Kissing FROGS and Hugging PORCUPINES

One of my favorite authors, Chuck Swindoll, in his book Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes, wrote the following regarding ourselves and other’s “frogness” in life:

Floating On A Lily Pad
Floating On A Lily Pad

“FROGS feel slow and low, ugly and putty, drooped and pooped.  I know, because one told me.  The FROG FEELING comes when you want to be bright but you’re dumb.  When you want to share, you are selfish.  When you want to be thankful, but filled with resentment.  When you want to be great…but you are small.  When you want to care, but you are indifferent; yes, at one time or another, each of us has found themselves floating down the great river of life, frightened and disgusted, but to frightened to budge.” 

Scripture Reading in John 15:12-17  [Amplified Version]:

[12] This is My commandment; that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.

[13] No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.

[14] You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.

[15] I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out).  But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father.  [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]

[16] You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.

[17] This is what I command you; that you love one another.

The Fairy Tale of Endo…

In this particular Fairy Tale (and others too), the FROG wasn’t really a frog.  He looked like one because…a wicked witch cast an evil spell on a prince.  Only a kiss from a beautiful young maiden could SAVE him.  Then one day, a beautiful young girl lays a big sloppy kiss on the frog’s slimy lips, and in a great puff of smoke…he changes back into a handsome prince.  They marry, have a ton of kids, and live happily ever after. The End.

Our Task In Our Churches Across the Land Isn’t A Fairy Tale…

“Kissing Frogs and Allowing Ourselves to Be Kissed!”

Faithful Christian LOVE has a way of rescuing kings and queens and their “frogness” [i].  I believe we must do more than “wishing” we were different in our communities.

I’ve learned by practical experience, I need to be more intentional about telling others that the church I’m a part of, is a loving community!  But it will take more than just telling…it will require me to be an active “lover”.

WHY SO?

Because of the reason for the Command of Jesus (John:12a, 17).  Not once, but twice within six short verses: “love one another”.

Our Selfishness Often Gets In the Way of Loving the Brethren…

My wife and I never told our kids when they were little how to be selfish.  And yet our youngest, even at the age of four, on any given day, would have no problem taking one of his older sister’s toys away.

Israel’s neighbors haven’t a problem finding ways to torment and mistreat them, because of their hatred.  Certain things come “naturally” to fallen man–sin and selfishness in the heart.

“Use it or Lose it!”

I believe we’re NOT intentional about creating a loving environment; an accepting community, a fellowship of mutual service and sacrifice and if we don’t use what God has made available, we might just lose it.

It often seems, too many churches leave “loving one another” to chance: “I’ll let my wife LOVE ON OTHERS. I’ll stay out-of-the-way of the crowds.”

The Apostle John’s Thinking On the Matter…

Jesus’ repeating command must have made a lasting impression.  Maybe more than any other disciple, John sought to obey these words of his Master.

How revealing then, a few years later, John would write in the Letter we call, 1 John, the following:

1 John 3:14:

We know that we have passed over out of death into Life by the fact that we love the brethren (our fellow Christians).  He who does not love abides (remains, is held and kept continually) in [spiritual] death.

“NO ROOT, NO FRUIT” –

Wow!  When I meditated on that verse (read and re-read the words), God really spoke to my spirit.  John is saying, the sure sign of being “SAVED”, is a sure internal testimony of my outward profession of my faith.  If there isn’t any fruit, there isn’t an attachment to the “Vine” JESUS (John 15:1-11).

Is Loving Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus Easy?

If it were easy to LOVE those of us in the church, there would be no sign of a miraculous work of God happening in OUR midst.

If LOVE for the brethren were a natural occurrence, you wouldn’t know and have the Life of Holy Spirit permeating your souls in the loving process.

If LOVING each other was something we could do apart from prayer, humbleness, and dependence of God’s grace, then LOVE would prove nothing.

But John tells us:  “Here is a sure sermon for your own soul, a testimony that you are abiding in Christ, IF…you can love Christians!”  

Even knowing this, sometimes its hard to LOVE OTHERS in the Body of Christ:  Some are crusty, prickly and painful to be around.  It’s not simply “kissing frogs”, but “hugging porcupines.”

