Let Us Love … In Truth And Action

[]Have you experienced love in your life? Have you been able to offer love to others? In our lesson this morning from 1st John, we hear about the experience of love and faith: 'We know love by this, that Jesus laid down his life for us - and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?' The lesson goes on, 'Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.'

What does it mean for us, as people of faith, to hear these words and to understand that yes, we are called to love? We are called to love each other, we are called to love ourselves, we are called to love the stranger, and Jesus even asked us to love our enemies. So we are a people called to love. And that comes a little easier at times than to be people of truth and action. It is a little easier, though there are challenges to love those who do not like us and do not care to be around us, or for us to be around those who we just don't care for much. But still, we can find a way to love them.

In this passage from 1st John, the writer tells us that loving is greater than simply our feelings for someone or a simple gesture of goodwill. We are to love with truth and action, to involve ourselves in the lives of others when they need help. He is specific…that those who have the world's goods should be the ones who, when they see someone in need, offer help, for how can God's love abide in us if we see need around us, and have the ability to help, and we do not? The writer challenges us to recognize that ignoring those people means that God's love may not be so active in us as we might proclaim.

The good news is I've seen lots of truth and action happening within our congregation. I've seen renewal and I've seen transformation. We have wonderful joys to celebrate, but also lots of work to do. Today we celebrate that one of our members went to Biloxi, Mississippi to help rebuild homes. 'George' used his special talents, with truth and action in his heart, to help where he knows he has the ability to help, to help those truly in need. That is love! He went on our behalf and we happily sent him. That is an example of loving in truth and action. And George needed to raise some money for the trip, and the church responded because we saw love in action. So we celebrate that with George.

Last week, we celebrated that our youth went 30 hours without eating to raise awareness and money for the hungry around the world, especially children who have no choice in the matter. There were our youth (and I'm very proud of them) living in truth and action, loving with their hearts, but also with their bodies and going without food for 30 hours. For teens who often eat four or five meals a day plus snacks, which is typical as they are growing, that's a really tough challenge. And they did it with great energy and commitment and raised some money and also collected food items. And their hearts were warmed as well through the process, and through them our hearts are warmed.

Take a moment and ask yourselves, "How have I loved in truth and action in the last week?" Take a moment and just reflect on that. (pause) I bet some things have come to mind. Recognize that those times when you loved in truth and action are holy times. And what you did was help be a part of creating a sacred space and a sacred trust that God's love was working through you to someone who really needed to experience God's love.

Now take a moment and ask yourselves, "How have I failed to love with truth and action in the last week?" That might be a little harder because we don't like to do that because it's uncomfortable, but let us consider that for a moment. (pause) Could everybody think of at least one?

Think about the love we talked about that you've experienced in your life and that you've been able to give. And think about how wonderful the experience was of knowing you were able to help someone, to be that venue through where God's love touched someone else's life and probably made a great difference.

Now, contrast that with opportunities we missed where the Spirit may have nudged us to share God's love by writing a card or making a phone call, when we've thought, "I should do something about this," but maybe couldn't figure out how to do that. Missed opportunities for us can often become regrets or, in the Reformed tradition, guilt. We should use those events or those feelings to help inspire us when opportunities of love pop up in front of us.

Remember that God gives us many opportunities and that the more faithful we are, the more those opportunities will come. Each of you is an instrument of God's love, of God's peace, and God's hope. Each of you has special talent. If people often come to you needing the help that seems to be a talent you possess, that is no accident. People are being led to you. Within our faith community, there are a number of gifts. And it's amazing how those gifts combine to make the whole of a family that God has created so that needs could be met. It's amazing how that happens. And our new choir director is one of those gifts to us.

In this season of joy and new life, let us reflect on the words from 1st John and realize that there are opportunities for us to transform who we are daily by offering ourselves in the service of others through those opportunities of love and action that God places before us. God's Spirit will guide people to you. Receive those moments, take time to reflect on them, and offer that love that we have been called to share.

May 3, 2009

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