Sunday, July 20, 2014

Proof is in the Pudding

CS Lewis wrote that for us to say we love our neighbor, but then to avoid them, is not love at all.  If we are to truly love our neighbor, we are to act in accordance to what love is.  Active, engaged, sacrificial.  He goes on to say that when we begin to discipline ourselves to behaving AS IF we loved them, we will soon discover that we have truly come to love them.

Lip service is what we are most comfortable offering to people.  What we are most comfortable offering to God.  Telling your spouse, "I Love you" is easy.

But the words do not make it true

Affirming with words all the truths of Christianity is easy.

But it doesn't make you a Christian.

There is a funny little truth about the way we are wired.  Actions drive our feelings.  Feelings rarely create consistent action.  When the butterflies of new love wear off, we are left with nothing but the decision to either, by an act of the will, continue to live in love, or, to not. 

When we wait until we "feel" like something to do something, those feelings and those actions become ever more spaced apart.  Consistently applying the will to act in accordance with the behaviors we know to be true and right, develops the feelings and allows them to grow over time.

This does not mean "resigning" oneself to misery and obligation.  A willful act of love is actively aligning your heart with you behavior.  Begrudgingly forcing something grows resentment.  Engaging the whole self towards acts of love changes us from the inside out. 

Christian's are not called to have feelings about God.  But to live in accordance to the truth about God.  Life is messy.  It can be tragic, and broken.  There are times when our pain and frustration will cause us to say, "No more, not today, I can't do it." 

These are the most important times for our internal(and eternal) development.  When the deck is stacked against us, how do we respond? 

"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a broken spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him from them all."
- Psalm 34:18-19
I bet you missed something when you read that. 
It doesn't say WHEN deliverance will come.  The act of Christian faith is to not to always have the answers RIGHT NOW, or, to have an easy care-free life, but to be rooted in the hope we have in the promise that is found in the Cross. 
And that takes a daily act of the will. 
Our hope cannot be based upon some previous feelings of bliss and heart racing palpitations of early love.  Because those things fade.  And if that is all you hoped in, you will be crushed when difficulties arise. Instead, in the person of Christ we have a promise that doesn't erase the struggle today, but points to the hope of every tomorrow.  When we begin to be shaped by this, it changes our behaviors today. 
Let me challenge us in two ways....
1- Are you waiting to feel good about God before you hope in God?  That will get you no where.  Make a decision to actively seek Him even when it is not easy, and you will find your hope. 
2-  This is about us as people living with people as well.  What relationships are you struggling in right now.  Can you begin to stop trying to change how you feel, but change how you act?  Your relationship doesn't need jump started feelings, but a new way of loving.

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