The Highest Goal
Day 1: Do you have a bucket list? What kinds of things are on it? Bucket lists typically focus on once in a lifetime experiences or places we dream of visiting. If we have a bucket list, we have put thought into it. Maybe you aren’t a bucket list kind of person; but have you considered a “be” or “becoming” list? What would be on that list? What kind of person do you want to be? What would you consider your highest goal as a person? Take several minutes to think about these questions and jot down your thoughts. Our vision at LSCC is for all of us is “taking steps to know and become like Jesus.” So, maybe for you, maybe for me, our bucket list of “be” and “becoming” would include moving towards a person who intentionally and increasingly is thinking, sounding, and living more like the person of Jesus. Love is the most excellent way (1 Cor 12:31) The apostle Paul is telling us his highest goal, restating who Jesus is and how he lived, and who Jesus was emulating, God the Father. There is nothing we can discover about God, nothing we can discover about Jesus, that isn’t also loving. If we are becoming more like Jesus, we are becoming more loving. Thus, the question becomes, am I becoming more like love? If so, how and where?
Day 2: Read Mark 12:30-31.In the book Everybody, Always, Bob Goff says, “Jesus saw loving God and loving our neighbors as one inseparable mandate. They were tied for first in Jesus’ mind. He knew we couldn’t love God if we don’t love the people He surrounds us with.” Love is an action, it can be and is to be, seen. Giving love isn’t merely for those who love me or are like me. Our love is for all people: the enemy, stranger, persecutor, foreigner, the helpless and the opinionated. Love is an attitude, a posture of the heart that leads us more and more to “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” This is a foundational, fundamental part of following Jesus, being Christian, knowing and becoming more like Him. Take time to pray for those in your life who you find it difficult to love. Then, find an opportunity to go love them today even in some small way.
Day 3: Read Matt 5:44, John 15:12, 17.Jesus didn’t say it would be easy, he said it would work. When we look at the life and teachings of Jesus we see undeniable, uncontrollable, unconditional, and yes, even a reckless love. Take time today to listen to the song “Reckless Love”by Cory Asbury. As you listen to the words think about how the song describes the love of God. How this love acts. What this love looks like. This is how we are to love- as we have been loved. Am I willing to make love my highest goal? Am I willing to choose the way of love even if it could make me uncomfortable, even if it is puts me in a vulnerable place or means I will be misunderstood? When we choose to love, it changes who we are becoming.
Day 4: Read 1 Cor. 13: 1-3.What’s your “thing”? What are you good at? What do you have (or do) that is a gift to others? Maybe you’ve taken a Strengths Findertest or something equivalent. What are your strengths or gifts? Do you have a way with words? Do you have a way of seeing solutions when everyone else is bogged down in the problem? Do you comfort those who are hurting, grieving or lonely? Do you have an ability of bringing opposing views together? Write down a few of your strengths. Now insert them into these three verses and read again. Without being rooted and motivated in love, all these things cease to matter. It’s a sobering thought. Look at the gifts/strengths you wrote down. Do they matter? What are they rooted in? Is there desire for approval or recognition? Is there an agenda of some kind? Spend time in honest reflection. Pray: Father, I ask that you bring truth to me. Help me be self-aware and to look honestly at these things. Give me courage and strength, not only to see, but to change. Help me to recognize whether selfless love is present when my gifts are used. “Nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin
Day 5: Re-read I Cor. 13:1-3.When we respond, even though it may be for others, isn’t rooted in and motivated by love, it is all for nothing. On top of that, our behavior actually becomes an annoyance, an irritant and a hindrance. The descriptive words Paul uses are in effect the opposite of what the gift was intended to produce. It’s off pitch, it’s noisy, irritating. It becomes more harmful than helpful. Can I recognize when what I’m doing is off? What clues or unbecoming behaviors help me to become aware? Do I have daily and weekly patterns to self-reflect and to allow God to speak truth about my heart, my attitude, and my behaviors? Do I have people in my life (community) that through relationship can speak truth to me? To gain some inspiration consider the book “Everybody, Always: Becoming love in a world full of setbacks and difficult people”by Bob Goff as a small group. Through small group community that we have the best opportunity to flesh out becoming like Jesus, becoming love. If you aren’t in a small group, consider starting or joining one. Contact Patrick at Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org