Rev. Stephen Handy shares insight on being made in God's image, and the implications it carries for humanity. In this fourth part of the four-part series, Pastor Stephen shares about the source of endless fulfillment.
My car’s gas tank has the capacity for 13 gallons of gas. Sometimes unintentionally, I will drive until the red light comes on indicating it’s time to fill up again. He car manual suggests that it runs best with at least ½ tank of gas. However, if I’m not careful, I will forget the recommendations to keep it my gas at a ½ tank. I’ll get distracted and run the risk of being in a place of emptiness.
As God’s image bearers we are given capacity, the capacity to love God, self and others. We are recipients and become containers of God’s love. There is no limit to this God’s love for and through us because God continues to pour into us the presence of the Holy Spirit. Whenever we are running low of love, we have the ability to call on the Holy Spirit to fill us up.
Jesus gives us these two greatest commandments to remind us of the necessity of keeping our spiritual tanks full. When we operate out of a full spiritual tank of love, we maximize our efforts to transform the culture. Jesus says the entire law rests upon these as recorded in Mark’s gospel 12:30-31, 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
One of the ways I try to keep me spiritual tank full is by remembering the recommendations of John Wesley’s General Rules. The late Bishop Rueben Job offers an interpretation of John Wesley's General Rules for today's readers. Bishop Job begins first with “Doing No Harm” to each other. What happens when we refuse to do harm, even when harm is done to us? The power of choosing to do no harm is liberating to our image of God. Second, to “Do Good” is to do good when good doesn’t appear to be a legitimate response or option. And thirdly, to “Stay in love with God!” Keeping these three simple rules help my mind to remember the process of an inward transformation. While this inward transformation is happening, I am compelled to an external righteousness that keeps me carrying the image of God forward. Daily I need to check my spiritual tank to ensure that I am running on at least half full and not dipping into the empty zone.
My ability to navigate through uncertain times and among uncertain people is immensely helped by practicing these three simple rules and allowing my capacity to love to be evident, especially as I extend compassion to others. This compassion is the same compassion that Jesus offered on his daily journey on earth. The gospel in various places reveals Jesus being filled with compassion.
Compassion was a characteristic of Jesus. Sometime I am filled with other things, but I pray for more compassion in my heart and soul so that I become the hands, feet and heart of Jesus in this blessed world. Where there is compassion there is Christ!