Frank Retief was pastor at St James Church Cape Town for 31 years, having planted the church in 1968 with his wife Beulah. He became the Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in South Africa until he retired in 2010. Frank remains active in ministry through preaching, teaching , pastoral work & writing, and has authored a number of books.
The love of God
1 John 4:16 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.”
In the very early years of the 20th century there was a great Gospel singer named Charles Alexander. He was a singer who accompanied the great preachers Dr R A Torrey and Dr Wilbur Chapman on their evangelistic tours. Unknown as they are to us today they nevertheless were legends in their lifetime.
Charles married Helen Cadbury, daughter of the founder of the Cadbury Chocolate Empire. He was an educated American and she was an e3xtremely wealthy British aristocrat. But they were united in their love for Christ and Helen helped each night in the Gospel mission meetings speaking to enquirers and helping those seeking salvation.
One night at a meeting specially organised for the drunks, street people and down-and-outs Helen was in the counselling room when a woman with unkempt hair and tattered clothes came to the front. Miss Cadbury tried to explain something of the love of God to her but her eyes were dead and her ears were deaf. The only response she could make was “He loves you but he doesn’t love me.” Finally a glimmer of understanding came to her. Turning immediately to the aristocratic Helen Cadbury and looking straight into her eyes she said “Give me a kiss”. At once Mrs Alexander embraced and kissed her and the woman returned home. But she came back and Helen Alexander said she was glad to see at the meetings “clean and tidied up”.
Just a little token of the Father’s love and acceptance helped that poor woman understand God loved her in all her circumstances.
We ourselves need that assurance from time to time but do you not think if we were kinder, more affectionate and welcoming to people: more loving in word and deed, our words would carry much more weight?
Even small acts of kindness to those in spiritual need and who may be cynical about the message of Christ could go a long way in changing attitudes.
Perhaps there is someone in your circle who needs to know that God is love. “Whoever lives in love lives in God.” They need to see that and experience that. They need to feel that someone who says they love God is willing to put their arms around them dirty and smelly and unlovely as they are and pray for them and really care for them.
The same is true for everybody of every social class. The love of God must be spoken to them, but like Helen Cadbury’s actions, it sometimes needs to be seen too.
Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:40: “The King will reply: ”I tell you the truth that whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me”.
Let the love of God govern all your actions and ever shine through you to all you meet, especially those who are hard to love.
“O God, If you loved the world and sent your Son to save them, then surely we who have been saved should demonstrate that. Instead we have often dismissed people or treated them harshly. Please forgive us our cruelty to others. May your Holy Spirit live us in such a manner that God’s love will be seen in us at all times. Amen”
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