Loving God, etc.

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BY THE REV. CORY L. KEMP |

What do you believe?  When do you feel most faithful?

We church folks tend to focus on believing and acting in faith that God is working with us according to God’s will. It’s a good practice, to pay attention to what you believe as a Christian, to trust yourself and God in living your life by those beliefs.  Faithfulness over time creates a life well-lived, satisfying for you and those you serve in your way. Beliefs and faith in God are so incredibly important, aren’t they?

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And yet, we are called, first and foremost, to love.

Marcus Borg, theologian and author of Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most, reminded me of the two most important commandments with which God has entrusted each one of us who call ourselves Christians.  They are as familiar to you as they are to me, and I’d like to share them with you again here as Jesus shared them with his disciples:

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

Borg’s last chapter of Convictions focused so beautifully on what it means to love God, how we can do this every day. And, by natural extension, our expression of love for God becomes love in action for other people, and for ourselves.  

So, how do you love God?

First, ask yourself how you feel about God.  

A little obvious, I know, but love is a feeling, a tangible human feeling that makes you want to spend time with the object of your affection.  When you love someone, you may feel a little excited at the thought of unexpectedly seeing him, or you may catch yourself smiling as the thought of her crosses your mind.

So, how do you feel about God?  Do you feel happy, delighted knowing God’s presence in your life?  Do you light up inside at the thought of catching a glimpse of God in a place you don’t expect? Consider that for a few moments.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash   

Next, ask yourself what you like to do with God when you spend time together.  

When you love someone, you want to spend time with them, being together and doing what you enjoy.  Borg mentions devotional time, meditation, prayer, singing, reading scripture and retreats as ways we can spend time with God.  You may have participated in some or all of these activities with God over the years of your life.

But you may not have thought of them as expressions of your desire to share time with God because you love God and love being with God.  You may also have a few great ideas of your own to share about ways you and God spend time together.  When you spend time, consciously, with God, you get to know God better and better, which makes love grow.  

Last, Borg reminded me that loving God means loving what God loves.  

What do you believe God loves?  The second commandment tells us: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  God loves your neighbor and God loves you. In Jesus’ teaching, preaching, healing and mentoring of his disciples, God revealed what loving our neighbors, each other, looks like: compassion, freedom and courage, gratitude.  All of these are expressions of what God loves.

How do you feel about your neighbors?  Do you spend time with them, getting to know them better? Neighbors by another name are simply people with whom you share the planet.  People you live next door to, across town, the state, the country, the world from, are all people you have opportunity to love and spend time getting to know better.  Learning about other people’s lives is an expression of the love God has for you and me, and for all our neighbors. It is also easier to feel compassion for those with whom you do not agree, but have come to understand.

How do you feel about yourself?  How do you express love for yourself? Do you spend time with you?  Spending time with yourself is time well-spent, a spiritual practice of honoring the unique creation of God’s love that is your life. When you choose to be with yourself, do what you enjoy doing, you are loving yourself with a freedom and courage built into you by God’s ever-present, creative, powerful love for you.  

And, whenever you love your neighbor, whenever you love yourself, you are saying, thank you, God, for loving me.   

The brilliant artist, Georgia O’Keefe, known best for the flowers she pained, once said of her success, “In a way, nobody sees a flower, really.  It is so small, we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

Loving God takes time too.  You may believe you don’t have time, and that God knows your love is real.  But neglected love changes things, and before you know it, you have changed too.  You’ve lost track of what meant so much to you. Your life is emptied of what mattered to you most.  And, you may have forgotten who you are too.

So, how do you feel about God?


Cory Kimp

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom and joy.


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Was That Said in Love?

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BY AMY LINVILLE |

“Was that said in love?” I ask in an attempt to bring a sense of lightheartedness to the situation and cease a quarrel between two campers. I know it’s cheesy, but you can only ask them to stop and behave so many times, and it’s a long week. Most of the time, it serves only to bring laughter. But in reality, I hope that this phrase occasionally slips into the mind of the campers as they prepare for bed, reflect during small group, or play “knock-out” on the slab. And the more I hope it for the kids at camp, the more I hope this thought slips into the minds of friends, family, and myself at home.

magnifying glass

I like words. I like to analyze words, study the history of words, search for context of words, and ponder for hours over word choice. I know that most people might not spend as much energy on these pursuits as I do, but I receive a great deal of fulfillment in trying to understand from where our words come. Our words and actions are rooted in our thoughts and emotions. Each piece gives away how we think, process, and feel. The things we say and do offer glimpses into our physical, spiritual, and mental states. My husband knows that many of my words said in anger can originate in hunger (hanger is dangerous and not to be taken lightly). I know that a young camper’s tears and pleading phrases can often come from a place of fear; being away from home for the first time is scary. Perhaps those we see spreading hateful words are really confused, afraid, and maybe a little hangry. Many days, it takes effort and pause for me to ensure that my words are coming from a place of love. I have to be mindful about it.

So, what does it mean to speak, and even act, from a place of love? We all know that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians, 4-7. NIV). This passage from the Bible is probably one of the most quoted, but I know it is not enacted nearly as frequently. To come from a place of love would require patience and a yearning to understand and listen. It would necessitate us to put aside the vanities to which we cling not out of false humility or even a sense of obligation, but from a true desire to care for our whole communities. If the things we said and did were rooted love, would we give up on others? Would we give up on ourselves?

heart tree picture

At camp this past week, we discussed at length how we reflect God’s loves in our words and deeds: feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick and imprisoned. I saw the campers reflect God’s love when they laughed with each other, cared for their bodies by going to bed when tired (my favorite thing for campers to do!), spoke kindly to each other, and respected God’s creation. I saw them trying each day to come to the world from a place of love. As the week went on, I asked fewer and fewer campers “Was that said in love?”. I heard, saw, and felt the love in their actions and words. I know it took effort for everyone to pause and work to find that place of love. It’s not easy, but Corinthians doesn’t tell us that love is easy. It tells us that love never fails. Words and actions in love, will never fail to bring us closer to God.

In today’s political, socioeconomic, church, and even weather climate (does this heat make anyone else grumpy?), it becomes ever more important to keep love at the forefront of our thoughts. As we prepare for our Southern Province Synod in less than a year, I hope we can let love guide us. We cannot always say and do the right things, but we can try each day to speak and act in love. Even on the days when we do not like others or ourselves, God has called us to love.


Questions? Comments? Contact Amy Linville at Amy@MoravianBCM.org or call (336) 722-8126 Ext. 404

Amy Linville

Amy Linville is the Interim College Age Ministry Coordinator for the Moravian BCM. She spends her time outside of work taking classes to become a librarian, serving Rural Hall Moravian with her husband the Rev. Aaron Linville, and snuggling her puppy and two cats.