Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Building up the Church: Loving Well.

Loving Well: Even If You Haven't Been    When you read the Bible and look at the world God made, you notice that He designed Life itself to require loving  relationships. Baby animals need Mama to feed them and nurture them. Plants need wise gardeners to tend and cultivate them. People need family and friends whose care reflects the ultimate Life-Sustaining Love of God.
    The metaphors God chose to describe our Christian life show us this in bold colors. Every metaphor is about a loving relationship. Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches and God is the husbandman who lovingly tends us.
We are the straying sheep, Jesus is our leading, protecting Shepherd.
We are the children adopted into our Great and Glorious Father's Heart!

     Jesus tells us that following Him is about Loving Well. First, loving God with all our hearts, souls, strength, and mind and then loving our neighbor as ourselves. We are now redeemed by God who is Love, we are commanded to Love, and we are told that we as God's Family are to be rooted and established in Love.

     Now, most of us will ask "How?" How do we love others well, to build up the body of Christ? How to we fallen, redeemed people welcome and nurture and tend and strengthen and help the other fallen, redeemed people around us? What can we do *Now* to love them? And how do we work towards loving people well?

William Smith's book LOVING WELL needs to be on the Required Reading List for Christians. Loving people well is a possibility for every redeemed person, but it is by no means common. Things we can do to let people know they are loved are often simple, but rarely easy. Love is sacrifice, at its heart.

     "I find it helpful to think of Love as a large jewel with many facets," William Smith begins, "Each facet gives you a glimpse into the jewels essence because each facet is part of the same jewel. But every viewpoint has a sparkle all its own." This book has fifteen chapters, one for each facet of the jewel of Love. Some of these facets seem surprising, and I thought "I knew that!" Then I remembered..."Yes, I know this, but I don't put it into practice." As one wise person said, reminder is needed more often than revelation.

    One of the most surprising chapters for me might have been the one on Greeting Love. Yes, Greeting. God is the God who ran down the road to *greet* his returning Prodigal.  He hugged him and wept over him and restored him as a cherished son. If the greeting had been any other way, the returning son would not have known he was forgiven and accepted home. God is a God of Loving Greetings- as His people, we must be too. Yet how many times has someone come home and found me in the middle of something (something that was not very important) and I have not given them more than acknowledgement "Another person had entered the room."
 I am called to begin loving people the moment they walk in! Greet them as a person, a special person whom you are glad to have home!

   Two of the most powerful portions of this book might have been "Comforting Love: Running to those who are Suffering" and "Sympathetic Love: Taking on Each other's Sorrows." These chapters answer the question: When we are trying to love someone who is sorrowing, what do we say that won't be wrong? Do we have to speak? Do we have to give wise, profound advice?
Answer: We just need to be there with them. Perhaps quietly. An arm around their shoulder. A listening ear. Love them. Love them well. And read this book to remind you how.

There is much conviction, reminder, and practical application in this book.
I am blessed by this book. I received it from New Growth Publishing to review.

You may buy a copy of this book here. 

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