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Posts Tagged ‘love for neighbor’

This morning, the FB post of a young friend of mine caught my attention. The post read something like this: My attitude is based on how you treat me. I took a deep breath and responded, saying: Or, my friend, there’s this. I’ve been working on having a better attitude… no matter how anyone treats me. Sometimes I need to confront my own negative spirit so that I can adjust my attitude concerning a person or situation.

My friend thanked me. But our conversation didn’t end there. My reason and all my senses encouraged me not to shy away from a deeper conversation. So, transitioning to a less public mode of correspondence, I confessed my fear of offending her. But here’s the thing, I told her: There is a negative spirit spreading not just across the country but in our congregational families and homes. At times, I feel this negative spirit wanting to consume me. I must call it what it is… and press back against it. It’s too easy to give myself a pass and just say what I want or maintain the attitude that justifies my cause. But, truth be known (and more often than not), it’s my own attitude that needs adjustment.

Stay the course, I encouraged my friend: Don’t forget who you are! You are God’s own daughter in Christ. Knowing that, you are equipped to battle all wrongs… in the spirit of humility and truth. Your family needs you. Your life and how you live it matters to more people than you know.

Only a few minutes passed before my friend reached out. “I appreciate your honesty and am not offended at all,” she told me. “But lately it seems as though I’m a literal rug laying on the floor of this home. Some days it’s so hard to keep going… to keep giving… knowing that everything I do is for people who don’t seem to appreciate me. Deep down, I know they do, but they sure could do a better job of showing it! I know… I’m selfish. I admit it. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude when I feel like I’m taken for granted.”

It wasn’t difficult to recognize myself in this younger woman. And it would have been unkind of me to just let her confession hang in thin air. I took another deep breath and wrote these words to her:

My dear friend, I do understand. Some challenging experiences in my life once prompted my husband to share this verse and commentary with me. I’ve never forgotten them. St. Paul writes, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:17). The commentary that speaks so well to this Scripture is from Oswald Chambers who wrote,

Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful—to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say—”I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching and saying, ‘Well done.’ It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a doormat under other people’s feet … Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?

Remember your Baptism! As Lutheran Christians, you and I are both God’s children through Baptism. God has given us the gift of faith! He has called us by His name! He has made us His heirs! We are redeemed by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit! Believing this, we begin to reflect more of Christ and less of ourselves. Our attitude toward others changes.

Oh my! I wish I would have better understood the Lutheran teaching of vocation when I was a younger wife and mom. God has been patient with me and now, as a grandmother, He is showing me that a vocation is the station in life where God places us and from where we serve others.

Think on this! You have vocations of woman, wife, mother, daughter, niece, friend, and so on. In all these vocations you are called by your heavenly Father to serve your neighbor. You are called to be faithful in these stations whether you feel appreciated or not. Why?

Because in doing good for others we are loving God. Those we serve—whether they acknowledge our service or not—are receiving the benefits of our love for God.

As for our own personal care and nurture, well, God knows our needs better than we do. He provides just what we need when we need it most.

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In 2009, after taking office, President Obama declared the month of June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.”  Now he has endorsed so-called same-sex “marriage.”

On June 1, a group of African-American pastors requested a meeting with the President to discuss their concerns with his “endorsement of gay  marriage as a civil right.”  These pastors believe that when government works to promote sin, Christians cannot be silent.

Aren’t we compelled to ask: 1) What are the basic rights of American citizens?  2) When God’s Word calls a particular choice or behavior immoral and, therefore, a sin, should it be celebrated as a basic right under the guise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”  3) What happens when a government such as ours creates “rights” based on changeable or controllable behavior?

President Obama has often referred to his Christian faith.  In this case, it is reported that he told the African-American pastors that he knows that he should treat others as he wants to be treated.  Well, that leads me to another question:

What does it mean to love our neighbor as ourselves?

Sometimes, our neighbors make choices different from ours.  Sometimes they offend, irritate, or intimidate us.  Nevertheless, they remain our neighbors.  We are called to love God by loving and serving the best interests of our neighbors.  This does not mean we must endorse their choices or behaviors, especially if those behaviors offend God.  It does mean that we are to support and care for our neighbors even when we cannot support a behavior that God labels sinful.

We love our neighbors best when we fear, love, and trust in God first.  Knowing God and His design for our lives as male and female helps us to serve our neighbors, not by approving of wrong things, but by seeing them as real people who struggle (as I do) with real challenges and temptations.  Martin Luther wrote, “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

The Word — Jesus Christ — is Truth.  When he calls something a sin, it is so.  Our vocation as Christians is to be faithful to the Word of Truth and, at the same time, be kind in how we contrast deception with truth, darkness with light, evil with good.

For those who want to be kind to their neighbors, may I suggest:
Exodus International and Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays

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