Does my faith make me a more loving person?

As I leapt out of the dentist’s chair, the hygienist said, “Don’t forget to schedule your next checkup, Dr. Davis.”  Seems like checkups are a way of life.  There are medical checkups, eye checkups, auto checkups, HVAC checkups, estate checkups and the list goes on and on.
Perhaps the turn of the year is the best time for a faith checkup.  A good measuring stick is your answer to the question, “Does my faith make me a more loving person?”  After all, the amount of love we have for God, Neighbor, and Self was the measuring stick our Lord used.  For him, it was the most authentic and accurate sign of discipleship. He explained this to his disciples in the Upper Room, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34f, NRSV). The Apostle Paul understood this.  It’s why he said, “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.  So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” (I Corinthians 13:3, The Message). “It’s great to remember that love doesn’t fly off the handle.  It doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.  Takes pleasure in the flowering of the truth.  Puts up with difficulties.  Trusts God always.  Always looks for the best.  Never looks back.  But keeps going to the end….” Our job is to, “Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.  And the best of the three is love” (I Corinthians 13:13, The Message).  So put love first in 2018.  Make love your aim.  That’s what God wishes for us to do.  That’s how we write a better story.

If you have a religious experience and it makes you more loving, then it is – in my opinion – good religion.  A valid experience.  But if you have a religious experience that makes you hateful or judgmental or holier than others, well, again in my opinion, that is bad religion – and bad news!  Bad religion is always selfish.  Good religion is always selfless.  Good religion asks, “What can I do for God and for others?” If you want to do a faith checkup, start with the question,
“Does my faith make me a more loving person?”