Friday, January 13, 2012

How Should We Love?

How Should We Love?
I have some possible mentors for us that might help us answer this question.  All of them chosen to be part of a tour that would in the end, be very revealing!
How did Augustus Gloop love?
Augustus, a gluttonous boy, loved sweets so much so that he was unhealthy and enormously fat.  After seeing a river of chocolate in a Chocolate Factory Augustus bends down and starts to drink in way more than his body should have.  Despite the warnings of Willy Wonka, who owned the factory, he keeps drinking and falls into the river.  He is sucked through a pipe, gets stuck because he is so fat and after the pressure builds up enough he is shot through the pipe into a room where fudge is manufactured.  In the end he leaves the factory dripping with chocolate.  Still addicted to what almost killed him.
We can love like Augustus Gloop loved!
Just love to eat on the ways of the world more than the ways of God and that is what we will get fat on. Despite the exhortations of wise counsel, if we eat good stuff on Sunday mornings, and the rest of our time we are feeding ourselves junk then we cannot expect to be a healthy part of what God is doing on this earth. When an opportunity comes to make a difference we will not be able to hide how fat and immobile we have become.  We’ll get stuck in a tube.  Out of the heart the mouth speaks.  Junk goes in, junk comes out.  And in the end we will be covered from head to toe, dripping with it.  There will be no hiding what we had been feeding on.
How did Violet Beauregarde love?
She loved to gloat about her accomplishments, the most important being an expert gum chewer. Chewing one piece for months at a time.  Violet’s view was that these accomplishments mattered and being the best gave her an identity that mattered too.  Constantly chewing gum narrowed her self worth to such a degree that it sealed her fate.  Without permission, she grabbed a pice of experimental three-course meal gum at the Chocolate Factory and when it got to the dessert, blueberry pie, she turned into a large juicy blueberry.  Never did she spit the gum out, but just kept on chewing even when she was told that as she chewed she was becoming something she was not meant to be.  What good is she as a blueberry?  Although she was squeezed back to her regular size her skin was forever blue.
We can love like Violet Beauregarde loved!
If we love to gloat about the petty worthless habitual accomplishments we are the best at like Violet did, then no matter how awesome the world says that accomplishment is it is working against who we are meant to be in Christ Jesus.  We are heading down a path of destruction.  Grabbing that “gum” without permission effects our body big time and is a waist of our gifts and talents.  Instead of becoming more holy, sanctified by God’s word, we are turning blue.  Very blue!  Our spirit longs to be reconciled to God and He wants to use us for his Kingdom’s sake.  Continuing to chew on our old habits or gloating about what we may be good at only glorifies ourselves and not the God who made us.  When we are being told what is happening to us we can stop, spit it out and wait for God’s leading!  Refusing to spit it out leads to a joy-deprived spirit stuck in the blues.
How did Veruca Salt Love?
Veruca, a girl who was spoiled by her parents, loved material things so much that almost every time she opened her mouth it started with the words, “I want.”  Wanting only led her to wanting more.  Her love led to a dissatisfied heart despite her parent’s efforts to give her everything she asked for.  She held onto greed and this led to her downfall.  Literally!  She wanted a squirrel from the Nut Room in the Chocolate Factory and the very things she wanted threw her down the rubbish chute. Veruca’s downfall landed her in garbage.
We can love like Veruca loved!
If we love material things to the point of the first words out of our mouth every time we turn around is “I want.”  Then we too are headed to a place where we will be emerged in lovely garbage.  Greedy intentions leads us to striving after more and more stuff.  More money, more toys, more house and more fame.  In the end we can’t take it with us.  It’s garbage.
How did Mike Teavee love?
Then there’s Mike Teavee who also loved.  Mike, a mumbling boy who did nothing but watch television’, loved technology so much that his view of reality was severely altered.  Being fixated and caught up with man-made stimulation devices took his head to a fantasy place resulting in poor judgment concerning his God-made real body.  This poor judgment played itself out in the Chocolate Factory to such a degree that he used a machine Wanka created to transmit chocolate into televisions on himself and shrunk in the process.  Unaffected by his smallness he wanted to do it again completely blinded by the fact it would shrink him into nothingness.  He would become nonexistent!  In the end he was stretched back out but his body was never the same.
We can love like Mike Teavee loved!
If we love like Mike loved then technology devices, social networks and virtual games are the way to go.  We can love them to the point where they engulfs all our minds, our actions and our judgment.  Our spiritual awareness can shrink.  Time-draining activities with zero spiritual purpose takes us away from the purpose God has for us as well as our face to face relationships. Over infatuation in this area aids in a make-believe reality.  If TV, Video games, phones and computers are all we live for than we become unaffected by how small we have become in our effectiveness for God’s Kingdom.  We are blinded on that path that will lead to nothing.  How small does our purpose on this earth have to become before it is gone?  In the end we want to hear “Well done good and faithful servant, well done.”
