If I was to write letters to the people who have heard the gospel from my lips, I wonder if I could say what Paul said.
For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
(1 Thessalonians 2:5-8 ESV)
As I read from Paul's pen, I imagine what it must have felt like to know he and his little missionary band were "affectionately desirous" of me - ready to share the Gospel and their very lives because I was so dear to them.
Hm. These words come to mind: treasured, valued, loved.
Though I'm sure you would make assumptions about my extrovertedness if we met, relationships aren't something I instinctually sacrifice to develop. Often (ahem, too often) I would rather choose a book or a journal or precious time writing over developing relationships.
I remember moving to Austin, Texas after I graduated from college. After living with college friends for four years, renting a room from a nice couple in the suburbs was quite the adjustment. I read a lot of books those first few months. Sometimes, I would go to BORDERS to see how many books I could finish on the overstuffed chair in the biography section (I was on a bit of a budget). But, I'll never forget the phone calls I would receive from my new Austin friends. It would be 6 pm on a Thursday night - prime time to dig in to my newest biography on Blaise Pascal - and I would get a call from Katelin or Stephanie or Christine.
Selfishly, I knew Blaise Pascal was safe - that he wouldn't make drama or ask much of me. There was something else, though, that stirred me to say, "...Sure! I'll meet you there in 15 minutes." That something else was hidden in my DNA, woven into my identity by the hand of God while I was still in my mom's tummy.
We were made for relationship. We were designed to enjoy and share and give life in relationship.
Christ Himself proved it was a good design when He became flesh - intentionally walking into humanity as a human who reached out to serve, love, give, and bless. He did not stoop to walk in a flawed design. No, He lived life showing us how it was truly designed to be lived.
Being human is not an unfortunate mistake. God's design is good and the life of Jesus reveals it to be beautifully so.
And how is it that Paul can write with such deep love and sacrifice for the people with whom he shared the Gospel? Because Paul had experienced being treasured and valued and loved by God. Paul was overwhelmed by the amount of grace and mercy he'd received and wanted nothing more than to be spent living as Christ.
Treasuring Christ above all else means sharing the treasure.
let LOVE fly like cRaZy