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Last week, we had an opportunity to discuss how one can communicate very effectively with very few words. I am sure the irony of me, a rather verbose individual, speaking about not needing many words to effectively communicate, was not lost on you!
A very good example of clearly communicating a very deep concept with very few words is found in the First Epistle of John.
The Apostle John had been a part of Jesus’ inner circle where he had listened, questioned and learned. Not only had he witnessed the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but he was among the last to have seen Him before His ascension.
He lived through the transition period between the old and new covenants; referred to himself as the one Jesus loved, and was given the responsibility to take care of Jesus’ mother at the cross. It is likely that he was still living when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD.
Undoubtedly, John was in a position to be able to clearly communicate the essence of God and this he did using a single word… Love (1 John 4:8).
Love, a simple sounding four letter word, has so much meaning packed into it. Most just brush past it without giving it any real consideration. How many truly understand what love is?
The Bible is a historical account of Love. Indeed, Jesus talked a lot about love and demonstrated His own love in a most profound way. We are told that “God so loved the world that He GAVE His son” (John 3:16). It is further stated that “greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). So, we know that God loved us, gave us Jesus, who in turn, not only gave His life, but instructed us to give to all.
Now, it should be obvious that not only is love not love until you give it away, but that it can only be given to animate objects, particularly people involved in some kind of relationship, whether it be incidental, casual or close.
A dear older lady once summed it up for me by stating that those who love people use things, but loving things usually leads to using people. We may like our car, home or job but we should never “love” it.
Love is the source of our greatest joy. However, unfortunately, while physical pain can be caused by most anything, emotional pain is pretty well exclusively caused by the people we love. It goes without saying that the closer a personal relationship, the deeper the pain when love is violated, destroyed or ended. Hence, the deep grief and pain when someone close to us passes away.
Yet, there is something even more painful than the death of a loved one. Aside from suicide, people do not choose death and so it does not involve rejection. Rejection involves a willful act to spurn the love one has for another. Since this is the antithesis of what God is and has for us, rejection is the cause of the most profound emotional pain we can experience.
This is why excruciating emotional pain is experienced when a lover, spouse or friend rejects us. A parent’s rejection of a child or children’s casting away of parents leads to even more profound pain.
One would think that home educators are less susceptible to familial rejection and, while there is no doubt that investing as much into the children as home educators do, will reduce the possibility of familial breakdown, there is no guarantee. And, should such a travesty take place, it is fair to say that the closer the relationship or the greater the investment, the greater the pain when rejection occurs.
Actually, perhaps home educators should consider this as instructive of what matters most in their home education program and it is not likely curricular!
I would like to close by asking you to imagine being on your deathbed with little time remaining to live. What do you think will be on your mind? I can pretty well guarantee that the stuff you “loved,” won’t be, but those you loved (or did not) will be. I believe we will be reflecting upon three things.
The first will be God, whether acknowledged or not, because we are about to enter that place where God either is or is not. In other words, we are about to find out the truth, and since this relationship is of eternal consequence, it will be high on our “list of priorities,” even if for the first time.
The second most pressing thing on our minds at that juncture in life will likely be our family. This is reflective of the deep abiding love that cannot be disconnected from the reality of common bonds.
Parents are parents, forever, and children are also. These represent the most important relationships of our lives, involving the greatest amount of love, and unfortunately, also our greatest pain, should any of these relationships have been violated in some way.
Finally, I believe we will be considering those other people in our lives that we loved and/or loved us.
All three, God, family and friends, what matters at death, represents what matters in life.
If love expressed through relationships is what matters most, we should be doing everything possible to cultivate, repair and reconcile every one of them, starting with our eternal relationship with God, followed closely by our relationships with our family members and those friends that have added meaning to our lives, while we still have the opportunity, because when time stops, it is too late.
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