 JESUS COMMANDS such LOVE, otherwise, we would avoid it entirely.

Hugging Porcupines
Hugging Porcupines

GOD’S STANDARDS OF PERFECT LOVE FOR US:

“LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”  (John 15:12 b.).

JESUS loved us in giving His life.  Human relationships are strengthened when a man sacrifices for a close friend.  The Apostle Paul speaks of this LOVE in detail:

Romans 5:7-8:

[7] Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die.

[8] But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.

The Family of God and their SACRIFICES:

If SACRIFICE doesn’t cost you something, then it isn’t a sacrifice.  It cost Jesus His life because of His LOVE for us.

Beginning the conversation…the Heart & Mouth Connection.

Every family has secrets–the special stories and nicknames, ways of communicating that are unique to the closest relationships you have.  In fact, one of the ways we have to bring other people into a closer relationship, is sharing with them a special aspect of our family life.  Looking for something you might have in common: family ancestry, where you’re from originally, etc.  But you are going to have to open up heart and mouth to find something in common.  Yep, we’re going to have to get off our “lily pads”.  It probably will be uncomfortable; might even feel insecure.

JESUS’ APPOINTMENT…CHOOSING US! 

“JESUS LOVES ME [“US”], THIS I KNOW.   FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.”  

Jesus loves us by choosing and appointing us to bring God the glory in the world and through the FRUIT that we are to bear.

Everyone with young children, or in my case, grandchildren, knows frustration comes in helping them to do something; we’re tempted to say, “It’s easier to do it myself.”

I’ve thought at times, out of frustration, regarding the need for evangelism in Whatcom County.  God could have found a much easier way to communicate the message other than the local churches.  But of course, that isn’t His plan.

God’s Plan for His Church…

But JESUS loves us, appointed us to bear fruit in this place…at this time.  With this LOVE STANDARD as our active goal…not another “church program”, but an individual goal, create opportunities to develop and demonstrate LOVE to one another.

Many conservative churches preach “LOVE YOUR WIFE AS CHRIST LOVES HIS CHURCH–and that’s a clear biblical command.  But rarely do we talk about loving “fellow believers” as Christ loved the church.  Yet here in this passage of Scripture, JESUS says, “THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT”–this is My PLAN!

There is POWER available for LOVING one another…

JESUS has made known to us the church, the Word of God is His will for our lives.  It’s not complicated.  It’s NOT a family secret.  It is a crystal clear commandment in the Bible.  And the Word of God is LIVING & ACTIVE; it doesn’t simply just urge us to do something (enjoin), it EMPOWERS US!

GOD’S WORD BECAME FLESH:

“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself” (John 1:1).

“And the Word (Jesus) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth”  (John 1:14).

JESUS HIMSELF chose us to bear fruit and Jesus is God in human flesh; He doesn’t fail.

When He commands LOVE, He also guarantees its fulfillment.

Sitting On A Lily Pad As It Floats Down the River…

With JESUS on our side, we must succeed in transforming our churches into a visibly loving and caring community.  We’re going to have to get off our “Lily Pads” ; show our community we care!

Being the peruvial LIGHTHOUSE…where the building with our name on a large out-front sign…where everyone who drives by will see and want to come in to worship is sitting on a LILY PAD.  They’re “wish-in and a hope-in” the surrounding community will see the Light.

If we want to be a LIGHTHOUSE to our community, we will need to be “moving Lighthouses”, not stationary structures.  People need to see how we LOVE one another; with FRUIT-BEARING branches and God’s Light shinning on the fruit.

Last but not least…

We have our words; our prayers.  Whatever we ask the Father in Jesus’ name, He gives.  When we pray for grace (favor)  to LOVE…even some other FROGS…God will show Himself strong and powerful answering that prayer.

Now go out and Kiss A FROG, maybe even Hug A PORCUPINE or two, and know that Holy Spirit will be there to comfort you:

John 15:26, 27 AMP.:

[26] When the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes,  Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth  Who comes (proceeds) from the Father,  He [Himself] will testify regarding Me.

[27] But you also will testify and be My witnesses,  because you have been with Me from the beginning.

 

Footnote: [i] Glenn Durham, Pastor at Church of the Covenant.