Love may challenge and love may correct but love will never shame. Love may call us out to uncomfortable places but love will never cast us aside. Love may demand but will never demean. Love will never ask us to dim our light lest we shine too brightly. Love will never ask us to be less than we were created to be. By this we know God. By this we follow Jesus. By this we serve one another. Love. Not fear.
Avoiding conflict isn't peacemaking. Avoiding conflict means running away from the mess while peacemaking means running into the middle of it. Peacemaking means addressing those issues that caused conflict in the first place. Peacemaking can never be separated from doing justice. They go hand in hand. Peacemaking means having to stir the waters on the way to peace. Peacemaking means speaking the truth in love, but speaking the truth nonetheless.
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God's forgiveness doesn't come cheaply, nor is it a ticket to do what we jolly well please because there's a get out of jail free card at the end. Instead, it is the life-changing embrace of love that welcomes us when we've no reason to expect it. We cannot fail deeply enough for God to give us up.
In the end when God does speak, it is not the pious friends who are commended. God tells then they have been guilty of misrepresenting God. Only Job - only angry, defiant, doubting Job has been faithful. The story of Job reminds us that God is not offended when we question. Indeed, if anything God is offended when we speak too glibly. Make room in your heart for the angry, defiant and doubting questions. You may find God there as well.
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Contrary to what a lot of people believe (or hope), comfort doesn't take the pain away. Comfort slides in beside the pain, pulling up a chair so that we have something more than sorrow in our hearts. Comfort gently expands our spirits so that we can breathe again. Comfort opens our eyes so that we can see possibility again. And on those days, whether it is the next day or five years removed, on that day when grief rears its dark head again, comfort helps us remember that pain is not all there is
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