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Lord make it easy – make people loveable!

May 9, 2015

I remember the first time that I headed off into the wilderness on my own. I was a scout at the time. I remember my leader driving me off into a remote part of the North York Moors. I was dropped off in the middle of the moors and I had two days walking to get back to camp. I had been looking forward to the challenge but once that Landrover drove away it was scary. Suddenly I was really on my own. No adults, no houses just my rucksack, map and compass and a footpath heading off across the moors. It was scary, but it would have been far scarier and riskier if I hadn’t had plenty of time to prepare; to get my mind and my kit ready; not to mention the guidance and advice of my leader.

Reading John 15.9-17 I hear Jesus to helping to prepare his disciples for the time when they will be on their own. He will soon leave them and Jesus wants them to be ready.

Now jumping forward two thousand years again, and I am here without Jesus to sit down with and talk to. I can’t even just phone Him up to ask a question! So, what does Jesus say to get me ready? Well, firstly that I am Jesus’ friends. Yes, he is the almighty Lord, but he has decided to call me his friend. Why? Because I follow his commandments, or at least I am committed to doing all I can to follow his commandments. And what are these commandments, well one commandment really – love. Like all Christians I am to love my neighbour as myself. I are to love God, the Father, I am to love Jesus who brought hope and I am to love the Holy Spirit who links me always to the Holy Trinity.

What could be easier than that, all I have to do is love. All I have to do is love – How I wish that it was that simple!

If Jesus wanted me to love my neighbour so much, why didn’t he ask his Father to make sure that my neighbour was always loveable! Why couldn’t God make it easy, or at least a little easier? But no, He makes my neighbour irritating, or greedy or grumpy or worse. It seems at times that what God really wants is for me to fail. But then I suspect I’m no better as a neighbour. I bet others find me irritating or grumpy, or greedy or worse. If they are Christians, I imagine them turning to God in prayer and asking why him? Couldn’t you give me someone easier to love? Lord make it easy – make people loveable!

The one thing that reassures me is that I may not be very good at loving, but God is. He is love. The Trinity is love in action, Father loving Son loving the Spirit loving… and so on. And that love goes out from God to all creation, to all people, and even to me! I may fail to love God, I may fail to love my neighbour, but God never fails to love me. It’s a very humbling thought, and if you’re like me, a very comforting truth.

But I don’t have to fail all of the time. When Jesus physically left this world, the Father sent the Spirit, to teach his people how to love. The Spirit does far more, but I will have plenty of time to explore that during Pentecost. But, for now at least, I’ll celebrate that fact that Jesus can guide me, and all his friends, in the way of love; just as he guided this friends when he was standing on this earth.

There is so much that is confusing about the life of faith. What should I do about the problems in the world? I don’t know the specifics but I do know that if I try to do the most loving thing possible I can be sure that I’m doing the Godly thing.

Then I come to all the difficult doctrinal matters. Again, we, as brothers and sisters can disagree, we can even argue, but in the end we are to love one another. It is right that we should seek to find the Truth and argue together to find what the Truth may look like today. But I must never think of the other person as my enemy to be defeated. They are my brother or sister, to be listened to, to perhaps disagree with, but always to love and care for.

Disagreement isn’t evil, but hatred and division is. I have seen so much caricaturing of those on both sides of the debate about women priests and women bishops, about abortion and a women’s right to chose, about evangelical and catholic, or …. well the list could go on almost for ever. I have views on all of those things and some of you will agree with me and some of you will not. Some of you I know have strong feelings on those matters, as do I. But if I stop loving all of my brothers and sisters, each and every one of them, I have stopped loving God. How can I say that I love the God that I cannot see when I fail to love my neighbour that I can see, and hurt.

I pray that this simple truth will effect every debate in every synod. Every word and every action of any Christian, anywhere.

I have experienced much love here in this little corner of England. I pray that that love may continue to grow. I pray that here where I live and everywhere, we can love each other through our grumps, our failings, the things that irritate. I join my prayer with that of Jesus: I pray for the Holy Spirit to so fill each of us, that love will grow in our hearts, and that love will flow out naturally to every one that we meet.

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