On The Journey, Judy Bowman

“Love doesn’t have to be complicated”

We can take something as simple as “love your neighbor” and make it incredibly complicated. Those of us who follow Jesus Christ know that love is the heart of His message and He went about showing us how to live that love during His ministry here. We see Him healing sick people, bringing dead people back to life, comforting folks who are grieving and befriending folks most people avoided, like tax collectors and lepers and adulterers. And He ate and drank a lot, with anyone He could find. Loving others like Jesus loves seems pretty simple when we read the Gospels, but when we look around today, sometimes it feels like Christianity is more of a business than a love affair.

And that’s understandable since any time a group of people comes together for a common purpose, an organization will grow up to provide oversight. Girl Scouts have troops, baseball players have teams, churches have pastors and bishops. But I’m not talking about churches or denominations. This is about how we Christians, as individuals, have made our faith overly-complex. I’m pretty sure none of the twelve Apostles had advanced degrees in theology. And yet they took what Jesus had taught them and the grace He shared with them—-and changed the world.

Love your neighbor. That’s what Jesus did. His neighbors were the people He came across in His daily life. They were His family, the folks at the synagogue, the fishermen and farmers and shepherds that He encountered each day. They were the sick people who came to Him to be cured and the Pharisees who came to Him to condemn Him. He met them in the moment, where they were, with an openness of heart. He listened to what they had to say. When they were in the wrong, He corrected them. Remember, “go and sin no more”(John 8:11). How about “you serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?”(Matthew 22:33). He cut through all pretense and social conventions to meet their needs.

How do we love like He loves? This is one of the great questions we should be asking ourselves every day. It never gets old to ask it. And it never feels as if we know the full answer. Maybe the answer is one of the things St. Paul was writing about when he said, “For now, we see through a glass darkly…”(I Corinthians 13:12). While that may be true, right now, we’re here on earth, trying to love, trying to get it right. So I have a challenge for all of us this week. This week, we’re going to love like Jesus.

Let’s talk less and listen more. When we’re tempted to judge, let’s remember our own sins and lay that rock back down. When we see a problem that we can solve, let’s solve it. Pick up the trash, hold open the door, meet up for lunch, and make that overdue phone call. Connect with the friends and family and neighbors that we’ve been neglecting. Mend the fence. Right the wrong. Forgive the slight. Help someone else when it isn’t convenient or easy. And then keep that helping to yourself. Be a pushover this week and see how it makes you feel. As St. Ignatius prays, “Lord, teach me to give and not to count the cost.” Just for this week, let’s try not counting the cost of our love—either in time or in energy or effort. Just for this week, let God keep score of how well we’re doing.

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, He will NOT ask, “How many good things have you done in your life?” Rather, he will ask, “How much LOVE did you put into what you did?” — St. Teresa of Calcutta

Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

Pleasant Valley Baptist began having in-person services of worship this past Sunday, June 7. This service will also be posted on Facebook and YouTube. It was wonderful to be able to worship the Lord in his house. Please join us worshipping the Lord. We will be following CDC and state guidelines to mitigate Coronavirus. With the exception of meeting Sunday mornings and for Revival, June 28-July 1, all other events are canceled.

Much to pray about. Remember our country with a pandemic, economy, and social upheaval, our leaders, our citizens. Special requests are aunt and family of Mike Cross (hospice), Wyondia and Dwayne Hill, Richard Comer (missionary), Dianne Hullender, Debbie and Brian O’Neill, Betty Pitts, Denise Pitts, Claudette and Larry Armstrong, John Bryson and his family, Dot McAllister and her family, protection for all those at risk with age and underlying health conditions, and for our pastor and his family. Pray for our churches, missionaries, and evangelists. Pray for Revival in our hearts. All who are in places of special need.

Pleasant Valley Baptist continues to live stream Facebook/YouTube morning services 11 a.m., evening 6 p.m., and Wednesday Bible study. View our services for encouragement from God’s Word, but let us all come together to worship the Lord.

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