How did Charlie Bucket love?
Charlie Bucket, a kind hearted poor boy has a love that puts others before himself.  He is undernourished but refuses to ever take an extra portion of food because it would deprive another member of his family.  He is also curious and interested in Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory. While there he too is tempted in his weakness.  His grandfather suggested to steal a quick gulp of fizzy lifting drinks and Charlie gives in.  It was in private and so nobody on the tour knew.  But Wonka knew and when Charlie was the only one left on the tour he is told that he looses the prize of the lifetime supply of chocolate for stealing the drinks.  Feeling remorseful Charlie’s true heart comes out.  He is not upset about loosing the chocolate but is upset that he let Wonka down. He makes it right by returning the only gift he had left from the Chocolate factory, an everlasting gobstopper.  By returning it Charlie showed that he did not have any evil or selfish intentions in his heart and that he was truly sorry for what he had done.  That one decision made all the difference.  Not only was he forgiven and his prize was restored to him, but he received even more!  He became an heir to Wonka and promised an inheritance of the entire Factory.  
We can love like Charlie Bucket loved!
When we love like Charlie, we love doing what is right to please God.  Loving like Charlie is to Love our God with all of our heart soul and mind and love others as we love ourselves.  It's being aware that we are not perfect, that we fall short of the Gory of God.  Even if it's in ways that are not public and is sort of behind the scene where the others on the tour can't see.  Admitting the grime is there, saying sorry and being willing to be changed is loving like Charlie did.  We are lifted out of the garbage and made clean.  Our make-believe ways that fall short is replaced by His grace and we become valuable players in His kingdom.  Trusting in Him alone, handing over it all, even the very last little things that might hold us captive, the everlasting gobstoppers.  Then we win!  We are welcomed in as heirs, the prize is restored and more!  As we put our trust in Him we win the grand prize, an eternal inheritance. 
How does Jesus love?
Wait a minute, Jesus was not on the same tour as our other possible mentors!  He is not even mentioned in the book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.  True.  Charlie is the clear winner and our choices could stop right there.  Many good people choose to love how Charlie did.  But truth be told even in our best efforts we all have traces of Augustus, Violet, Veruca and Mike creep in now and then.  The true power to love comes from Jesus.  If we love like Charlie did, it should point others to Jesus as their mentor.  His tour is recorded in The Bible.  How he came teaching, healing and empowering. He came from heaven to tour earth in order to love us.  First in word and then in deed.  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.  This is not talking about enduring common sufferings like giving up seconds on a meal.  What Jesus gave up (or laid down) was his whole self to the most bitter, painful, and long lasting sorrow and death.  And not just for his circle of friends and family, but for an entire unbelieving world.  Defeating death, Jesus did not stay dead.  He rose up 3 days later and showed himself!, Opening up the scriptures about this miracle, unveiling truths never before realized. If we could bottle up and hold all the love that exists on this earth, it would still not compare to how much love God has for us in sending Jesus to us.  In the end His tour on earth was the most revealing of all our mentor candidates!  His love sacrifice invited all of us into an eternal inheritance through reconciliation with our God... the grand prize is life everlasting!  Now that’s how to love!
We can love like Jesus loves too!
Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, after all his work on earth was completed, He gave this charge, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20.  We have the power through Christ’s spirit in us to choose Jesus as our mentor and love like He loves.  “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” John 3:16  Sacrificial, unconditional love that points others to Christ.  I wonder how different our days would look if we chose Jesus as our mentor?  Charlie inherited the factory giving him the ability to make all people on earth taste sweetness in all sorts of candy.  We inherit God's kingdom giving us the ability to live with God's spirit in us helping others to also taste God's sweet love in sending Jesus.
How Should We Love?
Well after taking a look at some lover mentor, who is your mentor?  These Children showed their love openly, freely and without reservation.  As they loved they ended their tour with their true "love" identity revealed.  Charlie won the grand prize on the Chocolate Factory tour for being honest and true.  You have a golden ticket and are on a special God ordained tour too.  How honest and true can you be before God?  How will Jesus’ love for you change you?  How are you going to use your time?  How will your tour end?  How are you going to love?  

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