Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mr. Rogers, down for the struggle

Love is a struggle.
Just ask Mr. Rogers.
Yes, that's right, the gentle minister turned children's show TV host known for his blue tennis shoes and perfectly pressed button down cardigan was down for the struggle. The love struggle. In the Neighborhood of Make-Believe where he enchanted his viewers with puppets and taught lessons with marionettes, Mr. Rogers taught about the reality of love. True love that is anything but a fuzzy fantasy. Biblical love that is "an active noun like struggle."
Mr. Rogers taught children (and adults too) about loving like Christ.
When Mr. Rogers told kids how to love he rooted his curriculum in the timeless truth of John 15:13, the ultimate struggle of Jesus laying down His life for sinners. The greatest love of all, the love of the perfect Savior paying a penalty He didn't deserve to redeem the lost and pardon the guilty, was at the heart of Mr. Rogers' lessons on love. Lessons that stand the eternal test of time.
To love like Christ is to choose to follow Christ, take up a burdensome cross and struggle. It is to wrestle with people's imperfections and endeavor to accept them in spite of their flaws. Love for others is, at its core, a labor of love for Christ.
Apart from the indwelling of the Lord's love I am bound to fail at giving love to my fellow man. Their day-to-day annoyances, quirks and bothersome habits are sure to squelch weak, emotional love. All the fuzzy feelings in the world will turn rough and rigid under the pressure of agitation.
To give consistent, genuine love is only by the indwelling of Christ. I must surrender to Christ, pick up my own cross and follow Him and His example of love. Love that endured the hardship of scorn, the pain of nails and the agony of a death to save my doomed soul.
Christ didn't sugar-coat true love, and neither did Mr. Rogers. It is not a walk through a land of make-believe. Love is a struggle. But it is worth the fight because when we love like Christ and suffer with Christ we are united with Him in His pain and one day will be united with Him in His glorious, eternal neighborhood of Heaven.

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