Friday, February 6, 2009

"He Loved Him"

Children. I love to watch children play, communicate, manipulate the things around them. Everything is so basic, so simple. They're only concerns are for food, warmth, sleep, being dry and being loved. You keep a child fed, warm and dry and sit them in a corner and they will still complain. Why? Although their physical needs are being satisfied, they still want someones affection. They want to know they are loved. It's a basic need.

I've been reading through the Gospels lately. I love Mark. He didn't waste words or ideas. He's basic in his writing but in fewer words he packs a punch. I have to flip back to Matthew to get the whole picture sometimes, to see why Mark did or didn't add the details. I always go back to Mark and find he saw Jesus through the eyes of basic of human needs.

For instance, look at Mark 10:17-31. It's the story of "The Rich Young Man." If you've gone to church for any length of time you know this story by heart. The rich man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life (v17). Jesus reminds him of the commandments. The man states he has kept all of them since he was a young boy. Jesus says, yeah but you lack one thing and asks him to sell all of his treasures and follow him. The man doesn't want to, hangs his head and goes back home. Then Jesus states the famous line, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (v 25). Yadda, yadda, yadda.

What amazes me is how Mark includes a description of how Jesus paused before answering this young man about what he was lacking. Verse 21 Mark says, "Jesus looked at him AND LOVED HIM." Wow! That boggles my mind! Jesus addressed the heart issue of this young man who needed assurance of Jesus' love for him before he reproached him with the truth of his heart.

It's the same with our children, isn't it? Before we rebuke their behavior or their heart issues, don't they look at us as if to say, "Do you love me?" Do our children cry when being corrected because they don't want to be wrong or because they think they've fallen out of our good graces and our love? A little of both, I think. But, from my experience children can accept that they need to change a behavior as long as they know we love them irregardless of the change occurring.

How true that is for ourselves and our adult relationships. We all fail at righteousness. We all fail at perfection. There's always something we need to change. We all need to be held accountable for our behavior all of the time especially if we claim to love Christ. But, how fast are we to speak without pausing and looking our brother in the eye and LOVING HIM? How many times do we speak words of rejection, irritation, hate to one another before we stop and love one another as Jesus loved this man? Did Jesus' love for this man stop him from pointing out the problem with his faith? No. The truth must always be brought into the light. But, relationship with this man's heart was forefront in Jesus' mind as he delivered those tough words.

As to changing our behavior? That's not up to man to try to accomplish in himself or in his brother. Verse 27 Jesus says, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Is Jesus saying we shouldn't strive to change or we don't need to change? No. He's saying it's a heart issue. It's impossible to change any sinful behavior within our own power. It's all about how much we give up of ourselves to the work of God in our hearts and lives.

Should we be accountable for wrong behavior and thinking? Absolutely. Should we show our brother that we love him even when we hate his behavior? Absolutely. Jesus does.

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