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As I reported to you at the end of my previous show, my father passed away on Wednesday, October 21st at about 2:40pm central time. Earlier in his life, he had been a preacher. As a child and young man, I heard him preach many a message.
In the last truly coherent conversation with our dad, he said, “We ain’t got nothing made if we can’t get to the point where we love everybody. What we don’t agree with is between them and the Lord. We’re just supposed to love ’em.” During his soft-voiced, and tearful little sermon, it felt like he was making peace with God, with us, and anyone he felt he might not have taken the time to ‘love instead of judge.’
Less than three weeks later, he was promoted to his heavenly home. His final little sermonette held within it a simple yet fundamental truth, and it’s what everything else boils down to in the end. If you don’t have love, you don’t have anything.
In this special uninterrupted blogcast, we’ll examine that unifying message of love, and we’ll say goodbye to a true Kingdom Hero – Troy Massengill.
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A familiar passage of scripture provides the backdrop for this basic lesson. It’s known as “the love chapter.”
1 Corinthians 13 states the following…
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
It’s in these first three verses that my dad’s final sermon was based. His words echo these verses. No matter what else we say or do or become or accomplish in this life, if we don’t love everyone – accept them in spite of their flaws – then all our efforts are in vain. Clearly, love is the most important thing that we can do and possess – and it’s also the hardest concept to grasp. The next verses tell us exactly what love truly IS, what it ISN’T, what it DOES, and what it DOES NOT DO…
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Now that – ALL of that – can be a pretty tall order for many of us. Having patience with people is one of the most difficult things we tend to struggle with in life. And that’s just the FIRST quality that love possesses! Add all the other aspects of love – kindness, absence of envy or boasting or arrogance or rudeness – and it only gets harder for us. Enduring all the heartache someone might cause you and still loving them is not a fleshly characteristic, but a Godly one. And the verses that follow make it clear that this character trait is not something temporary. It’s not something you do only for a time…
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
What’s it talking about there? When the perfect comes? Well, when Jesus comes, it will mark the beginning of something new. Old things will pass away, and everything will be made new. Another scripture says that, when we see Him, we will be like Him. We will be made perfect like Christ on that day of His return. Likewise, we must be ready to give up the old ways of our flesh NOW, and prepared to take on His new and perfect ways. It’s just like growing up, as this passage reads as we continue…
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
This is a lesson that we, unfortunately, have to be reminded of from time to time. All too often, we allow our differences with others to become walls of separation that jade our attitudes toward them. But we shouldn’t be doing that. In fact, I wanna read part of a news article to you. This is an example of how that even some of the perhaps more “worldly” among us can show the right attitude regarding their fellow man, despite having very different worldviews and political beliefs…
Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Renner, and director James Gunn are among the Marvel stars who have stepped forward to defend Chris Pratt after the actor experienced backlash and criticism online for his perceived conservative political views. In spite of their own left-leaning political opinions, they stood behind Pratt’s right to hold different beliefs.
And listen to this – this is what Robert Downey, Jr., had to say…
“The ‘sinless’ are casting stones at my brother, Chris Pratt,” Downey wrote Thursday on Instagram, in a post that was endorsed by Renner. “A real Christian who lives by principle, has never demonstrated anything but positivity and gratitude… AND he just married into a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value. If you take issue with Chris… I’ve got a novel idea. Delete your social media accounts, sit with your OWN defects of character, work on THEM, then celebrate your humanness.”
Powerful words there, from Ironman. And this is so true. Members of my own family have very different opinions about things, varying political views – we most definitely do NOT see eye to eye on certain topics. But that does not mean that we hate each other. Our opposing views do not stop us from loving one another, nor should they. And certainly we as Christians have to guard our hearts from being so cold that we allow differing opinions to preclude us from loving our fellow man.
Now on my show, you will occasionally hear me speaking my personal opinions about people who believe differently than I do. You’ll for sure hear me speaking out against some who hold views that clearly oppose scripture. But let this one thing be absolutely certain: I do not ever wish to convey the notion that I hate or wish ill will to anyone with whom I may disagree. No matter what my opinions are, I have to line my actions up with scripture. I am charged by God’s Word to LOVE those people and pray for them. If I truly believe that someone is in the wrong and in danger of going to hell, I’d better be praying that God changes that someone’s heart and soul before it’s too late.
Scripture is crystal clear on this message, as was my dad’s little sermonette. There is no room for middle ground or any gray area. Love is not a mere suggestion. It is a commandment. And it is the GREATEST commandment. Matthew 22:36-40 plainly tells us this. One of the Pharisees – a lawyer – tested Jesus and asked Him point blank…
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus didn’t mince words on this issue. Love is the greatest command we’re given, and every other command is contingent upon it. Of the Ten Commandments, the first few are all about loving God, and the rest are about loving our fellow man. It’s not up for debate. Yet this crucial message is probably the toughest for us to come to terms with.
The fact that this was the theme of my dad’s thoughts so near the end of his life is not mere coincidence. I’ve heard of some others who spoke similarly shortly before death. Of every lesson we learn throughout our lives, this one is the most important. Deep down, within our spirits, we know it’s true. It’s written in the core of our being – woven into our DNA. Love is the language that everyone understands, and it is the essence of the heart of God. Realizing that during our final days of this life is certainly poignant, but it’s something that we should strive to live out every single day of our lives.
So, my father’s final little sermon struck a chord with me – as it did with others in my family. And now we have to prepare ourselves for what could be almost a whole year of firsts – our first Thanksgiving without Dad, our first Christmas without him, New Years, July 4th, and so on. Though these may be trying times, and though some tears may occasionally fall, I know that we will often think fondly of Dad’s last message to us: We don’t have anything made if we don’t love people. Truer words were never spoken.
In closing, I offer this tribute to my dad – Troy Massengill – a real Kingdom Hero who served Jesus to the end. He ministered to many people during his life, both in preaching the Word and in singing God’s praises. He won souls for the Lord. He prayed for the sick. He baptized new believers, including myself. He gave comfort and encouragement to the downcast. He loved his wife faithfully, and he taught his four children to love one another. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was good example to us, and I was blessed to have him in my life. He will be greatly missed from now until we see him again. ‘Til then…I love you, Pop.
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