving too. Do it at all times, and when necessary, use words.

 

Do Right

this way, that way street sign
Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lori_greig/5331407245/">Lori Greig</a>

1 John 3:1-6

Look here. God has given us the kind of love that makes us God’s children. The only reason nobody else recognizes that fact is that nobody recognized Jesus either. Dearest friends, we are God’s children right now. It remains to be seen what will become of us, but whatever that is we know we’ll end up like Jesus. We’ll see Jesus with undistorted vision. Anyone who puts their hope in him will be vindicated, just as he was vindicated.

But people who continue to do wrong are rebels. Wrongdoing is rebellion. If you’re with Jesus you don’t do wrong, and if you do you haven’t really gotten Jesus.

Some people spend a lot of time second-guessing their faith, fretting over whether they’re “right with God.” Most of this worry can be avoided by simply asking the question, “Am I doing right? Or not?”

This isn’t the same as asking whether you made mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone miscalculates. Everyone fails. The point with mistakes and failures is to learn from them and to not repeat them.

But the question is do we do wrong. Do we do (or fail to do) what we know we need to do. The difference between a mistake and a wrongdoing is deliberation. Whether anyone else in the world recognizes what you’re doing as being right or wrong doesn’t really matter. You know.

And by that alone, you know whether you’re “right with God.” Whether you choose to do anything about that is what remains to be seen.

Do It Now

dates receeding to horizon
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbh/1252247669/">Stephen Heron</a>

Matthew 12:38-41

Some legalists and bureaucrats said, “Professor, we want you to give us a sign.”

Jesus answered, “This evil, treasonous generation wants a sign. But the only sign they’ll get is Jonah. Jonah was in the kraken’s stomach for three days and nights. Likewise, the chosen one will be buried in the ground for three days and nights. The heathens who believed Jonah will condemn this generation. They changed their ways but you’ve ignored an even more obvious indication.

Remember, Jonah is about deliverance. The insistence on needing a miracle, or some sign, that the time is right before taking action is where, most of the time, people go wrong. Jesus (and Jonah) are about deliverance. Now.

  • “If only (fill in the blank) would happen, then I’d be able to do that thing I’ve always wanted to do.”
  • “If only he/she would change, then I’d be happy.”
  • “If only my boss would recognize my efforts, I’d get that promotion.”
  • “If only I could move to New York city, I’d catch my big break.”
  • “If only Jesus would come back and save me from (fill in whatever hardship you’ve got).”

They say timing is everything. But it’s not. How many times have you looked back (hindsight is 20/20) and said, “I could have…” or “I should have…” But you didn’t. Why? What were you waiting for? The signs were there. You just couldn’t read them. Or, if you did, you second-guessed yourself and didn’t do anything about it. Timing, as it turns out, is nothing. Signs are nothing.

Action is everything.

The time to change is now. Always now. It’s not what happens. Stuff happens all the time. It’s what you do. Not someday. Now.

We Need You (And so Does Jesus)

Matthew 5:12-16

You are the zest the world needs! But if the zest goes blah, it’s time to throw it out and get some new zest.

You are the light the world needs! When you’re that good, of course you are going to stand out! You don’t install a light fixture in a black box; you put it where it will light the room. So go ahead! Stand out and let people see the great things you do so they can be inspired, too!

This is not a pep talk. This is serious.

The world needs you. We all need you.

There is something only you can do. Some flavor only you can add, some color only you can mix, some vision only you can articulate. There is some art that only you can make, some word only you can say. There is some gift that only you can give.

But if you’re timid. If you hold it back. If you let fear of standing out keep you from that thing that you have that the world needs… Well, just please, don’t let that happen.

Be not afraid! Take courage! Be bold! Go! Do it! Now!