Love is a dream that enables us both to be our Best

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I read this other day by Joan Chittister as I’m working through one of her books. She writes this,

“Love is not a model that makes two people the same person. Love is the dream that enables both of us to be our own best person – together”

And I wish every single couple I’ve ever done a marriage for, or will do a marriage would sit and think about that.

So often in our world today love is seen as making the same, rather than cherishing differences. We love to make people into carbon copies of ourselves, to find compromises where we become almost indecipherable, where we try to find ourselves in other people, and this is well…it’s not love.

Not love in the way that the Bible talks about it. Love is what binds people together and holds them together, but it doesn’t make them the same. Just go read 1 Corinthians 13 – the well known “love chapter”. This chapter is all about how to love and hold people together, but it’s people who are different. This chapter is set right in the middle of a discussion about how to hold together people with different gifts, ideas, and opinions? Paul’s answer is love can do that. Not love that reduces people to common denominators. Not love that erases all differences. Not love that makes carbon copies. But love that enables both people to be their best.

Love, when it is truly love, doesn’t erase differences; it finds a way to hold onto those differences in harmony. Love actually loves people as they are, without tyring to make them into something else. We have a different word for people who try to change others into their version of perfection. We call that coercion, we call that conquest, we call that wrong when we’ve done that throughout history (see the Crusades, “settling” of the new world, or lots of other examples).

The point is that love doesn’t seek to squish and squash someone into a mold of sameness. Love is a dream that enables people to both be their best. And that’s something worth striving for.

So in your closest relationships today – is there a way that you can help them to reach their dreams? Is there a way that you can both move towards your best? Does it start with a conversation saying – I want you to find the best and be part of that? Does it start with a surprise or a gift? It certainly starts with some effort, so why not give that a shot.

The Best Type of Gifts

I think the best gifts are often the most unexpected.
Do you know what I mean?
The small and unexpected things that a friend might give, a family member or something like that? We all expect gifts to show up on our birthday and around Christmas, but some of the best gifts are the ones that come out of the blue because someone was thinking about you.
IMG_3203This week I went over to my mom’s house and I found this from one of my Aunts – a T-shirt for pastors. She had seen this shirt and not only thought of me, but acted on it and bought it for me.
It’s often these type of small but incredibly meaningful gifts that leave an impact. It’s showing up with a coffee for a friend when they least expected it. It’s having a book delivered to their house that you thought they’d enjoy. It’s a T-Shirt about ministers that reminds you of them.
The point is we should be showing our care in creative ways. It doesn’t have to be expensive or large ways; it has to be intentional and thoughtful ways.
And that’s what this shirt means to me – an intentional and thoughtful gift – which are always the best kind.
So why not take a second and think about someone you could surprise with a gift this week. And then actually make it happen, and spread some love and hope.
Of course there is one thing small error with my gift and with this shirt…I can’t hold a tune to save my life 🙂

Just Share Your Story ~ Its that Simple

445240_46957018On Sunday we looked at a unique text in Mark 5. Here Jesus heals a man possessed by a demon. What is interesting is that after being changed by Jesus and transformed the man wants to follow Jesus. This is all pretty straightforward I would think. If Jesus transforms you completely, deciding to follow him isn’t a stretch. But Jesus does something unique. He says no. He actually refuses to let the man come with him. And instead he says, “Go home to your family, and friends, and share the mercy God has shown you”

In essence, Jesus says simply go home and share your story. Share you story with those around you. Let them know about how you’ve been changed. Simply share the mercy God has shown you with others.

And in this one little verse I think we get a huge insight into how to share the love of Jesus Christ with others. We don’t need to force it into conversations, we don’t need to go door-to-door; we can simply share our story with our friends, family and neighbors. We can with humility, and grace share how God is changing our lives. We can say how God has freed us from fear, given us hope, supported us in difficulty, given us a purpose etc. We can simply share the wonderful things God is doing in our lives.

This is simple, easy, and sensitive to others. If you have a true friendship with others who aren’t following Jesus, they should care about how your life is changing. And if Jesus is the cause of that change then we should feel free to share it. The focus isn’t on changing others, but sharing the change within ourselves.

And the amazing thing is the story in Mark 5 actually testifies to how remarkably powerful this can be. As Jesus leaves the man the townspeople hate Jesus. They are completely against Jesus and want nothing to do with him. But Jesus leaves behind one man and his story with these people. We read that the man goes home to the region of the 10 Towns. A few chapters later Jesus shows up in the same region again. But this time the response from the people is completely different. One man and his story has changed the region from being against Jesus to being interested in Jesus. Mark records that with the women and children there, 10,000 people (approx.) show up to see Jesus. This is the power of sharing your story. People can become interested in Jesus and actually seek him out.

So on Sunday we left everyone with one challenge. Share your story. It’s that simple and see what God might do.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Share Your Story

Take Aways…

  • Jesus is already active in our relationships
  • If our life isn’t changing lives we’re missing something
  • Details matter even minor ones
  • Jesus saw the man
  • Go home and share your story
  • Sharing your story, changes lives
  • More than skin, and bone, muscle and tendon – you are made of stories. Michael Gungor
  • We don’t need more sermons, conferences, or Bible studies we need more of Jesus and a willingness to share him.
  • Our stories have to be real, honest, and focused on Jesus

Discussion Questions for Adults: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Have you ever struggled to share Jesus with others before? What made you uncomfortable or struggle?

Whose story has impacted and influenced you to follow Jesus? How did you hear about it, or how was it shared with you?

What mercy has Jesus shown you throughout the years? Share a few stories about how Jesus has changed you.

Who are you friends with that God might be leading you to share your story with them? Take time and pray that God gives you an opportunity to share your story with them.

Discussion Questions for Young Families: If its true that sharing our stories change lives, why not take time and share your personal story with your kids. Be honest, be truthful, and take time to bring them along the journey with you.

Challenge This Week: Share your story with someone this week