Summary: The love we sow is the love we will reap. One of the marks of the church is the love which members show to one another, We are called to love one another as Christ loves us, and Paul speaks to this in his letter to the church at Galatia.
As Christians, we are called- even commanded- to love one another as Christ loves us. This is a daunting task, but it is also the seed we must sow. The good news is that we can do it- if we become new creations in Christ, we can show His love to others in meaningful and concrete ways. This morning, my goal is simply to speak to you as if Paul was speaking to you. Our time is limited today, so with your indulgence, I will deliver Paul's words in Gal. 6:1-10 in my own words,
Brothers and sisters… in Christ. Brother Murray, sister Kelly, if someone here is stumbles and gets caught in sin, restore that person gently. Brothers and sisters (what a strange way for a member of our church to speak), if you see someone who is broken- someone, let us say, who has fallen and broken a heart… or an arm, go to him, or her, and ever so gently, reset the arm, like a skilled surgeon, reassuring him all along. Restore the person… because that’s what family members do. In this world, brothers, there are nitpickers and drop-givers. If someone spills something at a banquet table, or falls coming down the wedding aisle, there are people who will cry out, “Hey, don’t give that man another drink,” or “Ever walked before?”, and there are those who will run over to help, saying, “I know how you feel, I’ve done that myself,” or “Here, take my hand and I will lift you up.” Be one of those in the latter group. Be an empathetic restorer. Be Christ-like.
Bear one another’s burdens. No one is an island. We are hopelessly and completely intertwined in Christ. So, care for your brothers and sisters, put yourself in their place, feel their pain and anxiety, lift their burden, and give them as much slack (as many excuses), as you give yourself. Competition is not spiritually healthy, but if you want to win something, be first at giving others love, be first in burden carrying, and even then, beware of pride. Listen because this is important- comparing yourself to others is a spiritual disease… that will lead you into pride, on the one hand, or a feeling of unworthiness, on the other, and either one of these emotional places will break your connectedness with others. Never assess your faithfulness by measuring yourself against the Jones’ but rather by this simple question: have I loved others as Christ has loved me? Have I prayed for, visited, invited, supported, and listened to ALL of those whom I could have? Have I fulfilled the law of Christ in this way?
O friends, today is the day to fulfill the law of Christ by loving one another. This moment is our moment of opportunity. Now is the only moment we will ever have. So, let’s begin to see others- all of those who are part of our Christian family- through the rose-colored glasses of Christ’s love. Let’s empathize with them, let’s give them a measure of understanding and tolerance, let’s be their cheerleaders and not their critics. Let’s- each one of us- make a list of people we can affirm, mend, help in concrete ways, pray for, and walk with… and engage in the holy business of actually doing these things! The Arduser’s need prayers- yes, brother Jeff and sister Kelly- and maybe a friend… who will bring a meal over, or mow their yard, or get something from the store. Rosalie Cliff needs our prayers, and her daughter, Carol Kramer, needs our prayers. and there are many others who need our prayers, including but not limited to- Dan and Annie (our youth leaders), Jens (our new Music Director), our ruling elders, our youth, those whom you pay to serve you, Gary Hendren, Ron Bawmann, Ruth Bennett, Betty Berg, Joe Bishop, Joanna Brooks, Bob Brown, Leah Danielson, Diane Each, Bud Graham, John Henneman, Stacey Hoover, Donna Pratt, Don Sale, Marilyn Terry, Mary Jo Wagner. There are many, many people- widows, new members, and visitors- who could be invited to any of our Dinner Bell meals- and other activities. There are so many others who could be visited, and not only those who are hospitalized or in nursing centers, but those whom we would like to know better, and those who are simply at home cooking out.
Brothers and sisters, let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that God will bless a lukewarm church, or that Christ didn’t mean it when he said that we MUST love another. Brothers and sisters, let’s not fool ourselves into believing that it doesn’t matter what we sow. It does matter because we will reap what we sow. A gathering of strangers may come to believe that they are a community. They may deceive themselves. They may even deceive others, but the word of God is clear: as we have the opportunity, let us DO good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:10) Amen.