"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
He doesn't want anyone to perish. The key word this morning is anyone.
This weekend I was reading an article about all the recent deaths in entertainment and Hollywood. The last few days have been busy in that regard, and as I was reading this article, the author said something that really tugged at my heart, and I've been thinking on it ever since. Michael Jackson was very well known the whole world over- but you know what was the most spectacular and important thing about him? Jesus Christ died for him. Jesus died specifically so that Michael Jackson could not perish, but have everlasting life.
I just don't know that I really gave much thought to Jesus dying on the cross specifically for each one of us. Maybe that just makes me late in the game, but when you really think on it, it gives a whole different perspective. And maybe, thinking this way may be the key to helping share the love of God with those around us. Think about that annoying neighbor- the one who revs his engine at 2:00 in the morning after he comes home from the bar. The one who lets the dog go to the bathroom in your yard, or the neighborhood busybody- always sharing the latest gossip. Did you know that Jesus Christ died just for them? Look at that checkout person at the grocery store. Jesus died just for her- so that she might have eternal life and eternal love. Does she know that?
Every once in a while in life we come across that person who just becomes a thorn in our side. Whether its a co-worker, family member, neighbor, boss, fellow church attendee, who knows? But there are those people, the people that you really would rather not spend time with, you simply don't get along and don't like them very much. Yet Jesus told us that we are to love everyone!
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:36-38
Loving our neighbor as ourselves can be really hard when we may not even like the person! But that's when we ask God to love them for us, and to help us love them the way He wants us to. And along the way, maybe it would help to think about them in a new light- think about the fact that Jesus died Just. For. That. Person. God knew that person before he was even born, and over two-thousand years ago sent His only son to die so that person could have the opportunity to have an eternal life. God loves that person so much, and He wants you to love that person too, and share God's love with him. Maybe you're the very person who will lead that person to Christ- maybe YOU will make the eternal difference for that very person.
We can also use this principle on a much larger scale. That rock star who flaunts his lavish lifestyle on TV and in the magazines? Yep- Jesus Christ died just for him. While we may not be in a position to personally talk with that rock star or share God's love with him, we can do the one thing we CAN and that is pray for that person. We can always pray for God's love to surround those we see in the media day in and day out. We can pray for our governmental leaders and our President because, you guessed it, Jesus died just for President Obama- that he might receive eternal life. We can pray for those reality stars who appear to be struggling, we can pray for movie writers and movie producers, actors, actresses, sports stars, anyone who comes to mind. And you know, we really should! These people are in the spotlight day in and day out, imagine how they could use that platform to share the love of Christ with others!
So the next time you catch yourself thinking about someone in a negative way, try spinning that thought in a different direction. When that annoying star catches some news attention, instead of rolling your eyes, say a prayer for them, and think about how Jesus died just for them! The next time that neighbor fires up his lawnmower just as you get the baby to sleep, think about how Jesus died just for him. This may very well be an important step in learning to follow the commandment that Jesus gave us- to love our neighbor as our self.