In this "Agapé Season" of our lives, Joanne and I have identified these four words as "words" to live by. They express the basic Christian outlook, lifestyle and values that have lived by for years.
#unconditonallove: Is the overwhelming, highest level of God's love that we discover in Jesus, the Christ (Messiah). As the long awaited gift from God that brings everyone home, Jesus ispresent with us in the here and now, not only teaching, loving and bringing change to people's lives, but actually offering the gift of God's self-sacrificing presence into our world. We are embraced by this love whether we want it or not.
And now, in the midst of our broken, hyper-consumeristic, overly divisive and painfully self-centered world, such a love is desperately needed to combat the evil, the tragedy, the loneliness and isolation that we all are living in.
#gracefulforgiveness: Often overlooked in the lives of many Christians, forgiveness is central to understanding that unconditional love. Forgiveness begins in the forgiving cleansing that God has for all that we've done, everywhere we've been, everything we've said that has been hateful and hurtful.
God's graceful forgiveness heals us as we realize we can't heal and forgive ourselves. It challenges us to live not just in love, but in God's UNCONDITIONAL love that is expressed most profoundly in forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others. We "forgive others as we ourselves have been forgiven." .... our friends, our neighbors, .....and even our enemies
#eternallivingnow: It's clear that we don't talk about God's heavenly presence enough. We hold it out as some sort of reward granted to us at the end of our lives. But we where Christ is, there heaven is. We easily say "Christ is with us" but we neglect the consequences of that reality.
We regularly pray "Your will be done, on heaven as it is on earth" but then let the brokenness and evil of the world overwhelm us so that all we look forward to is some kind of heavenly escape pod when we die.
"The Kingdom of God is at hand" Jesus proclaims at the beginning of the Gospels. It's a reality now!... as well as eternally.
And in fact, that is the "Gospel", the "Good News" that we are to proclaim. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;..." (Mk 1:15) It's a call to "repent, and believe in the good news." and so be welcomed in heaven right now, as an heir to the Kingdom, a sibling to Christ. We get to taste eternal living right now. To begin living a sanctified life right now, changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. We're "Citizens of Heaven" (Phil 3:20), and it's time we lived a more sanctified life because of that!
#radicalservice: The fourth hashtag makes all the previous three real by making sure that we truly love as God loves... an all embracing, Holy love that is focussed on all the people of his heart, everything we see around us and reaching out to all of creation. We are allowed to "till and keep" it all. (Gen 2:15)
It is this most holy reality that we are given and that we choose to remain in, serving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength; serving others and serving the world in all the ways we can.
With all this in mind, Joanne and I are committed to deeply taking seriously John Wesleys' admonition:
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
In the power of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen!