Monday, May 14, 2012

Love The Women In Your LIfe!

A couple of summers ago we were at Camp Calumet. We had a great day of swimming and relaxing on the shores of Lake Ossipee. I was walking back to our car with my five year old daughter. Out of the blue she said to me in a really sad voice, “Daddy I am fat.” Wait who told her that. How does she even know what that means? That was the day I realized how important my job was as a father. My wife and I had never told our daughter that she was fat. To my knowledge no one in our family had ever said that to her. It made me realize that I was going to have to talk louder and more boldly. I was going to have to be louder than all the other voices out there in the world shouting at my little girl. I was going to have to be louder than the voices that tell her that her worth is tied up in her looks. The voices that tell her she is not skinny enough, not good looking enough, not hot enough. The powers of the world are great at tearing us down. They want to tear us down, because then we will consume more, we will overcompensate, and we will turn mean or give up all together. We can’t give up, because today is Mother’s day. And some day (maybe) my little girl will be a mother. She will be responsible for another life, and I want her to be able to love that other life more than her own. Some day (maybe) my little girl will be a lawyer, a doctor, a senator, a painter, a teacher, a bus driver, or whatever. I want her to see her role in this world as healing and as giving back. I want her to make a difference in the world in some way. I don’t want her to be afraid, but to know that she can conquer the world. I don’t want her own self to get in the way of all the things she will do. Some day (defiantly) my little girl will be called to defend someone else, help someone else, love someone else. I don’t want her to hate herself, because that makes loving others really hard. On this mother’s day I want all of us here at worship this morning to know that it is an uphill battle. I am sure if you are a woman you already know this. I am not saying anything particularly radical this morning. But I believe in speaking the truth about what the world does to us. Consider that 3 out of 4 girls 12 years old feel depressed, guilty, and shameful. That 48% of girls after looking at a fashion magazine for just 3 minutes said they wished they were as skinny as models. 31% of 12 year old girls admit to starving themselves to lose weight. One out of every four college-aged women uses unhealthy methods of weight control—including fasting, skipping meals, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, and self-induced vomiting. Consider that the diet industry in the US makes anywhere from 40 to 100 billion dollars a year selling temporary weight loss. We are up against an industry that gets rich because women feel bad about themselves. We are up against a world that defines what it means to be beautiful that has nothing to do with what goes on in our insides. The world does not care about a person’s character, or their worth as a child of God, only in what materially they look like. This is not about some overly wishy-washy self-esteem thing. I don’t believe that every kid should get and A, or that we should be telling our kids how great they are all the time. This is about something evil in our world. It is a message being given out to woman that they are not good enough, not because of their accomplishments, but because of the way they look. That they don’t measure up to some totally bizarre and unattainable image of what a woman should be. In our reading from 1 John we are told that we have the power through Jesus Christ to conquer the world. The world in John means the things that are apart from God, the things in opposition to God. Telling women that they have to all meet the same standard of beauty is apart from God. Telling women that their worth is tied to their looks is in opposition to God. It stands in direct opposition to the message that is in the Biblical witness. The message of the Biblical witness is that each and every women (men too but we are talking about women this morning) has a God given value. That value is not about what they look like, but about God’s love for them. Jesus over against the people of his day saw value in women. He had women as followers because for Jesus they were more than sex objects, they were valuable to the kingdom of God. The woman at the well who was exploited by five different men and shunned from her community became a witness to Jesus’ divinity. The prostitute who was about to be stoned hypocritically by the men of the village is given a new life from Jesus. Mary can sit and learn at Jesus feet, just like a man, because all God’s children should be able to learn and question. The women become the first preachers of the resurrection because they are the ones with enough guts to go to the tomb that Sunday morning. I could go on and on, but you get the picture Jesus constantly broke the bounds of the world to set women free. That is my message to everyone this morning. On this mother’s day, on this the Lord’s day, we don’t have to allow our aunts, daughters, wives, sisters, and mother’s to feel tied by the world’s expectations of what they are. We can conquer the world! How? We can conquer the world through the love of God. It is ultimately love that conquers all things. It is love that moves us to do better. It is love of my daughter, my wife, my mother, and my sisters that make me speak up and say that this cannot stand. Lebron James received the most valuable player award this week from the NBA. In his acceptance speech he was emotional as he talked about his kids. He said, “I do what I do perform at a high level every night, because I don’t want to let them down.” Out of love, he does not want to let his kids down. I don’t want to let my daughter down. I shared this story about my daughter this week at our pastor’s Bible study. Someone asked me what my response to her was. I have to say I don’t know if I gave the best response. I don’t know if the words I used after she said that helped or not. But what I know is that I have to love her more. From that love I have to tell her more what an amazing person she is. I have to let her know every day that God loves her, that God made her to be more than merely her looks. I have to let her know that it is what on the inside that counts. I have to love the women in my life more, so that they see themselves through my eyes and not some image on a magazine. That is what mother’s day is about. It is about letting the women in our lives know that we honor them. Not because of their beauty outside but because of what God has called them to be in this world. I have been blessed in my life to have a mother that told me every day that she loved me unconditionally. I have been blessed to have a mother who taught me right from wrong. I have been blessed with a mother who dragged me every Sunday morning against my will to church so I could know God’s love for me. It is because of that love that I want to give back to my daughter. That is how love works we give it away and it multiplies and it conquers all the evil things that we are surrounded by. As scripture says, “Love covers a multitude of sin.” It helps us to see ourselves not as the world would see us, but as how God sees us. God sees us as his beloved children who are gifted and special. I hope that we can see women as God sees them. I have faith that through the love of God we can conquer the world. We can let the women in our lives know their value to us. So on this Mother’s day love the women in your life, and make sure they know how special they have been to you. Make sure they know you love them. So that we might through faith in the love of God conquer all things that are in opposition to God. Amen

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