From: Rich Carlson
Date: February 18, 2019
Subject: It's February 18; Good Morning Union

“They will know we are Christians by our love.”       

OK, I woke up early, recovering from jet lag, with thoughts still being processed from my trip to Africa. It was all about communication, something my granddaughter commented on several times—how hard it was to communicate when you don’t know the language, and yet how easy it was to “communicate” even without words! It was an ah-ha moment for grandpa which is turning into today’s GMU.

Now, I’m NOT an English teacher and my expertise is NOT in the art and history of the development of communication, but here are my musings on my granddaughter’s experience with language:

I have a bowl full of symbols that are called letters, they come in various shapes and sizes and the world has used them in thousands of different ways, putting them beside each other in predetermined and still creative ways. We decide what sound each will make so we can multiply the methods for their use. They have no meaning; they are only symbols and sounds. Meaning comes when a group of us agrees that a particular grouping of these symbols, called words, will represent something, and that when I make the agreed upon sounds these symbols will have meaning. If I don’t know the agreed upon meaning the sounds are, well, meaningless!

It’s relatively easy to establish meanings to concrete objects and with practice I can make the sounds that represent a thing. When I say “cat” you have meaning, because of past experience and learning, and there comes up in your mind some type of feline critter, or you look at that kitty sitting in front of you and begin to associate that fur ball with “cat!”

The process gets a bit more challenging if the symbols and sounds represent something abstract. If I put four of those symbols, with their accompanying agreed-upon sounds, together I can form the word “love.” When I make those sounds and you hear that agreed upon word, there are MANY pictures you can draw in your mind- last Thursday (valentine’s day in case you forgot!), emotion, feelings, caring, safety, or sex! The list could go on, but you get the point. I need some clarification!

So along comes the Bible and it clarifies things, “God is love.” Oh, now I get it! The abstract concept of a high power whom I have never seen that I call God is defined by my four letter word “Love.” But both are still abstract concepts so I need a bit more help if this communication thing is going to work.

I go to music for some comparative letter combinations to help—“They”ll know we are Christians by our love.” “Christian” is a less abstract concept because I have seen them (and call myself one!) So God is love and love is defined by what Christians do! Does that help? Unfortunately, not much! I know too much about “Christians” to agree that everything I can tangibly see accurately defined either love or God!

I can’t fix the world, but I can impact my world! My challenge then becomes, If “love” has meaning and it defines God, and people look at me as a Christian, I want them to see my tangible definition of love by my observable actions so their definition of both love and God become clearer. There are a lot of confusing messages out there that are communicated as love; I want mine to bring clarity to both the word and the Higher Power that I put my faith and trust in. The more consistent the message, the clearer becomes the definition. Lord, give me clarity and consistency in my life SO THAT my definition to a world searching for meaning will be clear and we all will know both You and love because they saw a Christian today.

Sorry, I’ll try and be less wordy tomorrow. That ‘s what happens when jet lag wakes me up too early!

Have a great day joining me in clarifying the meaning of love so God is rightly represented,

Pastor Rich


Quote for the day: “I didn’t go into teaching for the income, I went into it for the outcome!”

PS        Here are the words to the song that was my “verse” for today to help you clarify your meaning of Christian love. It’s ALL about relationship:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they'll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Songwriters: Peter Scholtes


PPS      Service Challenge Day 18-      Find a friend who needs some help in a class or
head down to Indigo Bridge to read to kids. Submit your photo to the form for your daily points: