I’m writing this article a few hours after attending the funeral of Mike Lawson, a fellow member of John Wesley Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis who died of cancer two days before his 63rd birthday. Mike was known in the church and the surrounding community for his passion for worshipping God and learning more about Him. He showed up for every available church activity that his schedule would allow. During the funeral, a longtime women’s Bible study leader shared that Mike — a hockey-loving painter — asked if he could attend a women’s group meeting because he was so eager to learn all he could about his Creator. Mike could have worried that people might tease him for being the only man to break the gender barrier of this Bible study, but his love for God exceeded any concern about what other people might think.
If, like me, you were around in the early 1990s, you may remember a Gatorade commercial encouraging us to “be like Mike.” The ad refers to Michael Jordan, but we would all do well to “be like Mike” Lawson and be known for our love for God and our desire for a deeper relationship with Him.
Mike also wrote songs reflecting his love for God. Some of his lyrics were included in the funeral bulletin: “O Lord, can we talk? I need what you have for me and my family. Your grace gives me boldness to come to your throne. Your Spirit tells me I’m not alone.”
Mike wasn’t perfect (who is?), but he lived out the Free Methodist Church – USA mission “to love God, love people and make disciples.” If you’re not a fan of mission statements, consider instead the words of Jesus (referencing Deuteronomy 6:5): “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
This issue is devoted to the theme “Love God.” You may be thinking sarcastically: “Oh, ‘Love God.’ That’s a really controversial stand for a Christian magazine to take.” But it’s one thing to profess love for God, and it’s another for your life to reflect that love. As 1 John 4:20 states, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
In this issue, we’ll look at the steadfast nature of our loving God who deserves to be loved back. You may have heard that laughter is the best medicine, but Dr. David Kendall gives a prescription stating that love is, in fact, the medicine we most need. As Steven Bruns (one of two Free Methodist college professors writing for this issue) states, “It does not matter what we profess to believe. If we do not have love, we have nothing.” Finally, don’t miss how Free Methodists in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest are acting out that love by connecting with immigrants and refugees in their communities.
Jeff Finley has served as the managing editor of Light + Life since 2011. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media. He serves as a volunteer youth leader at John Wesley Free Methodist Church.
- Feature: Love That Won’t Let Go
- Bishops: Love Like Medicine
- Action: Welcoming With God’s Love
- Discipleship: Called to Love
- News: Meet the Director of Global Advocacy
- News: Dinners With Refugees