Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The things God loves

My Pastor preached a sermon a couple of weeks back called 7 Things God Loves and We Should Too. I really liked it because it was motivational in the things I am passionate about here in Dallas. I see a very wealthy Christian community that is often unaware of the needs around them. I try not to place blame, but I passionately believe that if we are truly being changed by the love of God, we naturally grow to care about the things God cares about, which means stepping outside of our safe little worlds. You can go here and find it under 2009 messages and Jonah (even though it wasn't actually part of the Jonah series, but nevermind).

This was his list, and my brief responses to it:

7 Things God Loves and We Should Too

1. His Glory
I think we struggle to understand this one - how can God most care about His glory, isn't that rather selfish? Ironically, the book Atlas Shrugged spoke a lot to me on that question! In any case, I do believe the glory of God preempts all other concerns.

2. Israel
Hah... I guess I hasn't realized Todd was so dispensational! He didn't really elaborate on this, but your theology definitely determines whether or not you agree with that one. Even if you are a dispensationalist, I guess I would say that loving the chosen people of God does not equate supporting the actions of the political state of Israel.

3. The Lost
Indeed. That all men might come to know Him. Sometimes I wrestle with this one, though. If people simply don't care about God or seeking truth, I tend to throw up my hands and think - okay, they've made their choice.

4. You
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

5. The Church
Three years ago, in the midst of a rather huge phase of disillusionment with the church, particularly in the US, I began to search scripture to see what my obligation to the church actually was. I came away convicted - God, knowing fully what would transpire between then and now, declares the church his Bride, and commands his disciples to love her and serve her. Just as Todd says, I was convicted that if He loves the Church like that, then I must love it as well, despite it's flaws. After all, isn't that part of the grace of God - it is given though totally undeserved? I now believe that it is part of the calling and charge of every believer to love and care for the Church.

6. The Poor, Broken, and Opressed by Injustice
Can I get an Amen? My generation deeply resonates with this one for some reason, which is shown by the growth in organizations like the International Justice Mission, Invisible Children, etc. I think the challenge for us is realizing where injustice and poverty exist within our own context instead of around the world. For instance... regardless of your political opinions, I would say we should care deeply about providing accessible healthcare to the poor in our own city (doesn't have to be by government mandate).

7. The Alien, the Widow, and the Orphan
I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for this one. I find the scripture filled with God's commands to love the stranger, and I think our alien and strangers are immigrants and refugees. I work with refugees and am still shocked that thousands and thousands of them live in poverty within 15 minutes of 6 or so churches of 3,000+ members each. I wish more Christians would reach out to walk alongside them. The same thing goes for widows and orphans... adoption, care for the elderly... those are also issues that are too easy to ignore because they are inconvenient. It means more than giving money, it means investing yourself, and we don't like to do that.

Todd quoted this at the end of the sermon, and I found it striking and fitting.

"For I was hungry, while you had all you need. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved." - Richard E. Stearn's rendering of Jesus' words in Matthew 25.


Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Great list! And I agree: there is a significant difference between a people and its government.

Jack Clark said...

good post.
I love that quote from Stearns... ouch.
I agree, giving money is one part of helping the alien, widow, stranger. I've become more and more convinced of the need to be their friend, advocate (powerful!), cheerleader... in short to walk along with them. Dang - if I wasn't so selfish! But God is at work...

But what if even 50% of Believers befriended the least/last/lost even to some degree... can you imagine the impact on them, on us, on the world, the perception of Believers, the glory of God? Wow!