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Where's The Love?
by James R Fulton
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There's nothing like it in the whole wide world.

You're asking what aren't you?

Well, there's nothing like the first time we hold hands with our perspective mates.

To kiss them.

To hold them endlessly in our arms.

Etching their faces into our memories banks.

To spend a quiet moment with them.

To laugh with them.

Cry with them.

Sharing things with them.

Yep, nothing like it in the whole wide world.

Now, if we are so enthralled with our lover, are we going to tear them down when they aren't feeling well? Are we going to rake them over the coals if they're facing some dire straights ahead of them? Are we going to bash their heads in when they have nothing in the refrigerator and they ask us for some food? Truth is, we're be moving mountains to see that they're surrounded by love. A very active love, you might say; but love nonetheless.

And what if this isn't your darling, what if this is your sibling? Or Parent? Or even your own child? Would you not lend a hand to your own family if they needed help? (Of course I realize that not all families are functional, loving, and supportive; in fact, the original family was very dysfunctional, a son kills his brother, Mom and Dad screw up a simple command, "Don't" and they did, thus sending the world and all mankind down the sewer, but I digress) But as hard as it for some to believe, there are some families, no matter how dysfunctional or caring they might be, that would help out a hurting member who is in need and do it without a critical tongue, either.

Which leads me to ask this question: if love is what excites us to do great things for love ones, whether they'll be friend, family, or the one that is ever on our mind, then why isn't this the same motive in a lot of churches these days? If we know how to love those close to us, then shouldn't love be foremost in the church?

Someone is limited in a physical capacity, someone was laid off from work, someone is terminally sick, someone is facing some legal issues, someone is facing a bankruptcy, someone is on the verge of being homeless, someone.....and the list goes on and on. And how do we handle some of these problems? We throw up one of the most misquoted scriptures of all time, "By His stripes we are healed," then the poor soul is brow beaten and made to feel less of a person because the insentive brother or sister makes this lousy comment - "You just need to have faith!" (translation: stop telling us about what is troubling you, you're bringing the rest of us down. We're Christians, we're supposed to be happy with plastic smiles glued to our faces with our brains and hearts turned off....)

In a lot of churches nowadays, the talk is, "wouldn't it be nice to have a first century church?" Truth be told, a lot of Christians are experiencing a first century church; they just happen to be in countries that oppresses religious practicises, especially that of Christianity. But think for a moment, in these churches that are in these opressive countries, if one of it's members is suffering from one of the ailments forementioned, do you think that church will survivie if the pastor or elders take on such an attitude that has taken root here in the states with - "just have faith" and nothing else nothing else to offer the poor hurting soul? Would God be honored if such a statement is made as in - "still dealing with some hidden sin, I see. That's why you're in such a mess" Would Jesus be glorified if one of these churches started preaching "God wants you rich, so make me rich by buying my book on why God wants you rich".

Sadly, the charlatans that disguise themselves as t v evangelists and pop theologians here in the U S have taken Lord's gospel and bastardize it with the American dream. Thus cheapening the Lord's salvation while misleading the people with the Lord's very own words! (Which by the way, is just down right sinster when you actually think about!) Besides, it causes the world to blaspheme God because the gospel has been debased to the point of diminishing Christian love that is so much needed in the church for it to flourish. All the critics of the church (well the churches in America)ever hear is how to get rich, how to be healthy, how to be perfect, how to be successful but when it comes to how to show Christian love, well...we show how much we care by covering our ears to those in the misdt of us and wish them well. Almost like a social club during open membership drive.

The Lord may want to make you prosperous, but that doesn't mean He'll make you into a gazillionaire. He may want you healthy, but don't think for a moment that you won't get the sniffles every now and then. Or God forbid, a nasty stomach virus! And let's not forget about the many missionaires that inspite of diseases, rejection, persecution, warring factions, hunger, imprisonment, torture, loneliness, et al, went into different parts of the world knowing full will that they themselves may not return home. So in the scheme of things, it's not so important that God pampers spoil brats as it is to get the message out - "I sent you my Son. Believe in Him; it is in your best interest to do so"

So when we accuse a brother who just came to the faith because of his inoperable lung cancer and we take his young faith and carve it up like a drunken surgeon with a scalpel with insipid remarks like - "it's all in your head" or "the devil got a hold on you" or "it's all those cigarettes, huh?" (when it was cause from abestos) is it any wonder he stops coming to any church? Maybe it's a young woman, who has walked away from a life of alcohol beause she seen the damage it's doing to her life. She struggles daily with it and some in the church have accused her of past sins which she may still be dealing with the consequences that those sin lead her to do. These caring souls sharpen their tongues on her back instead of taking her into their hearts and washing her in prayer and drying her in God's love.

An old camp song talks about the world will know us by our love. How sad that we offer something altogether different in the guise of Christ love. If we want to see the impact of Christ in our lives, as well as our churches, then lets stop this nonsense of "helping" the fallen with idiotic rehtoric, back biting tongues, and selfish desires and reach out with the love of Christ, by providing food for the ones that are hungry in our congragetions, hence we end up feeding the world. Lending tender hands to those that are sick in the congrgetion, so the world sees that our faith is a doable one. Ears to those that need a friendly face to sit with and listen to their hurts and troubles ergo, the world just might see the Lord's heart. Give an offeratory for those that may need some extra cash to show the world God's generousity. Then let's wow the world with the true love of Christ, so that the world will know we're Christians by our Love! and not our piety.

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