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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Willingness (02/21/05)

TITLE: X-Treme Love
By Debbie OConnor


"Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Ephesians 5:14b

I love Jesus. All I want is to know and love Him more.

I want to sing, dance, write, speak, give, and live for Him alone. I can’t give Him enough. I want to be in His presence every second. I want to talk about Him all day long to anyone who’ll listen. He is the first person I think of in the morning and the last person I think of at night. I am madly, excessively, extremely in love with God.

Call me a radical? Agreed. I’m a fanatic? Thanks. Call me whatever you want. I know the One I love. I am learning that His approval is all I need.

We’ve all heard the expression -- “She’s so Heavenly minded, she’s no earthly good.”
Religious “fundamentalism” is constantly in the news. Extremism is considered dangerous, particularly when it is associated with religion of any kind. Moderation is touted as the key to weight loss, happiness, peace and longevity. There may be some wisdom in moderation, but not when it comes to loving God.

While some forms of extremism are feared, in other venues extremism is celebrated. Our evening television line-up testifies to our need to push limits. X-Treme Sports, extreme makeovers, and extreme home remodeling are just a few examples. Mediocrity is boring, life-sapping, fruitless. If we cannot get beyond it in our own lives, we like to watch others get beyond it on TV.

Jesus loved us to the extreme. He said what he meant and He meant what He said. All the time in front of everyone, regardless of the cost. There was nothing cautious or moderate about Him. He was smart, though. He did what He did deliberately, at the time it should be done. It cost Him everything to love us, but He thought we were worth it.

We live in a world that deifies compromise and tolerance. Peace at any price might as well be tattooed on our foreheads. While compromise and tolerance have their places, there are things we cannot compromise and should not tolerate. Evil exists, and the church must stand up for righteousness. We are the “light of the world.” Matthew 5:14

The question is: How do we light the world?

An expert in the law once asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40

We will burn brightly for God if we are willing to do two things -- love God with reckless, wholehearted abandon, and love others as we love ourselves. The more we love God, the easier it becomes to love others. The more we love others, the more the world will see. Our light will outshine anybody or anything that tries to hide it.

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

X-Treme Love -- Christ-like love -- is sacrificial. We will pay the price, just as Jesus did. Many will call us foolish. Criticism, rejection, and ridicule will haunt us. We may have to give to our own detriment, maybe even place ourselves in danger. It will hurt. It may cost us everything, just as it did Jesus.

In the end, though many may reject us, some will believe. And we will really know our God.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Are we ready to lose our lives so we can find them? Prepared to love completely, recklessly, wholeheartedly, and fearlessly? Are we willing to stop playing it safe?

God help me, I am.


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This article has been read 1281 times
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Cheri Hardaway 02/28/05
Very inspiring! Challenges us to pray that God will make us willing in those times that we are not! God bless, Cheri
Lori Othouse 02/28/05
This is great! I love your passion and it's so true how extremism is admired except when it comes to God. Stay fanatical! God bless!
Diane Johnson02/28/05
Beautiful, beautiful. I love Jesus, yes! The Lord keeps putting before me His message to love Him with all my mind, with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my strength. Thank you for sharing your heart and love for Jesus. Great message!
Lynne Gaunt03/01/05
I loved your enthusiasm! It's evident from the opening sentence right to the end. I especially loved this part:

"The more we love God, the easier it becomes to love others. The more we love others, the more the world will see. Our light will outshine anybody or anything that tries to hide it."

Good work. Keep it up!
Joanne Malley03/04/05
This is such a deeply passionate look into how we should love and obey our Lord. When we can do that, it's much easier to be willing to follow Him. Such an honest piece that obviously came from your "willing" heart. Joanne
donna robinson03/04/05
You definitely have my respect.
Sally Hanan03/07/05
Great work here. You've managed to squish all of your love into such a small set of lines, it explodes out to the reader.
Suzanne R03/07/05
In this day of reality TV with extreme just-about-everything, we Christians really should be extreme about our love for Christ. Why is it so hard sometimes?! Thanks for the great example in this article, Debbie. And I love the way it just flows out of you - even over the internet cables!!
neil deo03/17/05
Debbie O'Connor, I read this article on your having, truly, absolutely fallen in love with our Lord, after seeing the "I See" article. You do walk the talk, girl! Alelujah. Please share your treasure with me anytime, email anytime, preach and teach anytime... as we read in Matthew 26, one has to be on guard "watch and not be tempted" by sleep, lethargy and indulgences as the apostles were at Gethsemane. Love and gratitude, neil deo