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Life Notes

Love Believes All Things

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things… 1 Corinthians 13:4-7b

In my late teens I dreamed of being a solo performer. Folksingers who told stories, played guitar, and sang astounded me. I was certain that was my destiny. I spent countless hours learning my favorite songs and practicing them repeatedly. When I felt ready, I met with the owner of the club I had chosen for my debut. Her name was Elizabeth Dring, and her club was The Windjammer. She booked me for a single night. To say my performance was terrible that night is a vast understatement. I was embarrassed, and I decided to give up on my folksinger dreams. Three days later, Elizabeth called to schedule more dates. I was stunned. I told her I was awful and was quitting. She said, “You were nervous, but you have talent. You’ll get over the nervousness.” She believed in me, and I have performed with my guitar – alone and with bands – for over four decades now.

There is no value we can place on one who believes in us. There are few gifts more loving than our belief in another’s inherent goodness and ability. Those who see through the surface to the core of a person have an amazing skill. Elizabeth Dring believed in me, and my life changed as a result. Paul writes that love believes all things. Goethe says our beliefs shape us. In a similar way, our expressed beliefs about others shape them, in both positive and negative ways. We shape others not in our own likeness, but in a way most becoming of who they truly are. In many accounts of Jesus’ healings, he explains, “Your faith (belief) has made you well.” Belief has power. When we believe in another, when we see beyond their uncertainty, we give a gift of love they may never receive from anybody else. It is as if God uses us to speak truth to another.

Of course, the realist in me feels obliged to add that no matter how strongly others and I believe I will become a professional sports star, it simply is not going to happen. That belief is incongruous with who and what I am. It also serves no ideal other than my own ego. Desiring to become something inconsistent with our inner nature is like trying to trim a plant created to grow round into a square shrub – we may force it into an uneasy square for a time, but it will always strive to regain its roundness. It is when our belief in ourselves, and the belief of others, meshes with the way we were wired at birth that magic will manifest. Believing in another is a vital part of any loving relationship.

Let us make 2016 the year of love, as love was meant to be.

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Life Notes—February 21, 2013 

“So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Mark 11:24

Each of the four Gospels documents many instances of Jesus healing the sick.  It was a primary manifestation of his ministry and drew crowds wherever he went.  We read of the healing of paralysis, leprosy, hemorrhaging, fevers and the like, as well as the eradication of demons—likely what we call mental illnesses today.  Heck, Jesus even raised a number of people from the dead.  From what we read, there was no illness or condition on earth Jesus could not cure.  Knowing his earthly time was limited, Jesus gave power to his disciples to heal the sick and commanded them to do so.  When they had difficulty with certain conditions he called them out for their lack of faith.

Jesus considered these healings faith events, saying, “Your faith has made you well.”  If healing was a primary manifestation of Jesus’ ministry, faith was the conduit through which the healing occurred.  Clearly, there was a connection between a person’s faith and the healing power of Jesus.  Jesus often referred to the unlimited power of faithful prayer, as above: “whatever you ask for in prayer…believe…and it will be yours.”

Sometimes I wonder if our faith has become diluted and divided in unhealthy, unnatural and unpowerful ways.  Our currency reads, “In God We Trust,” but do we?  Most of us have faith in health professionals, and they perform amazing works for the sick through modern medicine.  But there are limits to what they can heal.  So, my question is this: When we reach the healing limits of our medical system, do we have sufficient faith in Christ to heal?  There are religions, today, who shun the medical system in favor of faith healing; and most of us look on them with suspicion, at best. Should we?  Yet, we cannot treat faith as if it had an on-off switch.  It is a dynamic manifestation of our relationship to God through Christ.  A strong and living faith is a process, and I wish I knew how to get from where I am to where that is, quickly and easily. But I do not.  Many of us turn to heart-felt prayer whenever we or others are sick, but is our faith placed in God or in medicine?  Does believing in one reduce the focus of our belief in, and the power of the other?  If you’ve read this far hoping to find an answer, you will be disappointed.  There are many difficult questions we must wrestle with, as Christians, and these are among them.  But one constant remains—our world needs healing.

This Sunday is the second Sunday of Lent.  Tom is preaching downtown, where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch preaches at the west campus where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00. The sermon is “Give Up Harsh, Condemning Judgments for Lent,” based on Matthew 7:1-5

Come home to church this Sunday.  Explore the mysteries of faith with your fellow seekers.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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