Friday, October 21, 2005

Institutionalized Love

In actuality, if we're being real with ourselves---every last one of us, from the oldest to the youngest, the strongest to the weakest, the most mature to the most immature—and everyone right in between---- we are all guilty of being stingy with the gifts and talents God has given us, we are all guilty of holding on to the things God has blessed us with and keeping them to ourselves, we are all guilty of not walking in the blessings God has for us, we are all guilty of saying "I love you" with no feeling, no meaning, no purpose, and not much thought. We've been institutionalized!

Some of us have old school habits, old beliefs, and out dated opinions, that we know we need to get rid of. Some of us have people in our lives, co-workers, neighbors, friends, family—that we know we don't act right around, who don't mean us good, but we fake like we love them anyway! EVEN, some of us have become so dependant on earthly love and alleged affection from friends, romance, or entertainment sources, that we have allowed ourselves to cheat one another and somebody else----telling somebody it's ok, when it wasn't, telling ourselves, it won't happen again, and it does, telling somebody I'll pray for you, and we don't, or even worse, telling somebody "God be with you," when you know you felt like saying something else.

Institutionalized Love is a love based on habit, based on thoughtlessness, based on words and not action, based on fear and constraints on change. But, we know love without manifestation is not authentic. For those of us not tithing, I'm going to say that again---love without manifestation is not authentic. Our challenge, then, is to keep our love fresh. Sermons, for example, are to speak to the heart, not to bathe in agreement and Amens. There is always a goal with a sermon—the goal is for you to leave better than you came—for your daily walk to be changed by the Word---just like the Bible was never intended to be separated into verses and chapters, sermons are not intended to be a habitual form of practiced concepts.

Fresh love is the opposite of institutionalized love.

Fresh love does a few things: it keeps your mind away from human error of judgment, for example, where we're too stubborn to go to church school because we think we have nothing new to learn. Fresh love keeps our attitude positive, where we recognize "I have only made it this far by God's twins grace and mercy!" Fresh love keeps us in the spirit of learning, understanding that Christianity is a fluid religion that depends on personal growth of its believers to thrive and flourish.

So, admit it, trying to be a Christian is hard, as we learned in the parable of the three servants. We are not yet Christ-like---that's a battle we try to win daily, praying and hoping one day the war we will win also. We don't get the Christian thing right half of the time. We forget that we are holy—that we are set apart from the rest. We forget that going to church is not enough, we forget that saying "I love you Lord" without manifestation doesn't cut it, we for get that spiritual bondage will not break us free. But, we have today, been given an opportunity!

It's time to cash that check of blessings God has waiting for you in His storehouse! It's time to understand God's love is tough---not easy. The glory of the Lord is knowing that His love is authentic. Ja Rule might say pain is love, Usher might say love was here, and the artist Nazareth might say love hurts, love scars, love wounds, but Kanye West says Jesus Rocks! Knowing that He's your bright and morning star, knowing that He's your wonderful counselor, your prince of peace. He's your lilly of the valley---you know that kind of commercial love is not fresh, is not genuine, is not authentic, it is not of God. The true manifestation of love to God and from God is up to you, not the critics.

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