There are times when I can be a real schmuck. It usually happens when I operate and react from my emotions, and my perceptions, instead of allowing God’s Agape love to steer the wheel. It is those times when I allow God to be my “co-pilot”, instead of Lord of my life. Every time I take the wheel I end up in Schmuckville, planting a garden full of bad seeds, and reaping a harvest of stink weeds. Circumstances and emotions can skew good decisions, leaving you in an unhealthy place, even if it is a short visit.
Yet, while in Schmuckville, I was not alone. In fact, God was there with me, preparing a way home. The Greek word for God’s kind of love is agape. His love is unconditional and even sacrificial, and an example of Agape love is described in Romans 5:6-8(MSG). “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” So, Agape love gives and sacrifices expecting nothing in return.
Schmuckville often sits at a high elevation, and from its lofty perch we learn another important lesson about Agape love. In Luke 10:23-37 we hear the story, the parable, of the Good Samaritan. The story begins with a question, “Who is my neighbor?” On their way back home, two significant, religious types come upon a robbed and beaten stranger by the road. After swift deliberation, and studying the rule book, each individually ascertains it best to keep moving. Finally, a Samaritan, the lowest of lows on the food chain, stops and cares for the man. He takes him to an Inn and pays for his care; not from a government grant, or the benevolence fund, his own pocket.
Proverbs 4:23 (GNV) reminds us to “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” Instead of looking to the left, or to the right, just look in the mirror. Everything we do emotionally, physically and spiritually flows directly from our heart. Our thoughts and beliefs impact our heart, as even made up stories, lies or half- truths, will become reality to us if we have steered away from God. How are your thoughts and actions demonstrating God’s love?
If we have chosen to live in Schmuckville, we easily pick and choose who we are going to love. We are operating out of a rebellious heart. In Schmuckville we have tantrums, demand our way, and beg attention for the tiniest act of kindness. These types of childish behavior are in direct opposition to Agape love. No matter how the world sees things, if our thoughts are not reframed and in alignment with God and his ways, Schmuckville here we come!
We can also be driven off course by the way we feel about another person, the way we feel about our self, or the realization the motives and intentions of another are not as noble as originally perceived. Perhaps you were stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a trusted friend or someone you loved. When this happens, and it does happen, we can become distracted, hurt and lose our awareness of who we are in Christ. Everyone messes up, the thing is; how are you going to handle the clean up? It is not too late to mend the brokenness and repair the relationship, but the only way is by demonstrating God’s Agape love. God helps us forgive ourselves and others. After all, if God can love a schmuck like me, shouldn’t I love other schmucks and forgive them of their mess ups?
1 John 3:20-24 (MSG) talks about practicing real love. “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.”
While we were still schmucks, Jesus came and saved us. It is my hope when people look at us they say “There goes a Christian,” not because we go to Church, or write a column, or teach faith based fitness classes, but because we demonstrate the love of Christ and remind you of Him. That is my hope for all of us.