Loving God 101, Part 9: Being Where Jesus Already Is (Charity)

Love is learned by experience. I often think of it as osmosis – absorbing from the environment. In other words, if we want to love, we must begin by being regularly in the presence of love to let it have its effect on us.

Understanding this has many implications for the relationships we form, the communities to which we pledge our allegiance, how we spend our time…  And, in particular, it explains how we are to think of spiritual disciplines and exercises: they are there to help put us in God’s presence (and using them for other purposes – e.g., to be pleasing to God – is both foolish and useless!).

As we continue our reflection on growing to maturity in Christ – intimately connecting to discerning God’s “voice” in our lives – we look in this episode at the “discipline” (you know I don’t love that word) of “service to others” (I don’t love that phrase either).  In classical terms (which I much prefer!) it is known as charity (from the Latin  caritas  – which was used to translate the Greek agape (= “love”‘/”compassion” in the New Testament).  

The idea is quite simple:  One thing we know for sure is that Jesus is forever in the business of charity/compassion (see all the miracles of healing in the gospels). Just because Jesus has risen, does not mean he has stopped his work!  Rather, by means of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is continually engaged in the process of restoring God’s broken world.  And if we want to be in his presence – to be in Love’s presence – one sure and certain place we know Jesus will be is in caring for people in need.

In short:  If we want to be transformed by the love of God, we have to be near God.  And if we are looking for God, we need look no further than joining in the care of others.


This is a sermon that was originally presented at Canvas (a Presbyterian church in Irvine, CA), March 8, 2015. To learn more about Canvas, click here!

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