MATURE LOVE ~ 4/28/08

We all have an insatiable need to be liked (to greater or lesser degrees), to feel approved of, to feel settled and secure.  Where mature love comes into this equation is believing and trusting God to fulfill our deepest cravings rather than defaulting to a self-absorbed reaction that is consistently doing or performing -- even sacrificing -- with human approval as the motivation rather a desire to genuinely benefit the life experience of someone else.

The most common arena for this type of immature love is our personal lives, but unfortunately it doesn’t stop there.  Left unchecked, it can creep into how we  “do” church, or how a church “does” ministry.  Some of this has led to the development of numerous church denominations over the centuries, and yet I don’t believe it’s fair to put the blame for an un-unified church there; the lion’s share of the blame rests with the ego of church leaders (I can point all I want, there’s still 3 fingers pointing back at me).

Here’s a good, challenging question for all of us to ask on occasion, an uncomfortable but necessary “check-up” question that may help The Outpost stay true to the heart of God:  Am I promoting a church culture of immature love, one that "looks in the mirror" (how does this or that reflect on me or my church) or one that sees "face to face" – one that sees and then seeks to fulfill the needs of people regardless of where they go to church?”  Donald Miller, author of (one of my top 5 favorite books) Blue Like Jazz , echoes this caution –

I didn’t want to befriend somebody just to trick them into going to my church.  Rick said that was not what he was talking about.  He said he was talking about loving people just because they exist – homeless people and Gothic people and gays and fruit nuts.  And then I liked the sound of it.  I liked the idea of loving people just to love them, not to get them to come to church.  If the subject of church came up, I could tell them about Imago (his church), but until then, who cared.  So we started praying every week that God would teach us to live missional lives, to notice people who needed to be loved.   (135  Blue Like Jazz

I want to be clear about something.  You don't need to be ashamed to befriend someone because you want them saved. If salvation is the best thing that could happen to a person, you should be ashamed for not wanting them to experience it. What I'm talking about in this letter is the "because" -- wanting them saved "because" of their incalculable value as beings created in the image of God, as opposed to other reasons.  I'm talking about doing whatever it takes to get people saved, not because it makes you feel good, or benefits us as a church (although both are true as supernatural side-effects), but "because" it's what's best for them.  Jesus always loved people in the best way -- the way that was in their greatest overall interest, the way that most greatly benefited them in light of the "Big Picture."  Sometimes, that made Him unpopular -- but that is mature love.

Surrounded By Grace,

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*Grace induces faith & Grace is obligated to faith ~