Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fools for Christ's Sake

Are you willing to be considered a fool, in the eyes of the world, for Christ's sake? Am I? By being fools for the sake of Christ, we are truly being wise.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." -Jim Elliot
9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;
 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
 13Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
1 Corinthians 4:9-13 KJV
In verse 9, Paul talks of the apostles being made spectacles. The spectacle idea here, was not a positive one. Paul applies this idea of being a spectacle, particularly to the apostles, but also to anyone who is a message bearer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The majority of our spectators are not there to cheer us on; instead, they are throwing out taunts, stumbling blocks and trying to get us to falter.
Verses 10-13, are a series of contrasts between the apostles and the proud Corinthians (some of whom were believers) who ridiculed them. The beginning of verse 10 says "we are fools for Christ's sake". The apostles were fools for Christ; this doesn't mean they were really fools, only that they were treated as such because of the way they were living out their lives.
In verses 12 and 13, Paul speaks of how they (the apostles) were treated. Instead of returning evil for evil, they returned evil with good. They, like their Master, Jesus Christ, were rejected, defamed, and persecuted. This is something that is hard for us, as humans, to do because our flesh doesn't like NOT being well-liked or popular. But for the sake of Christ, are we willing to be called names and not be well liked? The only way we can be triumphant over our flesh, is to lean on Christ and trust Him. Only thru Him are we able to endure anything that comes our way.
May we always want to be fools for Christ, and reap the benefits by one day being able to go home and live with Him in Heaven!

Monday, February 18, 2013

What is Love?

Love, what is it? I believe sometimes we can have a very warped view of love. The world has a way of twisting what God is and making it into something that is very superficial. When you think of the word love, what do you think? Do you think of a warm fuzzy feeling or do you think of it as something that is selfless and that is more action than words? First off, what does the bible say of love? In 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 it says and I quote:
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Whenever I thought of love I thought of how I love my parents, family, friends and God and didn't think of love really more than that. But after reading a book last year, thinking on it the past few weeks, talking it over with a friend, and our sunday school lesson last Sunday it really got me to thinking. Love is such a vital part of our Christian walk. The reason being is that love is God's very nature. We, on our own, cannot produce Godly love BUT we can have God's love only if we allow Christ to live in us and thru us. Oh, sure it won't be easy at first and sometimes it will just plain be hard but it is definitely worth it. Love without God is empty. It will last only for a season but when rough spots come along it will not really stick around.  
Love is the opposite of pride. Pride is everything love is not. Love is kind, suffers long (patient), doesn't envy, doesn't flaunt itself or proud, doesn't behave in a unseemly manner, isn't selfish, doesn't get easily provoked, nor thinks no evil. It rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endureth all things. Now pride just thinks of itself and no one else. To me it seems like love is tougher than we make it out to be. Love is more than a feeling...God wants us to experience a love that is above and beyond human emotions.
I asked the question earlier, if love is more actions than words? If someone says, "I love you" to you but just goes on tearing you down and saying cruel things to you will you think that person loves you? Probably not. Love is not just saying you love someone but SHOWING you love that person. I know for me I struggle with showing people that I love them. Here again, some people are easier to show love to. For most people it is harder to show your family and those really close to you that you love them. Christ showed us the ultimate example of love by coming to earth and dying on the cross for MY sins. THAT is the ultimate example of love.
So what got me thinking on love? Well about a year ago I read a book called, Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It got me thinking about what love is and I came to realize that love is way tougher, a lot deeper and just plain more involved than I ever realized before. I haven't read this book since then and I don't really remember a lot of specifics (although I do want to reread it) but the past few weeks have gotten me thinking about love again. A few situations have come up in my life that made me think about how I love, why I love and why sometimes it is easier to love some people than others. One of them being that I met someone that was way different than anyone I had ever met before. I realized I had a choice, I could just love them for who they are and ignore their differences or I could make a big deal out of how they are different than me and then close any chance of ever really being friends and showing them Christ. Another was a person with who I work. I often felt like that particular person didn't like me. Then I thought of love. I said to myself, I am not doing anything or going out of my way at all to make an effort to love this person or give this person a chance. So I decided to make an effort to talk to them and just be friendly. And wouldn't you know, I have been able to have a few good conversations with that person. Just opening yourself to opportunities, even if it means you will get hurt, is a good way to show love.
So, when I think of love, I think of something that you do. I think of what Christ did for me and how I can show that love to others.