August 15, 2011

Jesus said to her, “I
Am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me, even though they
die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do
you believe this?

John 11: 25 & 26 NRSV

 

August 15, 2011

Non Christians have a very hard time with the above verses. They claim those verses are very exclusive. Through the years I have tried to explain to them that it is just the opposite. Jesus’ statement is inclusive and it is the person’s prerogative to be included or not. Jesus allows such freedom because He does not want robots but believers who love Him in Spirit and Truth. So He gives us this freedom to accept Him or not and when someone chooses not to accept Him they then accuse Him of being exclusive. I guess then they can blame Him for excluding them, instead of facing the fact that they rejected Him.

The other night as Gary and I sat together at Marionjoy we read the Bible and prayed. As we prayed I thanked God for Gary and for his recovery so far and I asked the Lord to continue to heal my husband. Then when done I looked Gary in those beautiful blue eyes of his and I said, ‘Gary if God does not heal you, should you stay just as you are today. I love you with all of my heart and I will be with you until the day God separates us by death. I do not love you for who you once were, or who I thought you might become. I
love you for who you are right now in this moment with me. Do you believe that Gary?”  Then my husband laid his head in my arms and cried and he said, “I know that now.”

It has to be very frightening to wake up in a hospital unable to talk, walk, move your arms, and be heavily medicated. Tubes down your throat, IV’s in your arms. Machines beeping all around you and the last thing
you remember is kissing your wife good night. Then you learn that recovery is going to be slow. Gary is a very intelligent man and he raised a handicapped daughter by himself. Certainly he understands better than the rest of us the heavy toll of taking care of someone who cannot take care of themselves. Perhaps he even wondered who would take care of him, wanting it to be me but fear and doubt crept up into his soul and scared him. We discussed this thoroughly that night and Gary no longer has this fear but I would like to
share with you how that fear starts and many of you can relate.

There are a lot of families that love but love conditionally. Mine was not one of them. I come from a very big and loving Italian family. When I met Gary I told him that my family would love him. He looked at me and asked, “How do you know they will love me?” I told him, “They will love you just because you love me and I love you.” He learned that night I spoke the truth. My family is a very inclusive family. We love because God
first loved us. We love because love is a choice and we choose love over hate at all times. We love because Jesus tells us to love and we obey Jesus. We love and forgive and love some more. We can make one another mad, we tell each other like it is and we end the argument with, “I love you.” I love my children and
grandchildren so much that I allow holiday parties to be with my ex husband so that we can celebrate them together as a family. I love so much that each and everyone one of my ex husbands family is still my family. This was all new to Gary and once he got used to it he was thrilled to be a part of me and my family. If you came from a family that is inclusive like mine, consider yourself blessed. Blessed because now you have experienced on earth how the Father loves. This is just a small example and it will be magnified and
glorified once in heaven. You understand how a family can and is inclusive; including God’s family.

What we do struggle with is those who refuse to be included in our family and then hate us or blame us for being inclusive and call us exclusive.  The same as the non Christians do with Jesus. When Gary and I first met I will admit that we fell instantly in love. We enjoyed one another and spent a lot of time with each
other. We did a lot of activities by ourselves. We did a lot of activities with Gary’s daughter because she was still living with him (at the time)  and we didn’t always have someone who could stay with her, so she came along. We did a lot with my children because they were busy having babies and keeping us busy. I saw my siblings less but we kept in contact and met whenever we could. Still we were accused of being exclusive
and not by my family.

We tried to include those who felt excluded. We did the whole invited to dinner, invited out to dinner and then waited for us to be invited back. We are still waiting. The funny thing about people who accuse you of being exclusive is that they go out of their way to exclude you. They don’t send cards, they don’t call, they don’t acknowledge, they don’t respond. Then they blame you for their hateful actions.

This is why I believe Gary feared what would become of us. I told Gary when I first said I love you to him that I love unconditionally. I learned that type of love through Jesus and my family. Gary is now seeing what unconditional love looks like. Unconditional love is the love Jesus has for all of us. This is why His statement is inclusive. He loves and wants us all to be with Him. He gives us the choice to be included.

Unconditional love:

Celebrates who you are

Remembers you and your special days

Loves who you love because they love you

Loves you more than they love themselves

This is the type of love Jesus has for us. This is the type of love Jesus wants us to have for others. Not just our spouses but for all the people in our lives. Jesus does not want us to love someone just because they
do what we want them to do. Jesus wants us to love others as who they are, because that is how Jesus loves us.

If you are refusing to love someone because they are not doing what you want them to do, I pray right now in the name of Jesus that you will stop putting your own disappoint and anger in front of the person you love and learn to just accept them as they are and love them for who they are. This is how Jesus loves you and this is how Jesus commands you to love others. This I do pray for you in the name of Jesus Amen

 

In His love

Michele

 

 

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