Posts tagged loving God
I’m fascinated by what’s going on in the NFL because of Tim Tebow’s influence on the sport this year. If you don’t know already, Tebow is a quarterback for the Denver Broncos, who happens to be an outspoken Christian.
His prayer stance at games have become a sensation, so much so, that people imitate his prayer stance in all types of places—around the world! It’s referred to as “Tebowing”—how amazing to think that someone’s last name is associated with prayer! Tebow regularly thanks “Jesus Christ” for all He’s done for him. And interestingly enough, he has led his team to some spectacular wins this season—he’s seen some success.
Of course, I don’t know Tim Tebow personally. I don’t know that much about who he is as a person, or as a Christian—other than from what he says and how he conducts himself in the context of football games. I do, however, appreciate his boldness.
I couldn’t help watching Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos play Tom Brady and the New England Patriots a few weeks ago—and they are set to play each other again in this year’s playoffs! The first time they met, Tebow and his team lost, but that game had the highest ratings for all NFL games this regular season. I have been considering a few things surrounding Tebow’s rise.
1) I told my wife—I kind of feel bad for him. Not because he’s outspoken about his faith in Christ. More so, is that I know that whenever people are outspoken like that, they will generate a lot of criticism—and constant scrutiny. People will try to look for holes in his armour. And the thing that the Bible tells me clearly, is that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). If you want to find fault—whether it is with Tebow or any other Christian—after a thorough search, you can find it. No one is perfect—whether you are Christian or not. A Christian doesn’t claim to live the perfect life. Being Christian is partly an admission that you’re a sinner in need of a Saviour—Jesus Christ—who forgives, and who you can know personally.
Some people not only want to criticise outspoken people, and scrutinize their every action—but they will try to bring them down precisely because they have taken such a bold stand for their faith in Christ. Sometimes it’s because of jealousy, or because they have a different view on life, or various other reasons.
We see it in the Bible—the prophet Daniel was not only successful in all that he did, but was utterly committed to his faith in God. And what happened? People around Daniel wanted to bring him down—he was ultimately put in a lion’s den (see Daniel 6). John the Baptist was quite outspoken, and he was ultimately beheaded (see Mark 6). Of course, Jesus was quite outspoken, and what did the religious leaders want to do? Bring him down—we know what happened to Jesus.
2) I also remember thinking to myself while watching Tebow play against the Patriots a few weeks ago—will prayers help Tebow win? Because if he wins, maybe more glory goes to God, especially since Tebow’s so outspoken about Christ? But as I thought that, I remembered that winning in life does not always lead to God’s best. It can sometimes—but not always.
Often, it is “losing those games in life” that ultimately produces the quality of person God is hoping for us. Sometimes “losing” is “winning.” The Apostle Paul wrote that we should “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). In the case of those stories in the Bible I mentioned above, we know that from eternity’s perspective, though they went through trials, things ultimately turn for good.
So why my title for this blog? “Tebowing for all the Tebows out there?”—praying for people like Tebow? It’s just to remind us, that those who live outspoken for their faith—whether it is Tim Tebow, a Christian leader, or your friend—need your prayers. They are human, and thus imperfect—and they are often the ones people are looking to criticise, scrutinize, and ultimately bring down. So prayer for such people is not merely about “winning every game.” More so than that, is about asking God to strengthen them to be all God wants them to be in the midst of their “wins” and “losses.”
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I was walking on that sidewalk route as I had many times over the years while in elementary school in Toronto. It was a very cold winter day, and I had a pretty large winter jacket on. I think I might have been in grade 2 or 3, but I can’t say for sure. As I was walking, I noticed a group of people ahead of me – a few years older for sure since they were bigger. They saw me, and I could see that one person was adamant that they had something to do – so they broke from their group, jogged back to where I was, and without hesitation, spat on me – and then went back to their group.
There was no doubt in mind that day that I was spit on because I looked different than them – all the people in that group were a different ethnic background than I. Of course I’m brown, being a Canadian of East-Indian background. (This was during a time in Toronto, when, if you were brown, you were definitely a minority). Now while there were a number of great people who were of that group’s ethnic background in that neighbourhood during that time, these few had different ideas about people who looked different. Anyways, I thought there was not much I could do since they were bigger; so I went home, and told my parents, who were quite upset about what had happened. They of course cleaned my winter jacket.
