Monday, May 23, 2005

Love and Acceptance

I want to be better.

Music brings with it a nastiness, in a way... that of comparison and being judgemental and critical. In a sense that's good - to be developing the skill of having a discerning or critical ear - but at the same time I wish I could go to a concert and just enjoy it without the internal criticism. Is it wrong to talk to friends after a concert and criticize aspects of it?

What is love? People always seem to be wondering and deliberating about this, but it doesn't seem that complicated to me. The Bible tells us that God is love, and then tells us also the attributes of love - that it is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude or self-seeking or easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth, always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. So to me it seems that we know what love is and the difficulty is not just knowing what it is... but knowing how to put it into action, how to love as God loves. I always pray, "Lord, help me to see people as You see them," even while I know this will not be fully possible in this life - yet I know that I am to love them anyway.

The sermon at church this Sunday was fabulous - it was about accepting one another. It was interesting because I had already been thinking about all these things concerning the state of my heart towards others (and by others I mean not just my friends - everyone), and then the sermon really gave me some good food for thought. The pastor at my parents' church is great at giving real-life sermons that matter and that really have something to offer to everyone, no matter where you might be in life. Even if he's saying things you already know, you also know that they're things you need to hear again.

He talked about how there will be people in life who drive you crazy, and you need to accept them. He called some people "heavenly sandpaper" that rub us the wrong way - here to smooth out our own rough edges by being particularly difficult in some way or other. He said it's important to ask yourself, "am I perfect?" and then remember that okay, neither is anyone else. It puts you more in the frame of mind to offer extra grace if you internally add a Pauline phrase like "of whom I am the worst." A big part of it is humility.

The pastor also talked about how too often we judge people based on where we are now, instead of remembering where we've been, which can also add an extra measure of grace as we work to accept others. He talked about working to be approachable, thoughtful and considerate, understanding, and helpful - these are characteristics of a person who receives others warmly.

He also said something funny: "I can get along with anyone as long as one of us is asleep."

To sum up my thoughts: I'm a bad person, but I want to be better.

I want to reflect Jesus.

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