If love, then…

There’s a pear tree in my backyard that was struck by lightning.  The result, like a gap in a kid’s smile, is a tree missing a chunk of green along with two dead limbs still reaching hopelessly towards the sky.  My pleas to cut it down are refuted by my wife’s patient response of “no.”  Last night I sat on my patio looking up through the gap and dead limbs and saw my life in that tree.  Somehow, it was the dead limbs that gnawed at this feeling that dreams of success in parts of life’s journey had died or went unfulfilled.  It was a semi-regretful state of contemplation of how my life has played out.   To my surprise there was usefulness found in my gaze as I watched a spider mend its web within the dead branches.  Despite, the glory of leaves and continually drying wood, the dead limb still served a purpose, albeit an unexpected one.  I can humbly state, that lightning has pruned my life in my collision with the ambient love of God that surrounds us all.  The violence done to my perspective regarding casual denial, whether intentional or unintentional, of the dignity inherent in other people was a transformation I cannot undo.  As next year brings more leaves, I hope I grow in offering shade to the persecuted and refuge for the unexpected.   As I continue to “see” what God stills me to see, I will strive to remember humility and patience instead of judgment with those with very different lifestyles and perspectives than my own.  I believe in the art of conversation and the gift of listening in hopes that if I dare demonstrate compassion for the dignity indwelling in another, then agreeing or disagreeing loses its importance.  Although I cannot compromise my heart for God, it doesn’t mean I can’t give it away in friendship.

Therefore… If love, then all conversation is possible.  Whether it is abortion, Chic-fil-A, donkeys vs. elephants, same-sex marriage, stem cell research, or a favorite ice cream flavor – let our words and actions reflect the longsuffering God endures for our intentions, words and actions.   As politically divisive campaigns rage on looking for allies, remember our prayers to serve others so God may lift them up.  Remember we must bound forward for community’s sake, not in divisive conquer.  If we are repulsed by another’s sin, then remember it is an opportunity to listen and encourage them that a love still exists to accompany them through any darkness.

His,

Chris

Dare to Love

Dare we carry the wounds of our Savior,
Then Jesus deserves better then this.
How dare we offer the sting of judgment –
Mocking friendship with a Judas kiss?

Dare we let Love conquer all,
To stand and listen to what appalls?
Dare we lift the broken when they fall,
Simply because dignity calls?

Opportunity is our Savior’s knock,
A door that opens when love is pure.
Remember Love makes all things possible,
That’s bound by a forgiveness only God endures.

©2011 by Chris Clody 8/17/2012

Please “Leave a reply” and share your thoughts regarding listening – even when it hurts. Thanks!

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9 thoughts on “If love, then…

  1. “O Divine Master,
    grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand;
    to be loved, as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive.
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”

    Thanks for this post!

  2. If only we lived in an ideal world, where we could express our opinions without heated exchange. Unfortunately, we don’t & the ‘media circus’ of this upcoming election is unfortunately fueling the flames. Whatever a person’s views of Chick-fil-A are, what has been lost is that they were specifically & directly ‘asked’ what their opinion what a marriage is defined as. When they gave it, that’s when the attacks started. What many Christians & nonchristians don’t realize, is that unfortunately, Christians are the last group of people, & the Bible is the last thing that is ‘acceptable’ to profane, attack, & make untruths about, like labeling them as ‘hate-filled’ & ‘bigots.’ As Christians, our job is to respond in love & truth, but the truth just seems to make the world angrier. I can see now why Jesus called the religious leaders of His time ‘snakes,’ ‘vipors,’ & ‘whitewashed tombs,’ & why Christians who attempt to emulate Christ respond in the same way to combat lies made about our Savior & our faith. The only solace is that God is in control & that He will justly deal with those who attack us & our faith. But, knowing that, it makes me even more passionate to spread the Truth, knowing where the majority of people will end up if they continue to reject Him, because like God, I wish no one to perish & I don’t delight in those who do. What do you do when those who deem themselves out to wise, respond with foolishness? The only thing we can do – pray for them, & remember the words of the apostle Paul:

