Loving to Salvation

The pastor I grew up with, Rev. Dr. George Mathison or Brother George as we called him, is known by a few things:
  • His dedication to prayer - He gets on his knees early every morning and prays for people. He will often call you and tell you he's praying.
  • His tennis game - One of the things he loves most now about retirement is that he doesn't have to bow-out of tournaments to go preach on Sunday mornings.
  • His dedication to love everyone, even those hard to love.

Brother George has a reputation of living out in the Christian way the old southern phase "you'll win more flies with honey." He believed that love and prayer is the foundation of pastoral ministry. The more difficult a person was, the more he loved them. I have no memory of him saying a hard word about anyone in the years I was in his church.

My 2023 Focus

I decided at the end of December that I was going to make my focus this year to love people like Brother George. It's probably the hardest thing to do, but when I think about it...it's the most Christ like thing to do.

Oddly enough, this week, I heard a sermon where another pastor spoke about my love for people in a negative way, saying
"This pastor believes...If you just love everybody, [they'll] go to heaven."
I spent a lot of time in prayer over this friends, and then it hit me (like a God smack in the face):

Faith, God told you this was the year you'd love to a Jesus level of love. Why are you offended that this other pastor finds your love offensive? Don't you believe loving a person unconditionally will get them to heaven? Didn't Jesus offend people with his love? So why are you letting people who aren't God upset you for doing what God has asked you to do?

There it is friends. God answered my prayers to release my frustration and to help me love deeper. I now have a new way to pray for this person, that they will understand the way that Jesus loved and be OK with it.

Why Tell You This?

When we tell God we're going to take steps to become more like him in ways that are offensive to the world (loving like Jesus is offensive to Satan), the world pushes back. Sometimes those pushes are done from places that should be supportive.  When we're grounded in God, we can turn back to him for support and guidance.

I won't be a perfect person of love, but I am going to take each day and work on it. When I combine that with my previous years of focusing on God's voice and guidance, I'm setting myself up for some amazing things I hope in my life and ministry.

Do you have something that's your spiritual focus? If not, start now, praying about how you can choose one thing to be what you work on. It becomes our lens of how you read scripture, how you interpret life, and how you hear from God. If you want to talk about it, come meet with me and we'll chat.

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