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Sunday, September 22, 2019

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The power of love can heal, build up, restore and give life

The power of love can heal, build up, restore and give life

Years ago, a third grader named Mary received a letter from another girl who hated her, although Mary had no idea why this girl hated her.

The letter read:

‘“Awful Mary”, not Dear Mary, just awful Mary,

You’re the stinkiest girl in this world. I hope you die, but, of course, I know that’s impossible. I have some ideas: 1. Play in the road. 2. Cut your throat. 3. Drink poison. 4. Get drunk. 5. Knife yourself.

Please do some of this, you big, fat girl. I’m praying, “Lord, oh, please let Mary die. We’re in need of fresh air.”’

When she was 14, Mary committed suicide. In her personal box where she kept things, they found this letter and a Bible she had received in 5th grade. Words of death and words of love, side by side. The Bible had not been opened.

Perhaps what she needed were not so much the written words of Jesus Christ telling us that we are to love one another as he loved us, what she needed was the Living Word of God in another person’s life. The Word made flesh in another’s life can heal, build up, restore and give life.

Most of us don’t spend day after day hating people like this little girl. We just refrain from loving as Christ loves us.

Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

No one can make us love someone, especially someone ugly or unattractive. Most of us experience love as a feeling, a reaction to beauty, or someone loving us. It is something that happens to us. If we see unattractiveness or sense rejection, we feel repulsion, not love.

However, Jesus is not commanding us to feel love. He is commanding us to act in a loving way.

In Luke’s gospel, we see a short little man who was crooked in all his dealings by the name of Zaccheus. This man was not attractive. Jesus didn’t even react to Zaccheus’ stature or reputation. All he said was, “Zaccheus, come on down. I want to be your friend. Can I come to your house for supper?”

He called him by name. He offered to be on his level and eat in his house. Jesus knew Zaccheus’ need for acceptance and affirmation. He loved him in action, not just with words.

A gentleman with a grossly distorting birthmark over half his face recounts how his mother held him close at an early age and told him repeatedly that his birthmark was where the angels had blessed him at birth and that it was a sign of how special he was to God. This man said, “I believed her. By the time I was in high school, I almost felt sorry for my classmates who did not have a special mark of God’s love.”

His mother loved him like Christ loved Zaccheus.

Jesus told us to love as he has loved us. When more than 100 Christians were asked how do they know Jesus loves them, more than 50% responded that when they least deserved an answer to prayer, when they had failed the most in their personal and spiritual life, they confessed their shortcomings and experienced total forgiveness and love from Christ.

By honestly confessing our unworthiness, by humbly saying, “I don’t know why you should love me at all, Lord, I have failed,” we can sense Christ’s hand on our shoulder and his Spirit in our heart saying “Yes, you have failed, but it does not change my love for you.”

When we experience Christ’s love for us, we can pass on this love to others.

Our loving presence can be a sign of hope to our weary world. “The heart that loves is always young.” (Unknown)