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2017—The Year of Love
A year ago, I felt like the Lord was calling us to focus on Love—real Biblical love—as the theme for the year. So, 2017 became for us “The Year of Love.” Isn’t it amazing to have the perspective of hindsight? I really think the Lord has taught us a great deal about His Love this past year!
In trying to summarize how the Father has matured me in understanding His love, I want to quote a passage of Scripture we read a few days ago. This is from First Peter chapter 4:12-14.
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is the spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. If you’re abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It’s the Spirit of God and His glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. (The Message)
This past year has been difficult at times, but the Lord has definitely been on the job! Loving people even when you don’t understand exactly why they are doing what they are doing or going the way they are going is the heart of Christian love. To love people regardless… That is the beginning of loving people with the Love of the Lord!
This past year has been a refining year for me personally and certainly for us as a Church Family. Refining—Wilderness Seasons—are often not our most favorite memories—but they are usually our most defining times. The Father has clearly refined our hearts and focus as we enter 2018 with a clarity that never could have come if things just stayed easy.
Out of the refining has come a clarity of love—for the least and the lost around the world and around the corner—that has never been so clear as it is now. As we connect tightly with villages around the world and right in our own county, we will be part of the Father’s Love for people who are so often forgotten by the institutional church. Jesus was never interested in public approval, financial “success,” or impressing the proud and powerful. Jesus intentionally did most of His ministry in the neglected villages of Galilee. He has called us to love likewise.
The heart of God-love is Obedience. Jesus was perfectly obedient to the Father—the perfect expression of perfect love. Walking in obedience, as the passage above makes clear, is almost always costly… painful… and misunderstood. Yet, it is the necessary heart of Christian Love.
So I am asking you to prayerfully consider with me the possibility that God is calling us to designate 2018 as “The Year of Obedience.” I wonder now what this will all mean in a year. But even now, I think the Lord will define and refine us in ways that will make Love even more powerfully love—and obedience…, well maybe a little less scary a word…!