Summary: To respond in love, even when being treated unfairly
Of Soldier and Shoulder
Ouch! My Dad developed a frozen shoulder condition and boy we took him from one hospital to another with no avail, till the “Magnet therapy” did the trick. In this sermon, I intend to touch upon a particular type of “shoulder problem” and the “therapy” related to it.
While, I have not endured the pain of a frozen shoulder, I have experienced the pain of yet another “shoulder problem”…getting cold-shouldered!!! While a Dictionary may define the phrase Cold –shoulder as “pay no attention to”, it cannot adequately describe the pain involved of the person at the receiving end of it all. The Saviour Himself was not exempt to this pain inflicted on Him by the spiritually “cold” Israel during His Earthly sojourn. Scripture puts it aptly “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” – John 1:11. We who follow Him are bound taste the same bitter pill of rejection, now and then, when we stand up for all that is God-honoring and true. What then ought to be our response to all those who cold-shoulder us? Do we snap ties or show Christ-like persistent love? The answer ought to be obvious to all who take pride in their relationship with the loving Redeemer. While on the subject of being coldly brushed aside, as His Chosen lot, we ought to be doubly careful that we are being contemptuously dismissed for having been LOVING AND TRUTHFUL and not for wrong reasons. In this context, observes Apostle Peter wisely…”Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you”-I Peter 2:20
Ah to be loving despite being unloved at all times! What is about Love (guaranteed to break nine times out of ten even cold, stony hearts) that is so sublime? Let the Scripture answer. “God is love” –John 4:8. So when we put on love (Colossians 3:14), we are donning the “most irresistible attire” one has ever worn (is anything more beautiful than the Creator?)
Vis-à-vis other great virtues like faith and hope Apostle Paul puts love at a higher pedestal. Hey, how is that love towers above even faith, without which we cannot please God (Heb 11:6) and hope that sustains a Christian (2 Thess 2:16-17). The one and only reason is that LOVE IS THE ETERNAL BINDING FACTOR which keeps the Creator and His most prized creation…man… together for eternity. After passing away from this World or at rapture of the Church (if we are alive at that time), once we see the Lover of our souls with our own eyes where is the need for faith or hope to sustain the Divine-human relationship? Whereas love is required to keep that relationship going throughout eternity. Sadly is not the cosmic history witness to the fact that Mr devil despite seeing God and being in His presence for ages fell away due to lack of love for the Creator?
Whilst on the subject of love, using the word LOVE as an acronym I intend to dwell on the first two letters vis-à-vis God-Man relationship (Love God is the first of the two commandments given by the Saviour-Mark 12:29-31) and the other two covering inter-personal relationship amongst fellowmen (Love your fellowmen is the other).
L-oyalty: You truly love your Creator? Then you would be loyal to Him unto death being ever-willing to make even the supreme sacrifice of laying your life at the altar of martyrdom. Oh how many countless souls have and will give their all for the ONE who has given His all (even the last drop of blood-John 19:33-34) to them (Rev 7:9-14).
O-bedience: Father Abraham had to decide whether, he loved his beloved Issac (what a wondrous gift to aged parents) or the Giver of the gift, when it came to heeding the words of Master. Away went the grey father towards Mount Moriah in obedience to the Almighty’s instructions to sacrifice his precious offspring (without even telling his wife prone to hysterical reaction). Who is not moved, when the picture of an old father emerges in the mind’s eye climbing Mount Moriah with his son in tow? His heart pounding, creaky limbs shaking, mind filled with legitimate doubts about God’s goodness BUT DETERMINED TO OBEY, on the Mount of Sacrifice, Father Abraham virtually touched the summit of love for the Creator, when he lifted up the gleaming blade to plunge it into his own flesh and blood, only to be Divinely-stopped in the nick of time. And the Almighty’s response to this selfless act of obedience which did not mind giving up the most prized treasure? Father Abraham would now have “spiritual” descendents as many as stars in the skies and sand in the sea shore (Genesis 22:1-18).