Feb 19, 2011

Exceptions to love?

No matter how much we might say or believe that love makes the world go 'round, I have a sneaky suspicion that everyone has an "unloveable" someone in their life.  Christianity is all about love, from the first to the last, and certainly I try to live out Christ's commands to love on a daily basis.  Loving and showing that love to my family is huge for me, and I also consider myself a pretty loyal friend to many. I smile at strangers.  I try to be kind to frenzied waitresses and store clerks.  I'm a soft touch when anyone asks me to give of my time, money, or talent.

Just don't cross me.   I'll love you as long as you are nice to me back.  Just don't betray me, speak condescendingly to me, or judge me.  Because if you do...

Every now and then, those are very real thoughts that go through my mind.  I know in my heart of hearts that I don't even come close to loving others the way Jesus wants me to.  I much prefer to know who my enemies are are keep them at arm's length.  When I'm honest I have to admit: loving my enemies is not something I'm very good at.  

But God isn't finished with me yet.  He keeps chipping and sanding and polishing  me, and for that, I am grateful.  Even for those in my life I really don't want to love, I can honestly say I want to want to.  And so He keeps working on me and in me.  And every now and then He shows me an example of what He can do in the lives of people who are fully committed to Him.

For example, I've recently been learning about a real life situation in a family at our church that is almost beyond belief.  Some years ago, a highly successful professional Christian man and his Christian school teacher wife were raising their two children when the man decided to have an affair.  The marriage blew up, and the man married the other woman. The man's reputation in the Christian community was shot.   In time, the man and his second wife had two children and were moving on in life.  Enter God.  The second wife started attending a woman's bible study at the church and became a believer.  Eventually she persuaded the man to talk to our pastor to see if they might be welcomed into our church family in spite of their wretched past.  

Grace, grace, God's grace. 
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within...
Grace, grace, God's grace.
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Our pastor was convinced the man who sat before him in his office was not the same person he knew previously.  He had been humbled and radically changed by the God who loves without exception.  The  right hand of Christian fellowship was extended. 

 But the story isn't over.  Today the man and his first wife teach a divorce recovery class at the church.  The second wife and the first wife have become good friends and are seen at Starbucks having coffee together.  Healing has come to this family, and God is glorified.  Our pastor and the man have become close friends and have written a book together which will be out in a few weeks.  

All this has got me to thinking about the "unloveable" people in my life.  Even though they are few, how can I hold back?   If God can cause those two women to love each other for the sake of the Gospel, He can surely help me to love sincerely.  I'm counting on it.  Without exception.

What about you?


Nellie's Cozy place said...

Wow Jacquelyn,
What a powerful story of redemption.
It is true.... the Lord can help us love our enemies and even better bring reconciliation. I have experienced it myself and it is a powerful thing! Almost unbelieveable still, even when it happens to you.
God is always able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ever think hope or ask.
I am counting on it too, I think it begins with that willingness you talked about.........something amazing happens when we are willing.
Bless you for this wonderful post,
and would love to know the name of the book when it comes out.
Blessings hon,

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Have also been meaning to tell you I noticed and really like your new blog face. Very pretty and I love the colors.
Have a great weekend,

Jacquelyn Stager said...

Hi Nellie, thanks for the comments. Click on the word "book" in pink and it will take you to the web page for the book. They are on sale right now...you can also read excepts that they are posting. Truly truly an amazing story that could ONLY be written by the grace of God!

Debbie said...

Wow, that is an amazing story! The power of God...to change that man's heart and bring him to repentance, AND to see the jilted wife forgive and open her heart to them. What a blessing for all the children involved; at least better than the alternative. I know too many divorced people who are still fighting and it puts the kids in the middle. I see a lot of selfishness has been sacrificed here for the sake of the Love of Christ and I'm happy to hear of a story where people really worked to accomplish that. Thanks for sharing that story!I hope the others at your church 'love' them enough to accept them wholly into the fellowship. You know how judgemental we can be!

Christy said...

And THAT is the gospel.

Dee said...

The Lord is still chipping and polishing me also and sometimes it really hurts.:-/ Your story is a grand example of love and forgiveness and how the Lord can change lives. It probably took one of them to make the first step...I would love to read the book and see how this all came about.

Aliene said...

Sounds like a tangled mess in life.
I'm glad the Lord can unravel and de-tangle and change hearts that most people would give up on. That's what forgiveness does. Blessings!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Where would I be without the grace of God? So glad the church extended the hand of fellowship to me in my time of deep need. They loved me most days in spite of me. Oh that I could extend the same amount of grace and mercy I have known!

Good to catch up with you today; I think I'll have a pajama day today... at least this morning.