Monday, February 20, 2017

One Month To Live: Love Completely

1 Corinthians 1:18-21      
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

Last Sunday we began our One Month To Live Series. 

I began by asking a rather simple question: If you knew you had one month to live, how would your life be radically transformed? 

I asked you:
Are you living the dash, knowing fully who you are and why you’re here?
Or are you dashing to live, hurriedly spending precious time chasing things that really don’t matter to you?

I hope that you have taken some time this week to wrestle with that question --- because I am convinced it is not only a profound question --- but if we take it seriously, it can be transformational.

As I met with the Monday morning Bible Study, I was asked if I knew the 2004 Tim McGraw song: "Live Like You Were Dying."  I chuckled when asked because it is a song that is on one of my running playlists --- songs that I use to try to encourage me to put one foot in front of the other.

The song really is this sermon series in verse.  But don't worry, I am not going to sing it to you:  But the song says

"I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days
Looking at the x-rays
Talkin' 'bout the options
And talkin' 'bout sweet time"
I asked him
"When it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How's it hit you
When you get that kind of news?
Man, what'd you do?"

"I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn't
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishin'
Wasn't such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I'd do if I could do it all again

I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying"
And he said
"Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you've got eternity
To think about
What you'd do with it
What could you do with it
What did I do with it?
What would I do with it?

What would you do with it?
Today is the first day, of this new beginning --- what will you do?

Last week I shared with you the first key component of how we might want to live if we really embraced the idea that today is an unique, special gift.

The idea that I shared is that we must live passionately.

Passion is what drives transformation in this world.

Our passion for this gift of life has the potential to change how and why we live.
To stop going through the mundane routines of the world and instead seeing the opportunities to become a Kingdom difference maker.

Survey after survey that interview persons who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness agree on what they would change if they could go back and re-live their lives.

And that, of course, is relationships.

They would love more completely.

Or as Tim McGraw sang --- They would finally become the husband, that most of the time they weren't --- or the friend a friend would like to have.

I truly believe this is the most important of the four principles that Matt and I will share with you.

When we can learn to LOVE COMPLETELY, it changes everything.

The biggest problem with that is, in order to love completely --- we need to know that we are completely loved.

Jesus life is the perfect example of total love.
Yet, most of us don't see it that way.

We recognize that Jesus loves us --- but we often miss the completeness of it.

The author of John's letter tells us exactly what love is when he writes to us: (1 John 3:16 The Voice)
We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Complete love is sacrificial
·         No agenda
·         No requirements
·         just love!

But while Jesus shows us that kind of love, we often don't think we are worthy of it.

Until you KNOW that you are loved completely by Jesus
·         Until you KNOW that Jesus isn't Santa Claus and checking his list to see if you are naughty or nice
·         Until you KNOW that you are forgiven
·         That there is NOTHING that can separate you from the love of Christ

Paul writes in Romans 8:37-38 (The Message
. . . because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

·         Until we KNOW that, we will always feel unworthy and that unworthiness will keep us from loving completely.

But it is relationships that are the most important things in our lives.
And I don't have to tell you, but relationships are hard.
And what makes them so hard, is our unwillingness to recognize that we are totally, absolutely, completely loved!

Pastor Shook, in his book, "One Month To Live" illustrates that building healthy relationships is kind of like climbing a mountain.  And he suggested that there are three mountains that we need to climb over if we want to build, deep --- lasting relationships.

The first mountain is what he called: The Mountain of Misunderstanding.

From my experience, this is where a lot of relationships die.

Often in relationships -- misunderstandings can pile up quickly and kill a relationship.

In the beginning of a relationship, everything seems so beautiful and wonderful.  And then something happens.
Often it is something of no consequence, but that mole hill soon becomes Mount Everest.

Sometimes it is something rather mundane
Nancy and I were at the mall and while I was waiting for something she went off to look at the map of the mall to see if there was a store she wanted to go to (or at least that is what I thought she was doing.)
At one point I texted her and asked if there was an AT&T store in the mall.
She texted back: "Not at sign"
But the reality is what she was really saying was: "I am not at the map so I have no idea of there is an AT&T store.

Certainly not going to break up our marriage --- instead we were able to have a good laugh about it --- but for others, whom have already built a large mountain of misunderstanding it can become another boulder.

And I know of families that are stressed right now because one supported one candidate and the other supported someone else and they cannot fathom how, this person they thought that they knew could do such a thing.

Misunderstanding can be a huge mountain

The second mountain that we must climb is the Mountain of "Me First"
It just seems to be human nature to say: "I’ll meet your needs if you meet my needs first."
Our nature just seems to be one of selfishness.  But that selfishness created a huge obstacle in relationships.

This is not a new problem.

Paul addresses it when he writes in his letter to the Philippians:
Philippians 2:3-4   (NRSV)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

The third and final peak in this rocky range is the most deadly – the Mountain of Mistakes.  And we all make mistakes.

Just as we have misunderstandings and the desire to put ourselves first, we all have faults and we mess-up.

Many relationships are forever abandoned on the mountain of mistakes.

Every one of us has been hurt when someone else wrongs us. And it’s so easy when you’re hurt in a relationship to build this mountain of bitterness around your heart to protect yourself from being hurt again.

Relationships can overcome anger. The Bible says sometimes it’s healthy to get angry when you really care about a relationship.

But whenever you become bitter and you hold on to a hurt and you build a mountain of bitterness around your heart to protect your heart from being hurt, it only hurts you and it poisons your relationships and no relationship can overcome the mountain of bitterness that we can build.

If you really love someone, sometimes you’ll get angry.
And that’s okay if you express it in the right way.

These three mountains shape every relationship.

Too often, the climb is too difficult and we give up
          We give up on marriages
          We give up on children
          We give up on friends
          We give up on co-workers

But we don't have to give up.
We can become the kind of person who knows what it takes to get over the obstacles and keep climbing.

To really love the people in our lives, we have to overcome these mountains and learn to work through the mistakes and push beyond our self-interests.

We have to grow in our willingness and ability to pour ourselves into those we love, and empowering them to persevere after we’re no longer with them.

It’s not easy – relationships aren’t for wimps.

And it’s going to take some extra-ordinary help: God’s power to love completely.

So let me offer some quick tools to help with building relationships that are centered in God's complete love.

1.       We need to learn to accept each other as we are.  I am going to use a dirty word to some people --- we have to be tolerant of each other.

Too often we want to change somebody else --- get them to come around to our point of view.  Thinking we know it all.

The world would be a much better place if we would learn to listen (really listen) to each other with respect!

God loves us just as we are --- and we need to do the same.

2.       We need to practice kindness.

We need to cherish every moment and every opportunity because it might be our last.

We need to be the one who makes the phone call, or writes the email, not waiting for the other to do it first.

3.       We have to learn to give forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the key.
I love how Eugene Peterson translates Colossians 3:12-14 when he writes
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

When asked what they would change more than anything else, what people who have been given a terminal diagnosis say is:  RELATIONSHIPS --- they would love more, listen more, cherish more, forgive more.

You have been given a terminal diagnosis --- you just don't know how long you have to live on the earthly existence. 
How you spend that time is up to you.

I invite you to love completely
and to celebrate those things that you are passionate about.

I invite you to love completely because you have been completely loved --- no matter what.

A couple of you said to me this week that you were trying to figure out something drastic to do --- can I offer a suggestion.

Recognize that you are loved completely and LOVE COMPLETELY in return!

No comments: