Conduits of God’s Love

Last Sunday Charles exhorted us to let God’s love overflow from our lives into those of the people around us. To do that we need to remove any blockages in the way, maybe the biggest of which is our fear.

An early morning train speeds through the grey dawn, as houses come to life in a snowy landscape – cold, grey houses, with lights slowly coming on in kitchens and bathrooms. But does anything other than electric light warm the landscape? Are there warm emotions awakening in those homes –connecting to create a web of love and warmth across the nation?
Maybe there are feelings of love, care, empathy, mutual support, help, friendship? But maybe there is also: antipathy, envy, competitiveness, anger, selfishness …..

It’s a jaundiced view, maybe, but sometimes it can feel like we live our lives at complete odds with the world around us, a world that seems to be a dry and weary place.
In Psalm 62 David reflects a similar uncertainty. He reminds us that God is our rock: “In Him alone we find salvation.” David prayed to God about his troubles. And he was no longer a captive of fear. In God, in Christ, nothing can shake us. That is the power of God’s love.

But do we too overlook that too easily? If that LOVE abounded, how good would that be……
…….. across the landscape, house to house, home to home, family to family. It’s what we dream of, the Kingdom to come, when Christ’s love rules the world. But we feel like we are, as Psalm 63v1 says: “In a dry and weary land.”

We need to grow love in our lives and our communities. But it’s not easy. A small insight into this, a taste of it maybe, came in Brunei Darusalam, in distant Borneo. The country’s name translates as “abode of peace”. Strong moral laws and vigorous welfare support from oil wealth help this small country achieve that in part. It’s not perfect – road accidents, human trafficking, drugs – they all still happen.

But as a Malay Muslim Monarchy it achieves some success, through 3Ms:

  • Malay – reflecting the polite, deferential, Malaysian culture
  • Muslim – God fearing, with a different view to ours, but a strong faith nonetheless
  • Monarchy – living under a monarch’s absolute power, within his benevolence, but also obedient to his directives.

The fact is, it wasn’t a peaceful country because of love, but because of a sort of ambivalence, born of a caring welfare state and an easy lifestyle.

Maybe we can think of our plan for success being a better one, based on 3Cs:

  • Christadelphian – a loving community of respect, friendship and support
  • Christian – looking to Christ, our loving leader, and his loving Father, the one God, the Lord Almighty.
  • Coming-Kingdom – a loving partnership with Christ, as his church, fully obedient to a loving God.

In all 3 Cs love is paramount: it rules supreme. Nothing else. Not judgement, not learning, not study, not preaching, not serving, not giving.…..not doing anything. But loving. Having love in our hearts – the love inspired by Christ, welling up inside us, to help us do what Christ wants us to, in whatever befalls us.

Paul reflects Christ’s message about this in Romans 13v8: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the
law.”

So, will we be channels of God’s love, conduits overflowing with what God has given us, so others notice? When we turn the lights on in the morning, will we think: “This is the day that the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Will you be a channel of God’s love?


Predictions To Ponder

Last Sunday Russell encouraged us to look at how Joseph’s life acted as a predictor of our Lord Jesus, and how God’s predictions were fulfilled through Christ’s suffering, his glory, and the salvation he made available to us all.

In today’s world we might turn to weather predictions to try to help us plan our days. Sometime they are right. Other times they can prove to be wrong. A forecast of heavy snowfall maybe sets us thinking about days off work, school or college. When a meagre sprinkling of a just little snow falls instead we end up with chaos as we try to press on with our “normal” lives.

God’s predictions are different. They are rock solid. In Genesis we find crucial predictions, told through the life of Joseph, a man not unfamiliar with predictions himself. His whole life was a prediction of things to come, of Christ, and his suffering, his apparent demise, and his return to provide salvation. Indeed, Joseph’s name, in Egyptian, means “one who reveals……, and saves.”

Since Jesus died, and returned, as predicted through Joseph’s life, many have been saved through the Gospel message. As John reports (John 12:24), “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Joseph was a shepherd (Gen 37:2). Jesus said he was a shepherd too (John 10:14). He said he was a shepherd whose sheep knew him. So we humbly remember him, as sheep, recognizing his voice. And do we love him deeply and passionately, reflecting how well we know him? Do we know him as well as our best friend, sharing our problems with him? We can.

What goods were the Ishmaelite traders carrying with them to sell, when Joseph was sold to them? Gen 37:25 – spices, balm, myrrh, as used in mummification in Egypt, to preserve the bodies of the dead. These items were not produced locally, but brought in, from across the desert….

Later, when Joseph’s family joined him in Egypt, they were given the choice lands of Goshen. This favouring of the people was despite them being shepherds – people the Egyptians detested. Jesus, too, was favoured by his Father, despite the “world” hating him. Indeed, his cloak was fought over, just as Joseph’s had been.

Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams was a gift from God. He acknowledged this: Gen 40:8 – “do not interpretations belong to God”. He effectively positioned himself as the mediator between men and God. Just as Jesus is for us.

These and many other parallels between Joseph and Jesus all serve to help us come closer to Jesus, to improve our understanding of our saviour. God’s predictions are not vague, uncertain and unfulfilled. They are precise, sure and being fulfilled as history unfolds. We can put all of our faith in them.