Submitted by: Pastor Rodney Hopper, First Christian Church
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35). This “new command” given by the Lord was given while Jesus was here on earth. He was doing a new thing! He was teaching believers a new way of living, a new commandment, a new covenant: to love as we have been loved. He was teaching us the importance of going deeper into the heart – seeing within everyone as He did the very image of God. Reading and meditating on God’s word in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the different ways that Jesus loved others – the way He loved those who have been cast aside, those labeled as outsiders, as terrible sinners, those who were avoided by the religious leaders of His day. Jesus opened His arms of love and gave them an opportunity for a “new beginning” through grace, through forgiveness that covers all wrongs. For those who made a choice to follow the Master’s way of love – their life started a “new journey” that changed their hearts of stone into deep pools of living water.
New beginnings are often seen in July and August as families prepare for the youth in our community that will be starting a new school year. Teachers will set up their classrooms with the intent of helping their students have the best learning environment – one that is filled with laughter, inspiration, thoughtfulness, positive differences, caring, student focused and fun.
Many families in our area are boating, fishing, camping, swimming and relaxing as they get the opportunities, especially those with younger children. They have an opportunity to grow closer to each other through shared experiences and adventures. They have a greater opportunity to share love by laughing together, working together on shared projects, playing games, listening to each other more intimately before the hustle of a new school year and cooler weather comes. Some have had the opportunity to worship at Vacation Bible School and some have had the opportunity to grow deeper in loving friendship at summer church camps.
May your new beginnings also include praising God and growing deeper in His love as we learn to love not only those who love us, but those who are considered unlovable. “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.” (Matthew 5:43-47).
The Secret of Life
As the Lord God was creating the world, He called upon His archangels. The Lord asked His archangels to help Him decide where to put the Secret of Life.
“Bury it in the ground,” one angel replied. “Put it on the bottom of the sea,” said another. “Hide it in the mountains,” another suggested.
The Lord replied, “If I see to do any of those only a few will find the Secret of Life. The Secret of Life must be accessible to everyone!”
One angel replied, “I know: put it in each man’s heart. Nobody will think to look there.” “Yes!” said the Lord, “Within each man’s heart.” And so it was – The Secret of Life lies within all of us.