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A Worthy Pursuit

People thrive when they know they are safe and loved.

ALL people.

Church makes people nervous.

ALL people.

The good "church people" are often either nervous they are going to offend those who wouldn't step foot in a church or they're nervous those people are going to mess up something. The people who cringe at the mere word "church" are nervous they're going to be judged or hurt or shut out. And then, there are those middle people who respect the church, but aren't "that involved" and just know to be reverent. To speak of it makes them nervous because what if you get it wrong???

On some level, we all know God is so much bigger, His ways so much higher, His wisdom so unattainable that we are right to be reverent (to use a church word) and to yield in holy fear. He's God Almighty. That's owed Him. If ever for a moment I thought I was going to spit in the face of that with my questions, I'd shut up yesterday.

The God I know in the marrow of my bones though? He's an amazing Father. He is unafraid of His children's questions. His heart aches for the orphan and the widow. He weeps with women when their beloved is lost. He comes alongside the crippled and invites them to be well. He sits near the harlot and asks her to give Him a drink as He looks her in the eye and lets her know she is BOTH seen and loved. He crosses the line - where priests are forbidden to go - just to heal lepers.

Love is His sole agenda. Love is His Holy Name.

There was no cost too high for Him when He walked this earth. No sacrifice too much. No pain too great. No cost too high today. He's not afraid to call us to the costly. He already paid the tab.

He spread out His arms and bled out for men who hated Him.

Because. Love.

So. The deeper I get in this ministry thing, the louder that becomes. Theology is crucial. I get that. Going forth in His Name is an incredible, weighty responsibility.

But, at the end of the day, all of that won't really won't matter how much we know if we don't know how to love like He does. I don't want to miss this - and He's not about to let me.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1

I don't know if it's church or people or both that make you nervous. It doesn't matter to me, really. What matters it that you know you are loved - truly loved. Not just a sunshine and rainbows, butterflies and kittens kind of love. An undying, death-defying, never-ending, no-strings-attached, will-always-stand-up-for-you kind of love by the Most High God kind of love. When you grasp that - that you're LOVED by that One? It'll change everything.

I'm just a year in, officially, but the more I study and the longer I walk, the more I realize it's not as complicated as I thought. It's hard, so hard, but it's not complicated. Knowing is important. Doing is, too. But being LOVE is what will make the difference here.

And He's been saying that from the very beginning.

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:35

I like to follow rules and fit in boxes and avoid conspiracy and confrontation... but while I do that, I get news like I've gotten this week and I can't shut up. Just in my corner of the world, I've heard of a baby born weighing just over a pound to parents who have already buried two, a son shot by accident, another who stood before a judge and wondered if his first semester of adulthood will be spent behind bars, another who's already there, and a mother of a whole slew of little boys who is going to be put in the ground while they are spread around to whomever can step up and play parent now.

We are not guaranteed another day and even if we were, we are surrounded by people just like us who just need to know this faithful Father who truly loves them right where they are right now. They need to know He is more than able to throw their mountains into the sea. They need to hear He's going to give them strength to climb those mountains if they stay in the way. And they're not going to believe it from anyone who hasn't done any climbing of their own. People need to see living proof that God can and will pick up shattered pieces and make something brand new if they'll just open their bloody hands. They need to see and believe that they, too, can be seen AND loved... that our Maker will breathe life into hopeless places.

They need to be able to trust enough to put down some roots or they're going to wander forever. Love lets people do that. Love calls ordinary people to abide with an extraordinary God. Love lets life spring forth and drown death at last.

When we dare to set aside our pride and agendas, to just stop pretending, and be who our Father has called us to be? He takes care of the rest. He sets captives free. He does all the hard stuff and heavy lifting. We are free to love and to pursue peace.

And really, what pursuit is more worthy?

"Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:14


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