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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Joy, love and peace are a byproduct of surrender, not acquisition

Joy, love and peace are a byproduct of surrender, not acquisition

Jesus gave his followers this basic commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Let’s face it, some people are difficult to love. They can be rude, obnoxious, controlling, domineering, passive-aggressive, paranoid, and invasive. They can be power-hungry, insensitive, phony, and unreliable. They can be unpleasant, unpredictable, unlikable, and unbelievable. Yet, Jesus tells us to love them anyway.

There is an important distinction between loving and liking. We may like some people more than others. We get along with people who have similar interests. Love, however, is wanting what is best for a person. We can want what is best for a person even if they annoy or aggravate us. We can still genuinely care about them even when doing so is difficult.

We must decide beforehand that we are going to be a loving person no matter what. We cannot control what others will do, but we can decide that we are going to be a loving person. We have to act instead of reacting. When we react, we are allowing that person to control us.

Jesus wants an intimate relationship with us. In John’s gospel he calls us friends and reveals the Father’s love for us. In turn, Jesus commands us to love one another unconditionally as he has loved us. Our status of friends of Jesus makes us partners in the work of bringing people to God. This is a great privilege. This is why we should be carrying a song in our hearts. This is the joy that Jesus told us the world could not give us.

What does it take to make us human beings happy? We know things will not do it. Our lives, closets, and garages are stuffed full of things that bring us only momentary pleasure. We know other people cannot make us happy, though we often expect them to do so. Happiness has to come from within a person. People can share their happiness with each other but one person cannot make another person happy.

Attaining a certain position in life will not do it. The young always think adulthood will bring ultimate satisfaction, while adults are nostalgic for the good old days of youth. We have all tried wealth, power, and fame, but these things fail to bring us happiness.

Nothing we can buy, steal, hoard, or acquire can produce this spiritual fruit. Joy is a byproduct of surrender, not acquisition. We have to empty ourselves to receive it.

Eternal life comes by way of surrendering our mortal life. This is a clear example of trading up, but not everyone is keen on making that exchange. We continue to profess the paradox that crucifixion leads to resurrection, that death leads to fullness of life, that laying down one’s life is the only way to have true happiness. Most Christians are in search of a second opinion.

God wants us to be happy. However, if Jesus is the Lord we follow, we will have a difficult time reconciling material gains with the teacher who told us to go through life living simply.

A good friend of mine sent me the following statement expressing how he strived to become a loving person.

“I accept that I am Love. I release all judgments of others and know that they are doing the best they can. I keep my life simple and follow my highest path. I stay in tune with the Highest Source within me and let it guide my ways. I am gentle and kind with myself and others.

“I pace myself with one step at a time. I know the perfect circumstances present themselves for my perfect continued growth. I am Love. I am Joy. I am Peace.”

When we love like Jesus, we can say something similar.