by Pastor Red Etzel
I was just re-reading some words from a great churchman, O.P. Kretzmann, & I knew I could not write anything better for you, so here are his words:
"today we are standing in the world's evening time. The shadows of eternity are already upon us. The inscrutable wisdom of God has made these latter days of harshness & of heartlessness. We are living in a singularly loveless time. The fact that our age is mad with the lust for gold has made us supremely selfish & self-centered. Even our family life is rapidly disappearing. Hearts once attuned to vibrate in harmony with each other are now discordant & shrill. They prefer the clink of gold to the soft voices of the heart & to the glad music of friendship & fellowship & love.
"Into this strange age the Lord God has placed us, holding in our hands the one religion in the world which is dominated & permeated by the thought of love. The very heart of our faith is revealed in the three words: God is Love. Behind these three words lies ages of careful watching of a loving Father in heaven over every faltering step which human children take in their brief journey from the cradle to the grave. Behind them lies the entire magnificent plan of salvation which found its sublime climax when our Lord Jesus lived & walked for thirty-three years among people & finally died on a cross in order that hearts might see finally & forever, that despite all that they might be, the love of God is great enough to tear them body & soul out of he darkness of sin & hate into the glorious light of the forgiveness of sin & love. Christianity, the religion of God's love in Christ, is the road back to God. It is God's road of love.
"Today, we are in imminent danger of wandering away from that road & walking alone over the highways of life. We easily become the loveless children of a heartless age. It is therefore one of our most pressing tasks to examine our own heart in the light of the eternal love & timeless mercy which streams from the gates of heaven. It must be one of our highest purposes to draw out of our hearts all the little hates & petty jealousies which make our lives such poor & clouded reflections of the love of God. We must know that God has only one way of reaching the human heart. That way lies only through another human heart. Even when we are reading our Bibles, God touches us only through the hearts & lives & hands of hose who many centuries ago heard His voice come to them, & listened. Even so it is today. If we are to walk the road back to God as they did so many years ago, our hearts must hear our Savior's voice pleading down through the long years of war & bloodshed, & across the weary centuries of bitter hate & fearful malice: 'Little children, love one another.'
"Nothing dare stand between us & our vision of that love. We may say that there are human beings whom we cannot love, human beings who are scarred, warped, & shriveled souls whose entire personality repels us. But God has never spoken so. As long as the world has stood, God has never deserted one single soul on this side of the grave. Shall we withdraw from our fellow beings? Shall we perhaps even disown our own fellow Christians? Ought we not rather resolve never to forsake any human being within our reach? If there is someone whom we do not like, let us consider for a moment if the fault does not perhaps lie in us. Perhaps if we could look deeper into the hear of our enemy, we would find there some hidden beauty & a buried kindness which would recompense us well for all the charity & Christian love we might pour out upon our enemy. There are few things in this world that are more satisfying than the discovery of some hidden beauty in a redeemed human heart. If we will only try to do that we shall be walking the road back to God. It is the road of love. Into our lives will come a new tenderness & the supreme strength of gentleness. We have the eternal promise of our blessed Savior that it is a tenderness which will bring us happiness & peace forever." [O.P. Kretzmann, The Road Back to God]
1 John 4:7-9 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, & whoever loves has been born of God & knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.