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How Often Do We Trouble Ourselves
In one of the books of the Old Testament, God says (through Jeremiah), “This is what I have against you — that you have not troubled yourself on my behalf.”
I believe that God yearns to have an intense and even romantic relationship with each one of us. After all, Jesus came here looking for his “Bride.” And one of the main elements of romance is the trouble the romancer goes to on behalf of the romancee. Hiring mariachi bands to sing beneath balconies, sky-writing “Ellen, will you marry me?” sending a dozen roses after each week’s anniversary are all actions that show that someone went to a lot of trouble to demonstrate love and affection. Yet so often we treat God like that lonely housewife who is supposed to know her husband loves her simply because he eats her cooking.
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“God was said to have loved King. David so much because David loved God back totally, intensely, and passionately. What are the Psalms, really, but love songs to God? David and Jonathan were friends who went out of their way to show love for one another. Naomi and Ruth demonstrated a love between women that was so strong they were willing to be uprooted on the other’s behalf. In fact, it is their “vows” that are often repeated in traditional weddings today: “Whither thou goest, I will go. Thy people will be my people. Whither thou liest, I also will lie. And where you are buried, I also will be buried. …”
I believe if we look closely at all the biblical heroes and heroines, the common thread is simply that they troubled themselves on God’s behalf.
If you think that God isn’t interested or doesn’t need our spontaneous and personal display of affection, then you haven’t read the Song of Solomon or the story about Mary Magdalene when she poured precious ointment over Jesus’ feet. He was so touched by her expensive and expansive display of affection that he decreed her act of love would be told wherever his story was told. Jesus himself needed to hear people declare their feelings for him — out loud. “Do you love me, Peter?” was an honest and sincere question from a waiting heart.
The way we can show our love for God does not require any elaborate formula. Jesus outlined it quite clearly. “If you have done it for any of these, even the least of these my people, you have done it unto me.” Forget the fancy ceremonies … loud prayers in the marketplace … showy checks written out on TV. Jesus said the way to show you love God is to treat every soul you meet as if she or he were the very own child of God. He said even if we bring someone a glass of water, we will not lose our reward.
I once met a woman who owns a phenomenally successful executive recruiting company. When I asked her what her secret was, she said, “It’s simple. Whenever the phone rings, I say to myself, ‘That’s God on the line,’ and then I think about all the ways I can serve that person. …”
If we have become a people of mediocrity, it is because we have stopped troubling ourselves on God’s behalf.
Jesus troubled himself on God’s behalf, and on the behalf of others.