April 22, 2018

Love: the Way to a Brighter Future




Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;--Psalm 103: 1-4 (KJV)


Immediate, direct love and hope can seem so far away. Evil will always be around. It often can’t be negotiated or prayed away in the short term. Breakthroughs rarely come according to our desires. God has his own perfect timing.

Plenty of Individuals also have challenges of a more personal nature. They wonder how to take even one more step forward. These sufferers may have problems in so many different areas, they’ve lost count.  

Dysfunction is normal to these folks; it’s all they’ve known. They’re used to it. Why should they expect anything more?

That’s why we all look forward to that spoken or written gem that lights our lives when all hope seems lost. We love evidence that God’s love for us is real and powerful. My last article touches on two themes from the spectacular movie, Paul, the Apostle of Christ:
  • Look to the promise, not the circumstances
  • Life is fleeting; change your outlook.
The film is full of wisdom. Unfortunately, we only have room to explore two more topics in this article:

1.  Christlike Love (Agape) is Crucial

“All you need is love.” is the title of a famous Beatles song. I’m not sure they had God’s unconditional love in mind, but I’ll take it. Paul certainly follows that creed in the movie. He believes patience and love can win wars, if not battles. The following table and image list some qualities that characterize both Paul and Luke:

Galatians 5 lists the fruits of the spirit:

Love
Goodness
Joy
Faith
Peace
Meekness
Longsuffering
Temperance
Gentleness


! Corinthians 13 lists the characteristics of charity/love:


Although they were prisoners, Paul and Luke refuse to be defined by bitterness. Paul continues to send out encouraging letters to various churches, as we know. Luke writes down Paul’s words and encourages him.

(Moral of the story: The world is full of fear and hate. It’s easy to give into it. However, love is stronger. It’s the only way to overcome pessimism.)

2.  You Can’t Fight Evil With Evil

Some brash young men want to fight Rome. The rest of the underground Christian community doesn’t agree with their methods. The young men take matters into their own hands. They break into the Mammertine Prison in order to free Paul and Luke.  The armed warriors kill some guards along the way.

They try to convince the prisoners to escape with them. Paul declines. He says, “You can’t fight evil with evil.” The truth of this statement is revealed as the prison stormers’ violence accomplishes nothing good.

The Christian leaders’ restraint brings about a miracle in the end. The commander of the prison trusts the men to heal his dying daughter. The soldier had tried sacrificing to his gods and hiring a skilled physician. Nothing had worked.

Because Luke, a Christian doctor, is able and willing to do the impossible, the pagan commander’s heart is finally softened towards Christianity. He asks Paul a few questions about his religion.

(Moral of the story: Negativity is a common knee-jerk reaction when we’re disrespected, but it doesn’t improve situations. Alternatively, love is like a soothing oil—even aromatherapy. It can calm troubled hearts and break bonds permanently.)

My Conclusion

Agape can be unbelievably powerful for you. It can win mental and physical battles against tremendous odds. Love may be the key to unlocking the door to your prison of negativity.

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How is agape breaking chains for you?