Yesterday, I was hosted at a local bookstore for an Author Book Signing. Many people came into the store. I was seated at a table with my books and materials, right at the front door. I greeted everyone as they entered with all the warmth and friendliness I could muster. Almost everyone responded likewise. I offered each person a free bookmark. Some said “Yes” and others said “No,” but what I found most interesting was that many said “Yes,” until they noticed Jesus on the bookmark. They looked at it and quickly said, “No, thank you.” A few even jumped back! What is it that causes some to reject a free bookmark with a picture of Jesus? Why such a negative reaction? Is it the adverse response to religion? Is it that so many no longer believe in God? Or is it that so many would rather not think about God? After all, He is so demanding. He expects so much of us. If we believe in Christ and all His teachings, we may have to make a change in our lives. We may have to give up some of the pleasurable things or pleasurable behaviors in our lives. We may have to admit that we are not the “good” person we would like to believe we are. No, it is better to just keep living life as we are. Changes are so difficult. We hate change!
The fact is that all God expects of us is to love Him and love others. What is so hard about that? Deep down inside, we know that if we are to love God and love others, we may have to give up our own desires. We will not be able to just consider our own needs and wants first. We would have to give up some of those needs and wants for the sake of someone else. For example, it is not easy to choose between sacrificing our time of pursuing our own interests to go and take care of a sick friend. Taking care of someone who is sick requires disagreeable duties, such as cleaning up after him, feeding her, and/or spending hours at the hospital with him. We would have to love him or her very much to make such a sacrifice, or we would have to love God very much. Often, loving others requires us to sacrifice our time to engage in disagreeable duties, or it may require us to forgive someone we really do not wish to forgive.
Does God expect us to sacrifice ourselves? Yes, without a doubt. Christ said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Why does God expect us to sacrifice ourselves for others? This is God’s will. In truth, genuine love always requires a sacrifice from us. God desires us to love because the reward for loving others is immeasurable. It is a gift from God, which we often take for granted.
I feel sad for those who look at a picture of Christ and feel that they cannot get away quick enough. I feel compassion for those who do not know the love of God. God must have had compassion on me at my book signing because He did send me a young girl full of innocent love, full of God’s love. She was a bright light in the gloom of countless faces. She was open and honest, telling me about her faith and about her challenges in life. I was able to give her a word of encouragement because she was open to it. She was willing to listen. She skipped away with joy in her step, and I felt blessed that God allowed me to give her a of word reassurance. It is for these moments that I persevere in faith. I would much rather spend my time showing love toward others than anything else I could possibly do. No one bought my book, but my time was well spent because of this sweet young girl. God, please watch over her and bless her!
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