Wednesday, July 21

BRAVE LOVE...

Greetings, dear readers!

I know this is an altAred art blog, but I have made it no secret that there is a spiritual side to me as well...one that often dresses in a monk robe!

I hope you will indulge me as I hit some of the highlights of my sermon "Brave Love..."

The thrust of the entire message was about my sister and her family who are now living in Sudan, Africa. Here's my intro:

WELCOME: I bet you’re wondering…did I come to the right place? Am I in the right church? Yes, you did and yes you are…so what’s with the monk robe? Well, I’m a monk. An evangelical monk. I’ve studied as monks study, and I am an “official, card carrying” monk. I always wear my robe when I am functioning in a pastoral capacity, so that’s the explanation for the “garb”…in case you were wondering. J

AND, in case you haven’t figured it out, these wonderful people here are my relatives. Pam’s my sister…can you tell? I’d also like to point out and embarrass my son Paul and daughter in law Leah!

Thanks too for the many friends that have come to support both me and missions today. I appreciate it. A lot.

And then I said this:
WHAT is it, that causes a family to sell all they have, leave their home and family, and move to the other side of the world…in HOPE of making friends with strangers? (Pam and fam)



WHAT would cause a son to give up the security of his father’s textile business, give up the notariety of being a war hero, and instead spend his time bathing and caring for lepers? (Francis of Assisi)



WHAT is it that would drive a man to give up a church he pioneered, a huge congregation, a comfortable living, a strong presence in the community…to go to an obscure place in Thailand to LIVE in poverty and hope to make a difference THERE? (Francis Chan)



WHAT is it, that causes a well known singer/songwriter to give up royalties and money from his music, (he asked his accountant to only give him whatever the average guy in America was making per year…and to send him a weekly paycheck. When he died, in 1997, his pay was 26,000 a year) and instead live in a hogan on an indian reservation teaching music to kids? (Rich Mullins)



WHAT kind of “crazy love” is it that causes a Father to give His only Son for the wrongs of the very same people who will KILL HIM?



What kind of lunacy causes us to behave in such a way? I believe it is “brave love.” The kind of love that knows no fear, because it is free. Last week pastor David called it “Fearless Freedom.” YES!

~ A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. ~ Mahatma Gandhi.


A friend and I just watched the movie Gandhi. Wow…what a powerful story of brave love! Gandhi was a lawyer…did you know that? I did not! But as a lawyer he was able to stand for the rights of the people of India in what was then a British-ruled empire.

In one especially poignant scene, Gandhi’s message of peaceful resistance was spreading throughout India. The British hierarchy laughed and mocked his “following” and counted it as “no threat.” One one particular day, a group of men and women, several THOUSAND men and women, determined they were going to stand without violence. They linked arms, 10-15 wide, and then marched resolutely into the arms of those who were waiting to beat them, bludgeon them, and leave them bleeding and dying. They came. And having seen what happened, they did not retreat. They raised not a hand and spoke not a word. They came. And they came. And they came.

An American reporter said of the scene: “Whatever moral ascendancy the West once held was lost here today. India is free, for she has taken all that steel and cruelty can give and she has neither cringed nor retreated.”

THAT dear friends, is brave love.

1 John 4:18 says: Perfect love, (BRAVE love) drives out fear.

I’m sure you’ve all heard or seen the acrostic for FEAR?

F--FALSE
E--EVIDENCE
A--APPEARING
R--REAL

If this is FALSE evidence, then what is the TRUE evidence?
Last week we saw an excellent video…we were told 3 important truths:

1. God is FOR us. So we need not FEAR punishment.
2. God is WITH us. So we need not FEAR tragedy.
3. God is IN us. The hope of glory! So we need not FEAR failure.

Therefore, we must muster whatever courage we can and walk bravely into that which we fear most…fear of being hurt, fear of being rejected, fear of losing everything, fear of being made a fool of (there ARE worse things!)

We are called to love…to emulate Love…to BE the kind of love that Christ was while He walked here on earth. Wouldn’t it have been easier for Jesus to say, “You know, if people want to see or hear from ME, then THEY can come see ME in the synagogue.” The truth of the matter is, Jesus didn’t spend much time at all inside the Church building. He was out with the people.

But love does not come without sacrifice.

He did not have, what some might call the “luxury of being brave from a distance.” He was called to be out among and with the very people who would later kill Him. THAT is Brave Love.

Pam and John do not have the luxury of being brave from a distance. Brave love compels them to go and live among the Muslim people in Sudan. THAT, is Brave Love.

Francis of Assisi fell head over heels in love with Jesus…and he began to act like a man in love. He’d spend hours in the fields just thanking God for the flowers and animals. He’d sing to the chipmunks. He’d preach to the birds. Don’t you know to those who knew him, his friends and family, he must have looked like he’d lost his mind. But the TRUTH of the matter is, he’d FOUND it. Being in love makes us crazy. Are you head over heels in love with Jesus this morning? Remember what that’s like? Remember when you first fell in love…the grass was greener, the sky was bluer…everything was beautiful.

But love does not come without sacrifice.

Francis gave up his inheritance to spend time with lepers…with those no one else would even go near. He said, “I see the face of Christ in each one I see…” and he would hug them. In Biblical days lepers were untouchable? No one, not even their families could touch them. And Francis, the little man from Assisi, bathed their wounds and brought them food. And he hugged them. THAT is BRAVE LOVE.

Here’s a quote from one of these who lived with Brave Love:

"Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken." (the quote by the way, is from Rich Mullins)

So, loving others, ALL OTHERS, (even in the church body) requires us to be brave. We need to show ourselves friendly. Tear down the walls that protect us. Take off the mask. Let Jesus teach us how to love bravely, how to accept each other and how to do this whether we are afraid or not. The time has come. It’s time for BRAVE LOVE.

The next post will be more of the typical fare...thanks for indulging me the privilege of sharing my sermon with you!

Hugs,
Paula Clare

4 comments:

TheNormanFive said...

Excellent... I truly feel blessed by reading your post today.
Erin

NanE said...

Thank you Paula for sharing your inspiring words with us today. Oh if we could all be little Christs, every day, to do just the smallest good deed for someone in need. Why is it so hard for us to sacrifice so little compared to those who give so much?!

Creative Breathing said...

Thank you Paula! Wonderful. E

Debbie said...

Thanks for sharing. I just recently read Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love. I didn't know he moved to Thailand! It was great to read your other examples of crazy/brave love. I can't turn around lately without God speaking to me about this. I sense some crazy/brave love in my future :)