This incident reminds me of the reality many of us face, whether we are young or old, that because we may look different, act different, or even have different ideas, people treat us with disrespect, and sometimes treat us just terribly. And if we’re honest, it doesn’t just happen on school playgrounds, but in college classrooms, corporate boardrooms, and in our family rooms. Some may “spit” on us with their looks, their words, and their actions. It may be your classmate, “friend,” teacher, boss, or even family member. How we react to these experiences is critical. I think in many ways my story about being spit on relates to issues on different levels, whether it is being bullied or just being marginalized by others. Here are some of my thoughts and reflections:
1) Never isolate yourself when getting mistreated. First off, talk to God about it because He cares for you and wants to help you. Second, someone trustworthy needs to be told, whether it’s a parent, spouse, friend, or authority. Some objective support and possible action with others may be quite important.
2) Never let the foolish words and actions of people dictate who you think you are. It’s easy to let the loudest voice be the one that’s heeded. Don’t let it happen to you. I know I’ve done it many times in my life. Seriously, are you going to let someone who’s either prideful about how great they are or someone who’s so insecure that they have to put down others, dictate your identity? They are quite unreliable.
This also relates to forgiveness. This may be the opposite of what we think we should do, but often when we withhold forgiveness, we become discouraged, depressed, and even bitter – notice I said “we.” Often the perpetrator is off doing their own thing and not caring about you. But when we forgive, we release that issue to God. It’s not that we forget – it may come back to our thoughts at times and make us angry – but it’s about forgiving as Christ forgives us. And then we are released from being “controlled” by bitterness and other negative feelings that those evil acts against us may cause in our hearts.
3) May I suggest you hear God’s voice even in the midst of the other loud voices.
Did you know God loves you? The Bible says, that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). No matter how far you think you’ve gone away from God, He loves you, He died for your sins, and wants to be in relationship with you. He’s waiting for you to come to Him and love Him in return.
Did you know you are wonderfully made? The author of Psalm 139:13-15 writes a revealing reality about us, in his adoration to God; here it is: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” God had you in mind even before you came out of your mother’s womb and “knit” you together so that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made”! God don’t make junk! You are a work of art, and the master artist is God Himself! And this God who made you has a great purpose for your life, which is found in relationship with Him.
I pray that the voice of God, which speaks the truth of who you are, be of much greater impact than the “spits” inflicted on us by others. Hear God’s voice through prayer and time in God’s Word, the Bible. All the best to you, and always a pleasure to hear from you!
I have been hearing Bruno Mars’s song, “Grenade,” quite often in various public contexts these days; it’s almost difficult to avoid. It has been one of the top songs on the charts, and I think for good reason. Bruno Mars is definitely a talented musician. I would like to focus on some of the things he’s saying in the song and its implications for love. You can listen to one version of the song by clicking play on the above link.
Here’s a sample of some of the lyrics from his song:
Gave you all I had and you tossed it in the trash
You tossed it in the trash, you did
To give me all your love is all I ever asked
‘Cause what you don’t understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya
I would go through all this pain
Take a bullet straight through my brain
Yes, I would die for you, baby
But you won’t do the same
Bruno is singing about the extent of someone’s love for a girl – so much so that he would “catch a grenade for ya.” That’s quite powerful. He’ll do whatever he can for her. However, the challenge is that this love is not reciprocated. The girl not only refuses to love back, it seems she’s left him for someone else. Quite sad!
This song and theme finds parallels with the theme of love in the Bible. In John 15:12-14, Jesus states, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (NIV). Expanding on the theme of this biblical passage and Bruno Mars’s song, we can find a number of important things to consider when talking about love.
1) The Love of Jesus Christ. The reality is that the One who has truly shown such unconditional, sacrificial love, is Jesus Christ who in love died for our sins. Though He was holy – sinless – He was willing to die for the sins of humanity because of His love for us. While we deserve death and punishment because of our sins, Jesus took this penalty upon Himself for us.
