Saturday, February 25, 2012

Our Best and Greatest Love

Love is the greatest power, the most powerful force that ever exists.  It drives our lives, it motivates our actions, it stimulates our passion, it shapes our thoughts, it molds our thinking, it directs our behavior, it justifies our reactions.  Love determines our sacrifices, it sustains our endurance, it sharpens our choices, it dictates outcomes, it maximizes our care, it conceives our plans, it enhances our planning.  Love always seeks to please, to protect, to defend, to nurture, to care, to court, to charm, to dream, to beautify, to attract, to preserve, to persevere, to cover, to educate, to uplift, to promote, to respect, to liberate, to elevate, to build up, to repair, to pull up, to push up, to publicize, to market, to exhibit, to advertise, to talk about, to exalt, to valorize, to brag about, to display, to show off.

The dictionary defines “Love” (noun) as “a strong positive emotion of regard; any object of warm affection or devotion; a beloved person; used as terms of endearment.  “To Love” (verb) is to have a great affection and liking for, to get pleasure from, to be enamored or in love with; …

The Bible (New International Version / NIV),  in 1 Corinthians13:4-7, lists some attributes and virtues of Love: “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.”

The best example and the greatest lesson of Love is given to us by God the Father Himself who, out of His unthinkable kind of Love for the world (the human race) (John 3:16), sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to die in order to save us and to redeem us from eternal damnation.  His evident gesture of Love through the death of His Son has therefore eliminated His intended wrath against us in terms of His anger towards us after the first man, Adam, disobeyed Him and sinned against Him in the Garden of Eden.  His Great-Creator’s Love for us has compelled Him to offer His own Son as the utmost sacrifice to save us all from the consequences of the original sin (Genesis3/Whole Chapter).

We truly thank God for His unique compassion and for His unmatchable mercy.  Otherwise, none of us would ever escape or dream to make it to Heaven. It is written in 1 Peter 1:3:  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  And this is the greatest lesson of Love for us to study, to meditate upon, to learn from, and to practice on all occasions, at all times and towards all.

The topic of Love is the widest and the vastest subject that would take volumes upon volumes to develop.  For the purpose of this blog, we will focus, concentrate and remain within the context of what Jesus taught in Mark 12:30-31 that states: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”

To Love God is to obey Him, to respect Him, to revere Him, to veneer Him, to care for His people (our fellow humans).  To Love God is to do His will, to follow His instructions and to obey His commands.  In John 21:15, 16, Jesus instructed Peter saying (1) “Feed my lambs” and (2) “Take care of my sheep.”  In John 21:17, Jesus repeatedly asked Peter “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” 

To Love God is to diligently seek Him, to crave for and to create intimacy with Him, to be attentive to His voice, to be and to live in perfect synergy with Him through yielding to the Holy Spirit.  To Love God is to continuously watch ourselves not to anger Him, or to displease Him, or to offend Him, or to disrespect Him.  To Love God is to do our best to please Him with all our might.  As a result of our seriousness about loving Him, our lives become peaceful, productive, powerful, meaningful, prosperous and very successful.  We are then able to hear from Him, to walk and to behave in accordance with His expectations of us. We are mindful and we strive to avoid making mistakes although they are an integral part of living.  We initiate breakthroughs with God in mind. Great creations and great innovations come out of us because we are obedient, because we can hear from Him and follow through, and because He can trust us to carry out His plans for His world.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:9: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” - the things God has prepared for those who Love Him.”  To Love God is to worship Him, and Him AloneJohn 4:23 says:  “Yet a time is coming and has come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”  God is the Only One who is worthy of our worship and who deserves all our praise.  He is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. We have been created to praise Him, to worship Him, to veneer Him, to serve Him.

To Love our neighbor is to care for the well-being, for the strong standing, for the welfare and for the good living of others.  We are happy for their progress, their advancement, their achievement, their accomplishment, their success.  We contribute joyfully to their happiness and to their advancement as much as we can.  We avoid at all costs harming them, and we do whatever it takes to protect them.  As a specific example that is generic and innate to their very nature, their commitment, their determination and their responsibility, a Firefighter would do and risk anything to rescue and to save a single life from a burning flame. And this is the kind of eloquent example among others that take place every day, that we take “routinely” for granted, and yet, this is exactly what God means when He says to “Love your neighbor like yourself”.  The Firefighter is a Professional who is educated and trained to perform and to fulfill their duty that is deeply rooted in altruism.  However, their mindset of willingness, of single-mindedness, of high personal (and work) ethics, of dedication, and of great sacrifice is what we have to learn from, to practice, to emulate and to apply towards our neighbor.  A great biblical example of one's love for a neighbor is found in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37.

Our Love for our neighbor compels us to continuously strive to reach out to others and is the reason for our previous blog entitled: “Pioneer, Hang In There! Our Reaching-Out Endeavor.”

