The pastors in our church take us through books of the Bible verse by verse, so that we are able to make deeper connections with God's Word than we would with topical studies... At least, that's my take on (and probably a super simplified verson of) why they discuss every verse in Romans rather than doing a one week sermon on how to not be an ineffectual Christian. I appreciate the approach, because I prefer the continuity of it all. Some books in the Bible read like a letter, and bounce all over the place with topics, and some follow a structured timeline. Either way, I feel like I am able to understand more of the big picture ideas rather than just latching onto details, which is my tendency. We have been working our way through Romans, which has been much more of a convicting experience this time than the last few times I have worked through it. Maybe I am at a time in my life when I need a little more of a push (or smack upside the head), or perhaps, it is just that I am more receptive to correction. Regardless, I have found that the Lord has been pointing me towards a healthier and more focused mindset. This has affected many areas of my life, but this week I feel like everything has shifted.
Souls to love.
Romans 5 speaks of the astonishing love that the Lord has for us. Verses 8-9 are as follows: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
You see, I take a lot of verses and apply them directly to my life. I don't think that is a bad thing, necessarily, but it may have been keeping me from seeing how much things can apply to those around me as well. Jesus died for all of us. I struggle to wrap my mind around that often because I can't imagine dying for strangers or sending my child to do the same. If everyone is included in that grace, how much more should I look at each and every person as if they are that valuable to God. My pastor (thank you Pastor Kevin!) said that we need to make sure we never look at anyone else like they are a lost cause, that we needed to see everyone (even frustrating, hurtful, awful people) as souls.
I feel like I have been given a fresh start, an opportunity to live my life in a way that gives God more glory. It's as if my eyes finally are able to see through the proper lens. A love lens. Is that a thing? Somehow, this new vision is connected to my mouth because rather than saying something snotty or snarky (or sometimes thinking those things), I am able to stop and see people as souls to love. The woman being rude so loudly in the store is a soul to love. I wondered if something had happened in her day to put her so on edge. The driver that cut me off and drove like a maniac to get to the stoplight moments before me is a soul to love. Maybe they were hurrying to a loved one, or were distracted by something big going on in their lives. The child who pushes all my buttons at the same time is a soul to love. Perhaps their reaction has something to do with the worry and stress they internalize, and they are just trying to exert control over something in their lives. Rather than be rude and comment out loud, my mind focused on trying to figure out how to love those souls in those brief encounters. I might not be the person who shares the gospel with them, but I will be the one who offers them grace and a smile in a moment of God-given love. In my own home, I can be the one who shows unconditional love and extends grace. I am sad that I haven't looked at so many people this way before, but I am unbelievably thankful for the opportunity I have to do it now.
I get to wake up each day, and love these souls, while showing them how to share love with others.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all the mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Trust in Jesus, live purposefully, love every soul.