Full of busyness- house cleaning, laundry hanging, food making, dish washing, story sharing, trip taking… but ya know what?
I love doing hospitality!
I love meeting visiting professors and watching them give sacrificially of their time, talents, resources, gifts; I thoroughly enjoy hearing about their families and ministries back home; I am SO blessed that our children get to know these people from all over the world who love Jesus and serve Him with their lives… it is truly a JOY!
I also love our times in church or when we come together for chapel here. The way Haitian people worship is refreshing. It's beautiful. It's powerful. When they sing it FILLS the space. When they clap it ECHOES throughout the room and out to the streets. When they pack out a church service… they PACK OUT a church service!
With all that is going on here, inside my home, its easy to spend nearly an entire day inside, especially when visiting professors are here and there is SO much to do. Getting out to church on Sunday and to chapel each week is a blessing.
Being amongst God's people, broken and in need of a Savior, just like me, feels right.
Coming together to worship Him is such an important part of being a follower of Christ… with all of our faults, despite our differences, because of what HE has done and continues to do in our lives, we worship.
I love how Friday chapel is a constant for us.. not just to get out and about, to see students and to feel community, to lead worship (something both Phil and I really enjoy doing)- all of these are a HUGE blessing- but most importantly because God always meets me there. In chapel. He always gives me something that I need to hear. Something that helps me to grow. I love it.
I was recently challenged, very deeply, in chapel. Challenged by a message that Vilmer preached this past week; a message that cut right to the core of my being…
and I am not only challenged, but I am encouraged to share this message with you.
Two weeks ago, Larry Lain, a visiting professor who grew up as a missionary kid here in Haiti, spoke about how "the main thing is that the main thing remain the main thing".
Many of you may be familiar with that phrase!
So what is the main thing?
When the Pharisees asked Jesus what THE most important commandment is, He responded with two things. In short- Love God. Love people.
THE most important thing that we can do as followers of Jesus Christ is to LOVE God with all that we are, which in turn, leads us to love others.
Vilmer continued on with this, digging a bit deeper into what it means to TRULY love others. He headed straight for 1 John 4:7-21. The word love can be found 14 times in just the first 6 verses! John had quite a bit to say about love… and here, in this passage, he stresses some very important truths.
Here are a few things we can glean from the text and what I received from Vilmer's message:
If we love God, we WILL love others.
Love is the "glue" that holds together faith IN God and obedience TO God.
Righteousness has everything to do with OTHERS… we are NOT righteous if we don't love our brothers and sisters.
John uses the same Greek word "LOVE" for how God loves us and how we should love others. We are commanded to love AS HE LOVES. Unconditionally.
NOT "I love you because…" BUT "I love you EVEN THOUGH…"
So, Emily… what's the whole "bring back his donkey" title of your post, you ask?
Well, its one thing to SAY that we actually love. And its EASY to love those who love us, those who we get along with, those who are easy to love…
but the reality is, we don't have to be TOLD to love those people. We just do it.
Because its easy.
It's those people who have wronged us. cheated us. lied to us. hurt us. owe us. frustrate us…
THOSE are the people that John is talking about here.
In verses 20-21 he says, "if anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God who he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."
Hate may seem like a powerful word here, but here is the harsh reality: if we aren't really LOVING them, then we are HATING them. There is no in between. We are called to LOVE. And nothing short of that is acceptable.
In Exodus 23:4-5, God's people are commanded to show this kind of love… "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him."
THIS is LOVE. Not only loving those who love you, but showing love to those who, not just don't like you, but hate you! Seeing past one another's faults, beyond our hurts, despite the pain… and simply LOVE.
Our own needs aside. Against everything the world tells us to do. Sacrificial. LOVE.
How did God show us LOVE?
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
And through that sacrifice, we can live through Him. We CAN love through Him.
In fact, we are REQUIRED to love because of God's love.
How? How do we do this?
There is more to glean from John's text...
"...He has given us His Spirit."
If we are truly followers of Christ, He abides IN us. His Spirit enables us. THAT is how we love.
I don't know about you, but I want to live THIS kind of love.
I want to live the kind of love that causes me to bring back that donkey.
To go out of my way to show love to people, even people who have hurt me.
No matter what.
Can I do it on my own?
But I'm SO incredibly thankful that He doesn't ask me to.
Whose donkey might He be asking you to bring back?