Dec. 3, 2019 It’s Advent and I Want to Encourage You
Encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:11
In many of Paul’s writings – he emphasized encouragement; building up one another in the body of Christ. John, the gospel writer draws our attention to Jesus’ words: “A new commandment I give you – love one another as I have loved you.”
This idea of encouraging one another is paramount to our understanding of the Great Commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind – and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we truly love our neighbors – we will want to encourage them, build them up, stand by them, and love them. This is the true image of Body of Christ.
Many years ago, in my early pastoral ministry, I began to use a phrase that I probably repeated in some form or fashion every Sunday in worship: "God loves you as though you were the only one in the world to love and that makes you a very special person."
And this is the truth of the Gospel that we should hear over and over again. We are loved in a unique way by Almighty God. What a great message! If people could, as little children, embrace that truth, the Christian walk would come so much easier for them. When we struggle with that truth, faith always seems difficult.
What about you? Do you understand that God loves you as though you were the only person in all the world to love? He loves you to that degree. He really does.
The battles you engage in are His battles. The circumstances you face are familiar to Him. The burdens you bear may be placed on His shoulders with His permission. The weapons formed against you are, in a real sense, formed against Him, and they will not prosper. You are more than a conqueror and absolutely nothing can or will ever separate you from God’s love or care.
So often, under the pressure and microscope of life, we feel we must "make it work" or else. Not so! You belong to the kingdom of God. He called you out from the world. He guides each step you take, and we must never forget that.
So many influences in the world would like to discourage us by getting us to believe we are simply "one in a billion." Don't ever believe that, my friend ... you are the one that God loves as though you were the only one. God's love for you is the greatest love story ever written ... and it was written just for you.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called the children of God and that my friends – is what we are!" ~ 1 John 3:1
Fr. Michael Tinnon+