Be excellent to each other 

Ephesians 4:32

It is 1989. Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston have some pressure. They are in school and must pass history class. But they are the epitome of slackers without a clue. In comes Rufus played by George Carlin. The plot is not really that important right now, but there was one really important scene toward the end that never left me. The boys found themselves faced with a future world where world peace had been achieved through the power of music and they discovered that there is one defining statement they make to their future selves: Be excellent to each other. 

This notion is not new nor is it novel. But it is increasingly rare. Many of us spend a great deal of time finding ways to serve ourselves. Not because we set out to, but because we simply think of self before others.  It could be because that is how we were trained when young and that is reinforced as we age. But Paul says very clearly to the church of Ephesus that we are to be excellent to each other. In fact he writes to be kind toward one another, which to me is no different. But what is kindness? Someone once said that kindness is the byproduct of Gods love. One cannot be loving without expressing kindness. 

I believe that Paul is asking us to let go of the very thing that felled pharaoh; a hardened heart. But there’s more. Paul also says to forgive one another. Forgiveness is necessary for us to move forward after some great pain has occurred in our life. It’s purpose is to allow us to be freed from the past. 

Why do all of this? Because we have a requirement as Christians to respond to the love of Jesus with love. It is a natural thing to respond with love when we are shown love. Likewise the expression of kindness is nothing short of being excellent to one another. 

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God is more than love

Romans 15:13

God is love. Love is God. Where there is love there too is God. 

This is a truth I embrace and know to be true in my heart of hearts.  But I’d love all that God is? 

The first thing I must understand is that my limited understanding of love is just that. Limited. God is limitless. So too is what God is. My comprehension of that which created all that I’ve ever known and all that any sentient being that ever realized something beyond itself knew, is depressingly limited. I cannot perceive much at all that God truly is. So how can I say that God is in essence love and love alone? 

Aparantly Paul saw this too in his letters. 

In this passage I see Paul writing that God is not just love, but is the source of hope. Love is kind and patient and long suffering. That I know. But love is hope? What could love hope for? Certainly not itself because the Word says love is not self seeking. The passage continues:

Love is hope and is on a mission to fill us with joy and peace. But it doesn’t happen automatically. It happens by believing. Belief is a powerful thing. For example, I believe that if I go outside now, I will be cold because it is winter. I believe that if I go to a website and click “buy now”, in a few days, something will be delivered to my home. I believe that if I touch my beloved one, I will feel human warmth and tenderness returned to me. Why? Because love is a natural response to love expressed. I love God because he first loved me. Not because I deserved it. But because I am His and a good father cannot help but love his own. 

But what can all of this possibly do for us, the children of God? To what end will this joy and peace bring me? I see this verse saying to the reader that they are feeling hopeless. Perhaps forgotten and unloved. Their days are troubled and their nights are without joy. But joy comes in the morning and Paul is saying that if we just believe in God and his love, we will not just feel better. See a dawn after the dark. Be given peace. Much more than that we will be able to hope and hope abundantly. In a time where daily I hear disheartening news on my radio and in my daily walk, I could use a bit more joy. A bit more love. 

A bit more hope. That is God. Hope in a hopeless situation.