Deer hunting season has come and gone in Alabama for 2015-16, and I suspect many of you are still mourning that fact. Of course, for others that just means it’s almost time for turkey season.
I’ve heard more than a few hunting stories from the past few months, and felt obligated to share one of my own. Unfortunately, I was not involved in this one, but there was a preacher there, along with a lawyer and a doctor, who were in the woods hunting together. When a prize buck ran past they all fired at the exact same time and the buck dropped. The problem was that there was only one bullet hole and they didn’t know which of them shot it.
They decided to take it to the local game warden, hoping that the agent could figure out who could claim the trophy. The warden said, “Let me look at the deer. Sometimes I can figure these things out.” He asked a few questions, examined the deer carefully, and declared, “The preacher shot that buck!”
Amazed, the other two asked how he knew it was the preacher. Stooping down, he pointed out the wound. “See here,” he said, “It went in one ear and out the other.”
I don’t hunt, but I can certainly relate.
You may have also heard the preacher story about the guy who kept preaching the same message week after week. When one of his members finally questioned him about it, he replied, “Well, you all haven’t started following this one yet, so I decided not to move on till you do!”
Actually that story may have some grounding in history. One of the best known of the early church fathers was a man named Jerome, who was a prolific writer and Bible commentator, and translated the Scriptures into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate). He also served as a historian of the early church, and wrote often of the apostle John, the last of the surviving disciples of Jesus.
In one particular account, John was in Ephesus where he had lived until he was very old, and would have to be physically carried to church gatherings. He could hardly put together many words to speak, and the only thing he would ever say in their meetings was: “Little children, love one another!”
When at last the brothers present got tired of hearing the same thing again and again, they asked him, “Master, why do you keep saying the same thing?” John replied, “Because it is the Lord’s command, and it is enough, if it is really done.”
Sometimes, we need to hear the same truths again and again, especially as it relates to God’s love for us and our love for Him, and for one another. It is enough, in fact, because those things are intricately tied together and so very crucial for us if we are to live out the gospel in our world.
This Sunday–on Valentine’s Day–we are going to be kicking off a new series of messages at Shelby Crossings on the subject oflove, as we look again at that simple command to “love one another,” and what that means for us almost twenty centuries after John first heard Jesus say those words. I hope you can be with us.
My prayer for this upcoming season is that“…you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”(Ephesians 3:17-19)
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.