Welcome back for Part 3. My emotions are a little raw again this morning. This was the day set aside for Rex's memorial service. I came across a song for the first time this week, or perhaps I just really heard the words for the first time. Steven Curtis Chapman wrote it after the death of their young daughter the summer of 2008. It is titled See. This video has a brief interview in which Chapman explains where the idea for the song came from with the song actually beginning around minute 4:22. Even when our hearts are breaking, even in the midst of those unanswered questions we see things with an eternal perspective and that makes all the difference.
And that patient endurance in times of struggle leads us to godliness. (2 Peter 1:6b) I have to ask, what is godliness? I pulled out my Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance again (love that title!) The Greek word used here is eusebeia (yoo-seb'-i-ah) which means godliness and Strong's expands upon that to say: "it is from eu, 'well,' and sebomai, 'to be devout,' denotes that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well pleasing to Him." So then godliness must be a devotion to God that seeks to please Him, in thought and in action.
Godliness leads to love for other Christians- that brotherly love we hear about. Look how far down the progressive list this is. Can it be that brotherly love does not come as naturally as we think? Can it be that it comes with maturity in the faith? Can it be why the church has such a bad reputation in the world- we do not yet know how to love one another as we should? Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35, NASB Jesus is not talking about just putting up with people, smiling and hugging them on Sunday at church and then walking away and thinking/speaking poorly about them the rest of the week. He is not talking about telling people we will pray for them and then never giving them another thought. He is talking about loving them the way He loves us- sacrificially, without reservation, without limit. Can you imagine what our churches would like like filled with people like that?! Well, it starts with us dear ones.
"and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone." (v. 7b) A love that extends not just to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but to everyone. For God so loved the world...He does not desire that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He loves the Muslim, the Buddhist, the Mormon, the prostitute, the drug addict, the homosexual, the liar, the thief, the murderer. When we look at the people around us do we see a world that is lost, a world in need of the Savior. They seem to think we are in the business of condemning people. Just what do I see when I look at those outside the church. They are people who are lost, stumbling in the dark and most do not even know it. The kind of love that is genuine here is the kind of love that leads me to see them not as the enemy, (which they are not!) but to have compassion, just as Jesus did. Not to condone their lifestyles, but to be salt and light- to show them that what I have found in Christ is so much better then anything they could imagine and it can be theirs too. I am troubled by those in the church today who think we need to change the message to bring people in. A watered down gospel that does not confront sin is not a gospel that will save anyone. Jesus is the only way, the only truth, the only Light, and no one comes to the Father apart from Him. The only commonality between the Muslim and the Christian is that we are both sinners in need of a Savior.
"The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop these virtues are blind or, at least, very shortsighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin. So dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Doing this, you will never stumble or fall away. And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." -2 Peter 1:8-11.
Today our community is remembering Rex. And we do not mourn as those without hope. He was a ten year old light that shone very brightly, and I think I can hear him saying to all of us- "See, it's everything He said that it would be, and even better than you would believe. And I'm counting down the days until you're here with me. And finally, you'll see."
|Rex Fleming- a giant of the faith.|
Blessings dear friends,