Tag Archives: Christ’s love

Unselfish Love: A Real Gift That Matters

Uh oh. It seems that the date for this column should probably indicate its content. Rats! If the whole thing reads like it was written by a Valentine’s Day grinch, I should just plead guilty.

It’s almost certainly good for husbands like me to have a deadline that calls for something on the order of flowers, gifts, candy, seriously over-priced cards, etc. I have difficulty appreciating the Madison Avenue manipulation, but I don’t doubt that clods like me need the shove.

It’s not particularly what the pseudo-holiday has turned into that bugs me; what really bothers me is the reminder that so much in our society that masquerades in second-rate song lyrics and steamy TV as “luuuuuv” bears no resemblance to the real thing.

I listened as a famous singer on a TV morning show opined that he and his wife had just split up because “the sparkle wasn’t there anymore.” He was way past fifteen, so “puppy love” was no excuse. He evidently had actually believed too many of his own songs and was confusing love with “warm fuzzies” and body heat, the kind of “luuuuv” that bears precious little resemblance to genuine commitment that really means “in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer.” The love god was originally an old Greek one, Eros, as Sheldon Vanauken (“The False Sanction or Eros”), C. S. Lewis, and I’m sure others, have noted. Eros has never lacked for worshipers.

Bowing before this god, our society has unleashed a demon who offers easy sanction for anyone wishing to commit almost any wrong, shatter any vow, break faith with God and society, and, in the sordid process, break the hearts of countless spouses and children. And the “luuuuv” god blesses the whole mess brought on by unvarnished selfishness.

How does our society respond? When we should turn away in nausea or shed tears, we turn to tabloids and gossip magazines that glamorize the carnage.

God help us to be both wise and merciful. When we fail in our marriages to love as we should—and we fail often—may we turn contrite hearts to our spouses and our God as we seek his grace and seek renewed power to share with each other our Lord’s genuine mercy and forgiveness and love. If we can’t share those things with our mates, I doubt that what we’ll share with others will be worth very much.

Oh, and let’s be merciful, too, to those who have fallen and failed seriously in this regard, and whose genuine sorrow shows that they know it, lest we find ourselves looking down our noses when we need to look inside and realize that we too are totally dependent upon mercy and grace every moment.

Fellows, you really ought to invest in a card and maybe some flowers or candy, too. (My wife prefers cash.) But your gift will mean a whole lot more if your beloved knows that behind it is the kind of genuine, unselfish love that helps with dishes and diaper-changing before it forks over the flowers.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! 

 

 

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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That God Loves Ordinary People Is Extraordinary Indeed!

God loves ordinary people, and that is one of the most amazing and hope-filled truths of the Christian faith.

It is a truth no other world religion is strong enough to handle. What kind of God would so lower himself?

It is a truth that religion of the self-centered, do-it-yourself, toxic type, as opposed to that which focuses on a real relationship with God, can hardly afford to consider lest its true colors show.

God loves ordinary people.

That frightening truth was Exhibit A in the Pharisees’ case against Jesus. Pharisees are hard people to make happy. As Jesus noted, “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’” (Matthew 11:18-19).

Maybe we still find the Lord’s choice of friends a bit troubling. We worry about his reputation.

We shouldn’t.

I don’t believe Christ was a glutton. But I’m glad he evidently enjoyed good food as one of God’s excellent gifts.

I don’t believe he was a drunkard, but I’m glad that when the time came to make wine, Christ made the best and shared it as a good gift from God.

I doubt it’s the Almighty who is in question when we catch ourselves being “nicer” or more scrupulous than God.

Did you hear about the old gentleman who, when he learned that Jesus turned water into wine, said, “Well, the Bible says he did, and so I believe it, but I’d have thought more of him if he hadn’t.” (Hmm. Maybe that’s why the hallmark of some misguided “religion” is that it spends so much time trying to turn wine back into water. To change the metaphor, it’s far more comfortable with cold tables of stone than with the living Spirit of God.)