    “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18

    Yet, as Christians, we must be brave & defend our faith &, as Chris said, not compromise it when asked – just as Chick-fil-A did, despite what we will be called or labeled, in the manner that Peter instructed us:

    “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” – 1 Peter 3:15

    And as far as ice cream goes – mint chocolate chip. 🙂

  3. hmm…I’m going with Moose Tracks… Thanks for your insights Steve, in fact, this blog was inspired by one of your facebook posts. I wrote this not as a criticism of the views exchanged between you and your fb friends but because of three reasons: 1)the media is using people as pawns to polarize and 2 & 3) the issue at the heart of this debate is due to perspectives of what is love and how does it found tangible in compassion and tolerance. I won’t go into the obvious reasons why media does what it does due to selfish agendas (as if Chic-fil-A felt differently before this campaign season or God’s abhorrence of the sinful actions that oppresses creation from His love), but for 2 & 3, that begs the question of what is real love. Real love stems from God’s love of Himself which is found in the image of everybody. Therefore the desire to seek God, regardless of how oppressed that desire is, is there for their possible salvation. Sadly, many will not lift their eyes trusting in the sufficiency of God to willingly seek that salvation through His Son Jesus. Since God loves Himself, then He also desires the pursuit and re-union of the souls He breathed His life into. Finally, and hopefully to the point, it is a Christian’s view of eternal love, that stands against the current of temporal satisfaction and lust. It is the Christian aware of his/her forgiveness, that approaches any conversation with fearlessness knowing if Love,… etc. Christianity screams with many voices, ranging from a humble desire to love God through neighbor to misguided isolationism. We must approach the dignity of God residing in ALL people, as if we were approaching Christ himself, and offer them our humility instead of some privileged air of condescension. The most powerful love of all is but a gift the humbly forgiven offer freely without condition. Tolerance and compassion are bound by this eternal perspective of love and what God wills to bring hearts to repentance so as to partake in the Kingdom and salvation at hand.
    Shine on,
    Chris

    • Chris,

      Thanks for the reply & the reminder. Sadly, in this whole media frenzy, I lost 2 friends of 25 years. Neither of them are Christian (one thinks he is, yet he dresses up like a woman & makes money doing it in a heavy metal band, & he rejects the orthodox Biblical Christ for a Jesus he created in his mind, who accepts everyone & everything – but I digress). What has upset me more than anything is when I hear people proclaim things about Jesus that aren’t true. That’s when I into ‘reproof mode,’ which then leads to anger from others. People claim they want to know the truth, provided that it doesn’t contradict ‘their’ worldview or impression of God. But, as Christ frequently reminds us, He is in control, & nothing happens without Him allowing it to happen, & that it isn’t part of His greater plan. It’s hard to imagine God allowing Hitler to be in power during WWII, as part of His bigger plan, but through murder & devastation, God’s glory shined on. So, although America isn’t there…yet, you can see seeds of Satan being planted & spread throughout America, even to the point that even ‘educated’ people can’t discern good from evil:

      “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20

      I find myself praying for America a lot more lately. It’s times like this when you find out who is truly on your side – and more importantly – who’s on God’s side.

      Moose tracks…good substitute. Of course, maybe my preference towards mint chocolate chip comes from me trying it for the first time from an ice cream vendor called “Steve’s”??? 🙂

  4. Hey bro,
    Obedience to Jesus comes at a cost and I offer empathy for your pain of friendship lost. Clearly, the words of Christ will divide, and expecting anger for willingly being a disciple to The One who said people will hate you because they hated me first seems par for the course. Despite this burden of cost that will not only divide us from friends but also family, to a forgiven heart no cost is too much. I also pray more for our country lately and its current course of disillusion from what is holy. I pray for a pruning of this disjointed body of Christ away from the deplorable marketing and profiting done in the name of Jesus. Pray for me as I pray for you Steve, that through God’s grace and mercy we are used to foster a renewed appetite for the One who makes all things new.
    Although the burden of the cross is heavy- it is also temporary.
    His,
    Chris

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