Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

One of the most painful actions a husband can do to his bride is say something uncomplimentary about her body while seeing her disrobed for the first time.

This causes a deep hurt that is more likely to become a gash in the soul that doesn’t heal quickly. If a clueless man points out each wrinkle, wart, and imperfection, he isn’t making his wife feel safe and secure in his presence.

If she asks, “Does this make me look fat," and he replies, “You look like the Goodyear Blimp in that outfit,” I can bet there will not be smooth sailing for these married shipmates.

In the Song of Solomon in the Bible, on the honeymoon night between the king and his queen, he looks deeply into her eyes and says, “You are altogether beautiful my love, and there is no flaw in you.” Is this to be taken literally?

Did Solomon marry pure perfection? Of course not. Solomon was looking through the eyes of love.

Love covers a multitude of mistakes. It doesn’t pretend that they aren’t there. It focuses on everything right, so it doesn’t get shipwrecked by all that is wrong.

My wife doesn’t need to be conned by me, but she does need to know that I love her unconditionally. It is not, “I love you if,” or “I love you because.” It is simply, “I love you.”

A couple who truly feels safe and cherished by one another won’t cover up, hide, or pretend. It is in that environment that love can bloom.

Remember that Jesus sees us as being without “spot or blemish.” He is truly looking through the eyes of love.

God doesn't love us because of what we look like, but rather what we would look like dressed in His acceptance. He redeemed what others would have tossed aside. It is the difference between paper plates and fine china.

Life wants to convince us that we are disposable and replaceable. God wants to teach us that because of the touch of the Master’s hand, we are masterpieces ready to be displayed as living evidence of the difference His definition can make.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Whose view is influencing you?

Let me share a story.

After taking a call in the locker room, a man asked his racquetball partner, who happened to be a minister, for a favor.

“Brother, I’ve got a pastoral situation that maybe you can help me solve," the man said.

"My wife is getting back from visiting her parents in Ireland for 10 days, and she’s expecting me to pick her up at the airport. My boss just called, and is requiring my presence at a command performance.

"Is there any way you could help me out and pick her up for me? If I can’t be there, I know she’d appreciate someone special.”

"I’d be glad to pick up your wife,” the minister said. “How will I know what she looks like? I’ve never seen her before.”

“That’s easy,” the man replied. “When the whole dismal terminal lights up, as if the sun suddenly came from behind the clouds, just find the source of that radiance. That’ll be my wife.”

Something tells me that this couple is not experiencing romance on the rocks, but a love that is stable and strong.

Love covers sin by filling the void. When we see the sins of others, we have a choice to make. We can rush to blow the whistle and expose the sinfulness we see, while spreading guilt and condemnation along the way, or we can come to the aid of those who are the victims of sin.

We can become God’s police force and lock sinners up, or we can become God’s emergency technician team and provide life or death care to the walking wounded.

Let me be clear, all sin comes with a price, and consequences can’t be avoided sometimes. We must never condone sin, but we must not hate sinners.

Someone is paying the price, but I believe as believers, we are called and equipped by God to help recover the losses left behind by sin. The church is not a place where we should cover up and pretend. The church should come clean and leave the acting to those on stage.

We have a choice. We can proudly crusade as religious pharisees, or we can be more like Jesus and love those in need.

Jesus loved the lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors. If you get right down to it, we all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. I am beyond grateful that because of His amazing grace, He loves me.

Do we see God’s saving action as a hand out to us, or as an invitation to join him in rescuing others?

The way of the world is to receive a gift and enjoy it for our pleasure. That’s what consumers do. Christians should be different because Jesus loved mankind like no other could.

Salvation is our spiritual empowerment to love others as God has loved us. Being Christians means we aren’t busybodies, but bodybuilders.

God’s love does its biggest renovation chiefly in the heart, soul, and spirit. It is not just learning to conduct ourselves properly as dictated by those who have the biggest influence.

Being a disciple is not simply changing our conduct, conforming to a new code of ethics. It is a miraculous work of God, done in the heart.

It is an inward grace, and not an outward show. It will ultimately appear on the outside, but in and of itself, it is an inward grace. All to Jesus we surrender, and we become more like the one we give our hearts to.

If Jesus is talking to you right now, what do you hear Him saying?

Is He making a list of your faults and shortcomings? Are you shrinking in His presence? Is God’s holiness freaking you out to the point that the only way you will function is if you wear fig leaves, rather than coming as you are?

Listen to the voice of the real Jesus, and read what He says. God is in love with us. How might it be different if we lived like we are in love with Him, too?

Let’s not be content to only imagine this. Let’s make it happen.

Love covers a multitude of sins, including those of you and me. This is something to celebrate, and today, I celebrate the Lord’s love for us.

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor at The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.