To Love ourselves is, first and foremost, to establish and to maintain a strong connection and a strong bond with God.  God must become the center of our lives, our life sustainer, our life support, our main source of wisdom and guidance, our primary source of education, our Leader, our Lord, our King, our first confidant, our omniscient partner, our shelter and our safety nest in the storms, our shield in the midst of danger, our cane or our crutch to lean on, our Advocate with our Father in Heaven, and our Protector against the Evil one.  My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sinBut if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One”. (1 John 2:1).

To Love ourselves is to know ourselves, to take the time to examine, to assess ourselves, to have the courage to fix our own “detected” flaws, to tackle our weaknesses, to acknowledge, to address and to resolve our mistakes, to deal honestly with our issues instead of pretending, playing make-believe or sugarcoating, to apologize on due times and to set an example for others, to make peace with ourselves, to forgive ourselves, to rid ourselves of guilt and to be at peace within ourselves.

To Love ourselves is to treat ourselves very preciously, to make time for ourselves, to take time off with ourselves, to care for our health, to dream and to take the practical steps to make those dreams come true, to be mindful and determined about our present, to be serious and decisive about our future.

To Love ourselves is to have and to cultivate a High Self-Esteem, to create our joy and our “own version” of personal happiness.  To Love ourselves is to know and to convince ourselves that we are The BEST, that we have The BEST, that we want The BEST, that we deserve The BEST, that we offer and give The BEST, and that we would do Our Very BEST to make and to cause The BEST to come into and to happen in our lives.  To Love ourselves is to decide not to settle for the “readily convenient” and the “easily available” that might end up in unpleasant results, in displeasing outcome and in regrettable consequences.  Instead, we choose, we adopt, we select and we embrace The BEST, the essential, the uplifting, the compatible and the suitable.  Since we are Very Precious and Very Special, we set our dream(s) and our goal(s) very high, and we do Our BEST to achieve them, to make them happened and become a reality.  The LORD always reserves and always gives His BEST to us, His beloved people.  In return, we preserve ourselves “sacrificially” to please Him because He deserves our pure, our wholehearted and our absolute BEST.

To Love ourselves is to think BIG, to dream BIG and BEAUTIFUL, and to know that, in all and after all, the sky is the limit.  God is Our BIG CREATOR and Our BIG FATHER.  We are His Beloved Sons and His Beloved Daughters.  Therefore, it is simply normal to think BIG and to dream BIG like Our FATHER in Heaven.  Those with a little mind and those of “little faith” (Matthew 17:20/Full Context, Verses 14-20) might call it “megalomania meaning, “a psychological state characterized by delusions of grandeur”.  However, by looking all around us and beyond, we can realize that everything that we are using on a daily basis, i.e., car, bus, truck, train, subway, airplane, ship, telephone, radio, television, fridge, stove, elevator, computer, laptop, cellular phone, internet, and other great products and great achievements, have all been invented, created and attained by people who have a great vision, a great passion, a great self-confidence and a strong faith to try hard, to work hard, and to think BIG.  Therefore, we are not going to remain passive, or to justify our inactivity and our limitations, or to stay on the sideline like spectators filled with self-imposed impotence, or like quitters deprived of firm willingness and persistence.  That is why we have made up our mind, and we are determined "to renew our mind" (Romans 12:2), to emulate and to join willfully (and "passionately") the ranks of the Great Minds, of the Big Thinkers, of the Great Builders and of the Great Achievers.  Jabez cried out to the God of Israel and asked Him “Enlarge my territory! …”  And God granted his request. (1 Chronicles 4:9,10).  By faith, all things are possible when we Love ourselves, when we trust God, when we believe and Love God, and when we are willing to act constructively and ready to move forward.

Although I do not have too many of them “yet”,  I Love electronic gadgets/tools for their usefulness, their convenient practicality, the inventive concept behind the innovation, and for my own experiment, exploration and comparison purposes (that is the quality assurance part of me).  Now, God has blessed me, has satisfied my Love for computers and for those gadgets/tools, and has given me the ability and the opportunity to write blogs about Him, which are also optimized for and readable on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets).  Therefore, I am surely happy to see the result of my obedience to Him, to achieve and to fulfill that great dream, and to reach that great “encompassing” goal.  In this very specific case, the dream was "to share the Love of Jesus Christ with others, and to spread that Great Love to as many people as possible"; the goal was "to take the effective steps to make it happened".  Our "Many Thanks" go to Google™: they have created and provided for free "the ideal platform" to combine the dream and the goal, and to tie them altogether.  Again, may God richly bless Google

I Love to listen to great music and I Love to play music. I also Love music videos and big theater movies that are the fabulous combination of big screen film coupled with majestic and immersive sound.  My very first job in life, in my very younger age, was at a select and very classy theater where I have seen a lot of great Jazz, musical, classical/ballet performances.  I have also seen a lot of great movies in my life. Now to have my own YouTube™ Channel where everything is combined and encapsulated into one media center as my hobby and my favorite pastime, and also where the sky is the limit of the possibilities, makes me very happy.