Christ’s love is unconditional. The Bible explains that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8; NIV). Even in the midst of our sin, even though our human nature is to go against God’s purposes for our lives, Christ loves us and died for our sins. Like the character in Bruno’s song, so many of us do not reciprocate the love God expresses to us in Jesus Christ. We like to do our own thing. We’ve all been there. But today, may I suggest that you consider reciprocating Christ’s love for you – call out to Him in prayer and tell Him you want to follow Him. He’s worth it. If you have any questions about something like this, feel free to message me in the “Contact Josh” page.
Christ’s love is sacrificial. When Christ expressed his love for us on the cross where he died for our sin, He was willing to undergo pain and ultimately death. Like the character in Bruno’s song, willing to undergo painful experiences in light of his love, Christ’s love is one that is not dependent on good “feelings.” So often we think that love is dependent on such feelings – however, Christ did not feel good. Christ underwent painful moments out of love for us.
Christ’s love is in line with God’s purposes. When Christ expressed his love for us on the cross, it wasn’t merely based on what other people wanted. Christ did the will of God (Matthew 26:42) rather than merely please others. This fact is especially important in the following points.
2) Our Love for Others. Jesus states in the above passage (John 15:12-14) that our love must be in line with the type of love He showed us (especially highlighted for husbands’ expression of love for their wives in Ephesians 5:25!).
First, our love for others must be unconditional – not merely based on what others do for us or what you think they deserve. In fact, Jesus said we must even love our enemies (Luke 6:27).
Second, our love for others must also be sacrificial; willing to put others’ needs ahead of our own at times. So many of us can often limit our expressions (or understanding) of love to pleasant FEELINGS of love, when the reality is, that expressions of love may not always FEEL good – it may involve an element of pain. It may sometimes be difficult and unpleasant. While some people are easy to love, it’s not always easy with everyone.
And finally, our love for others should also be in line with God’s purposes for our lives. When we talk about unconditional, sacrificial love, there are some who can get the wrong ideas. Let me explain. 1) I would definitely not commend self-destructive behaviour primarily to win someone’s affections; people should love you for who you are. 2) This type of behaviour should not merely be for selfish gain (e.g., merely to look good in front of everyone); love should be genuine. 3) I don’t think this type of love is about being a doormat to someone else’s manipulations or selfish desires; even Jesus Christ had a purpose for His love, in line with the will of God, that was unwilling to bend to what other people felt He should do; He was no people-pleaser.
I recognize that expressing this type of love that the Bible commends is not easy. However, the Bible says in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he [Jesus] first loved us” (NIV). When we first experience God’s love when we follow Him, He provides us with a supernatural power through the Holy Spirit to live in a way that is loving. The Bible says that one of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is love (Galatians 5:22). I’m thankful that unconditional, sacrificial, purposeful love is not something I am expected to develop in my own strength – God provides such resources for us through the power of His Spirit!
Always a pleasure to hear from you! Feel free to comment with your own thoughts and observations on this topic.
I have been meaning for a while to start up a site for ministry purposes, but have kept putting it off. I decided I just needed to do something. So for one of my first blogs, I thought I should start with the rationale for the name of this site: Loving God and People.
The inspiration for the name of this website is of course from Jesus’ words in the Bible. A few years ago, while attending college, I was wrestling with the various principles, ideas, concepts, commandments, and more that I had read and studied related to God and the Bible through sermons, lessons, and lectures over the years. And I must admit, I was a bit overwhelmed. I came to a point in my time of prayer that I asked God, what do you really want of me. I really felt directed to the passage in the Gospels. Here is a brief look at the story when Jesus was dealing with some teachers in Matthew 22:35-40:
35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Reading this passage many years ago was refreshing for me. When it came down to it, what was most critical in my life was to love God and love people the way I loved myself! Looking at life through that filter, then, was helpful. It’s the “loving God and people” filter. I think we can all say we have fallen short of doing this in our lives, so I’m thankful that God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. And our response, then, is love. We love God by following Jesus Christ, obeying Him, and loving our world.There’s so much more to say about loving God and people that one mere website could never do justice to this idea. In fact, Jesus said that the entire “Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Thus, probing the Word will help us get a better idea of what this all means.
However flawed our attempts may be, let’s seek to love God and people with everything in us. Through various means, I hope that the discussions on this website will encourage us to do so.
If you are reading this, you are welcome to include your thoughts on how people have or have not sought this out in life. And I do not think we have to be “super-spiritual” here – your thoughts may even relate to something in the news, life, the Church, sports, or whatever.