I LOVE peaches. Especially the locally grown, Costco-brand kind, all sliced up into juicy wedges of perfection, sprinkled with raw sugar to draw out the nectar. But do you know what makes peaches even more perfect? Perfect with whipped cream and a cherry on top? Well, actually, just that (perhaps minus the cherry). Fresh, homemade whipped cream direct from the Summit Kitchen. I call this the “et cetera” effect. It is the extra ‘something’ that elevates a thing from merely ‘preferred’ to ‘favorite’. From a ‘hobby’ to an ‘obsession’. From a love of ‘convenience’ to one of ‘self-sacrifice’.
Paul first described the ‘et cetera’ effect in his first letter to the church of Thessalonians. In his call to sanctification (chapter 4) he writes:
“About brotherly love: you don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. In fact, you are doing this toward all the brothers in the entire region of Macedonia. But we encourage you, brothers, to do so even more.” (vs. 9-11 HCSB, emphasis added)
Love…et cetera. The call to love never stops for the believer walking in the footsteps of Jesus. How many times throughout the day do we stop? Stop short of unconditional? How often do we listen to the ‘reasonable’ councils of the world when it postures that as long as we perform the bare minimum so as to APPEAR selfless we have fulfilled our societal duties? How many of us love because it is the RIGHT thing to do, versus “loving” because we know in the future we can cash in their debt for a good deed?
It is the difference in a soccer game between playing the game “well” and leaving your bleeding heart out on the field.
“What is your love really made of???” is what the Devil screamed at Jesus as He stood on trial before the High Priest. And Jesus responded with an ‘et cetera’ to His love that shook the foundations of the world and changed it forever.
In the form of an old rugged cross.
And He calls us to follow in His footsteps. To make the ultimate sacrifice EVERY TIME. It is not a goal that we achieve and then move on with our lives. Rather, our strivings to love others as Christ loves them should DEFINE our lives.
So, today, when inconvenience and busyness tempt us to only do what is EXPECTED of us, remember the ‘et cetera’ effect that stretched the expanse of a roughened wooden cross.