Similarly, I suppose we can make allowances for Christ’s choice of companions. The Pharisees once scowled and pointed to a party that took place when Jesus was calling Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle. He had to go where Matthew was, right? Even if he wasn’t comfortable there, right?

Well, yes. So the Lord has a good excuse. We can be okay with Christ eating and drinking with “sinners” as long as he doesn’t enjoy it, right?

I could be wrong, but I’m afraid the truth is far more scandalous—and wonderful—than that. I’m afraid the Pharisees, wrong as they were, were right: God not only loves ordinary folks, he likes them! He actually prefers their company to that of the “high and holy.” What kind of God is that?!

If that is true, and if God is completely good, then genuine “goodness” is not the cold and scrupulous, thin and sterile, thing many folks, religious or not, have often thought it to be.

Maybe real goodness is not all about “Do this, but don’t do this,” the kind of rules that keep religious folks feeling religious and non-religious folks glad they aren’t religious.

Maybe the real purity and holiness God wants is something far deeper than either group thinks. Maybe real goodness is deep and full and rich, filled to the brim with joy and life, the very life of God, and a person truly in love with God is filled up with the wine of God’s genuine joy in a way that folks truly in love just with themselves as they center either on their “religion” or on their own earthly appetites and desires, can never be.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


“He Was Gathered to His People, Old and Full of Years”

 

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What my wife had in mind, a long time ago now, was simply to collect and display some old family photographs. Specifically, she wanted me to scan an old photograph of my maternal grandparents, a little picture that has long sat on a shelf in my study at the church. So I did.

I knew I’d had that little framed photo for a very long time, but I’d forgotten just how long. When I carefully pulled it out of its frame to place it on the scanner, I noticed the handwritten inscription on the back of the picture. I recognized the distinctive hand immediately. It was Grandmother Key’s writing, for sure.

“To Curtis Kline, 1965. Granddaddy and Grandmother Key.”

One look at that script launched me on a trip down Memory Lane. I remembered my little grandmother’s gentle but raspy voice and how she always called me “Curtis Kline.”

You know how names work. They morph a bit. To a couple of brothers and a few friends, I’m “Curt.” To some of my larger family, I’m “C. K.” And I come to “Curtis” just fine.

But to Grandmother Key, I was always “Curtis Kline.” And, as I saw that fountain-penned script, I could almost hear Grandmother saying to my mother, “This is for Curtis Kline for Christmas, and here’s one for Jimmy.”

You see, I’m pretty sure my younger brother Jim got one, too. And I’m sure his would be inscribed to “Jimmy.”

Looking closely at that picture, I was also struck by the fact that, though I’ve always looked something like Granddaddy Key, the resemblance is definitely increasing. The mouth. The eyes. Well, the whole face.

And, yes, increasingly, the white hair! I never knew his hair to be any other color. He had all of his hair, thick and full, but he ran out of pigment early. For as long as I remember, Granddaddy’s hair was snowy white cotton.

Granddaddy ranched and trucked all of his life. He died in 1975. Six years later, in 1981, Grandmother followed. But Grandmother and Granddaddy don’t seem that long gone. They’re still a big part of who I am every day.

I’ve always sort of liked the way the writers of some books of the Old Testament, after they’ve told the story of someone’s life, will say something like this: “And he was gathered to his people.” Sometimes they add this further description: “old and full of years.”

I don’t think I’m all that old yet. I will admit that claiming to be “middle-aged” is becoming a little tougher than it once was. I’m 58 now. It could be the middle, I suppose, but I very much doubt I’ll make it to 116. At least, with all of my heart, I hope not. Enough really is enough, and I’m looking forward to something much better.

I’ll admit it! I’m in the process of filling up with years, but I don’t think I’m quite full just yet.

But, you know, being “gathered to my people,” in God’s good time, strikes me as not at all a bad thing.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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