Summary: Love and learning to love are the most important activities. The church is the special God-given place to learn.
What Matters Most
Purpose Driven Life #16
November 29, 2003
Life is made up of many activities and many things we can focus on. However, there is one focus, which is the one, and only and most important focus, from God’s point-of-view. Paul said it best, as he declared in:
Ga.5.14. Love and learning to love is the most important activity of life. When we consider that ‘God is love’, it is no surprise that this is something he wants us to focus on. On the other hand, because we have a spiritual enemy who wants to rob us of what God has for us and wants to interrupt God’s plan and purpose in our lives, it’s no surprise that loving is difficult for us. It’s no surprise that we have so many distractions and other ideas about what is important. However, for us, it is back to the Bible- it is to the scriptures- and it is from them that we’ll draw our instruction about how to set up our lives. Learning to love, as God loves, is not easy. In fact, it’s hard for all of us and more difficult for some than others, due to gender, as well as due to unloving events in our pasts that hinder our openness to what God wants of us.
While we’re looking at what Paul teaches us, we need to consider what he says in:
Ga.6.10- not only do we have our families and ‘loved ones’ for loving, but God gives us a special place to learn how to love, too. He puts us, with his calling, into a church community, filled with irritating, imperfect, frustrating people, and tells us that we’re to give special attention to these people. This is our ‘workshop’ environment. I don’t know how many of you have ever been to workshops, but in them you have a leader who is teaching about something. Then, he or she gets you to get into groups and you have to practice what is being taught. You might have to practice counseling skills, as I did in one course I took at Liberty University in Virginia a few years back. You might have to practice listening-skills or other communication skills, as those participating in the Empowering Couples seminars in Montreal have had to do. Well, here is where we get to practice our love skills. These are the people God has given us to be around and these are the people God has given us to love.
This is actually a very important beginning point. We must look around ourselves and recognize that those who are here are precisely who God wants to be here and these are the people God has decided that we get to learn to love. It’s not easy. We know each other relatively well. We know the strengths and weaknesses, and might focus, most easily, on the weaknesses or points of irritation. However, we’re not meant to go running from here in irritation and anger, but are to learn to love these men, women, and children in a very special way. We are God’s assignment to you! You are God’s assignment to me! Let us not forget the divine, the holy, and the presence of God in the midst of this congregation! It can be a little ‘scary’ in a way, but this is a reality not to be forgotten. This is God’s congregation. It’s not mine. It’s not yours. It’s not the Council’s. It’s God’s and everything that happens here is part of God’s curriculum in spiritual development for us. Keep this perspective and you’ll do a lot better than if you allow humanity to rise up and overtake you. God wants you to be in regular and close fellowship with these believers, first of all, and with other believers, as you have opportunities.
God wants us to learn three vital lessons about love here.
1. The best use of life is love. Love is the most important part of your life. It’s not just some small part- it is the main part.
1 Cor.14.1a- relationships are to have a priority in your life that tops all other priorities. Do they? Or are relationships only one of your priorities? If relationships and building those relationships, in your family and here, are not top, I challenge you to change, now! Christianity is not about just hearing some nice things. It’s about changing more and more into the way God is and wants each of us to be. How are relationships placed in your life? This is harder for some, I know. If you’re a man, it’s harder. We do very well at ‘parallel play’ and at being around other people, but not being ‘with’ other people. The greatest complaint from wives about husbands is that they are not ‘with’ them. They might be physically nearby. They might be at home in an evening. But they are not ‘with’ them. Men, we must confront this and fight this. We must repent of this and we must change. There’s NO option.