In other words, as we stay closer to God, Jesus Christ, He gives us ideas about what to do and where to go.  In return, we faithfully obey Him, we follow His instructions that are very “specific to ourselves personally and individually”.  We then design, tailor and "Create Our World" based on our personal dreams, and based on what God has deposited inside of us for our Joy, for our Happiness, for our own Success, and as per His Divine Plan to prosper us "individually" (Jeremiah 29:11) for His Divine Glory.  And this is just one example (or one story) out of many others that are kept wrapped up and untold.

To Love ourselves is to develop self-confidence, to study, to push the barriers of our identified limitations as far as possible, to educate ourselves as much as possible, not only to have an institutional and academic education as our profession and as our trade, but also to be knowledgeable in the things of God.  Therefore, we must study, make the time to read our Bible, and do research about the Word of God.  We must take the time to ponder and to meditate on what we read, on what we study, on what we discover, on what has been revealed to us, and on what God means to us.  We must appreciate the value and we must treasure the necessity and the fact of having God in our lives so that we may know by faith that we have a strong anchor when challenges, trials, storms and testing come upon our lives. 

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17).  The faith that we develop when we Love God, when we study the Word of God, when we read insightfully the Word of God (the Bible), and when we are connected to God, will carry us through those unwanted moments and will make us victors and not victims, conquerors and not oppressed, champions and not losers, achievers and not victimized, the head and not the tail, rich and not poor, the top and not the bottom, resourceful and not dependent.  Because of our faith in God, the fruit of our hands shall be life, our products and our produce shall be plentiful and ready to be harvested at all times. We are then able and ready to share, to give, to help others in short-term need, to alleviate the burdens of others, to guide and to equip others for long-term self-sustainability. 

When we Love ourselves that much and apply the same wealth, the same depth, the same size, the same magnitude, the same passion of our Love of ourselves towards loving others (“Love your neighbor as yourself”), God will be very pleased and very happy with us, and His dreams and His plans for humanity through us, being His chosen ones, His hands extended, His equipped ones, His trusted ones and His empowered ones, will then be fulfilled.

On a flipped side and on a careful note, we must be aware that this Love for ourselves is not a “Narcissistic Love of ourselves”, meaning self-admiration, self-adoration, or even self-idolatry.  Narcissus, in the Greek Mythology, was that man renowned for his great beauty who fell in love with his own image that he admired when he discovered and saw the refection of his own face in the waters of a pool.  He did not realize that the image that he saw was the reflection of his own face.

To Love ourselves is to have a realistic and a practical type of Love for ourselves where we do what it takes to assure self-dependency, auto-sufficiency, self-sustainability, “amphibian, all-terrain and all-weather” type of living where we are equipped, ready to live, to face challenges and to survive under all life conditions, either good or adverse.  Because of the self-empowerment that comes from being educated, equipped, a go-getter, and from having an entrepreneurial spirit and a propulsive determination, we are able and capable to "bounce back higher" by faith and with confidence regardless of our setbacks.

As we Love ourselves so much, and after we Love ourselves that much, will we "then" be able to manifest our altruistic love and our philanthropic kindness "unselfishly" towards others, and towards those in need of our help.  Our hearts will be compelled to answer the call and to respond to the cry of the destitute and the desperate ones.  We will not turn our heads the other way, nor will we plug our ears, direct our eyes on the opposite side to avoid seeing, taking, accepting and acting on our responsibilities, and to default from doing our part and from offering our share of help.

Out of Love, great affection and compassion for others, I, the writer of this blog, also had the honor of going to India after the Tsunami, to South Africa and to Jamaica with a dynamic team led by our Senior Pastor.  Life as a Missionary (either full-time, or part-time, or seasonal), and as a Caring Helper, is absolutely a very rewarding experience.  After the catastrophic flood of Gonaïves, in Haïti, I had the privilege and the opportunity to send a large shipment of goods and items to help those in need.   After the last earthquake, I have also contributed financially. Special Thanks go to my nucleus of friends and to my very close supporters who have also contributed.  As a serious worker and as an active seeker, I am looking forward to offer more help and contribution in the near future.  This is not bragging or making publicity for oneself. This is giving a succinct account, a brief highlight, and proving that, to the best of our abilities and regardless of our “limited” capabilities, we are practicing what we are talking about.

We thank God for His matchless Love for us.  We thank God for teaching us, for training us and for showing us examples about how to Love. We are a work in progress and we hope someday to fully meet all the requirements as per God’s standards and expectations.  Until then, we are seriously learning and practicing as we go.  Our goal is to hit the mark as we pursue our desire to Love God, to Love others and to Love ourselves more and more daily.   
_______________________________________________________________
Special Notes:
  1. This blog is also optimized for smartphone and for mobile device reading format and convenience.  Thanks to Blogger.
  2. A beautiful song entitled “I Love The Lord” by the 7-year-old Gospel singer Rhema Marvanne may be found on her YouTube™ Channel. (Reference used with Granted Permission).
  3. The YouVersion Bible App for mobile device is downloadable for free at: www.youversion.com.  (This is our voluntary publicity to say "Thank You" for the  free Bible App.)
  4. “We are Going Boldly into the www (world wide web) and into the world in accordance with GOD’s LOVE for the World.” Joseph Dubois.

3 comments: