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Posts Tagged ‘Law of Love’


Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part I

Sunday, February 19, 2017god-is-love1

For the next several days we will explore Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount. Today, what does Jesus tell us about the freedom we find when we stay clear of the temptation to seek revenge?

Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: “Don’t hit back at all”. If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

Jesus challenges us to live generously; yet what does this mean?

This is impossible, we say to ourselves as we hear his words. And a life lived in this way will never work. Who will protect me and my loved ones if I do not? How will I keep the bullies at bay? And how will I avoid being everyone’s doormat? This is impossible we repeat.  And then . . .

confucious-revenge-two-gravesGod says: I am quite aware that many of you see Jesus’ suggestion as an idealistic, and even ridiculous, plan for living. You see the Law of Freedom as a threat to your autonomy. You see the world viewed from this perspective of love – without defenses and using liberal amounts of revenge – as childish. But I say to you that it is childlike. I do not ask you to go into the world completely open to assault; rather, I ask that you use my enormous power, presence and love as a bulwark and as your rock of safety. I ask you to trust me more than you trust your own resources and your little powers. I also ask that you replace your bluster and bravado with my own call to love those who hate you and wish you harm. When you surrender to my Law of Freedom, you give up all pretense of power – and yet you will have more power than you ever imagined. When you remain in and with me, you need not build the walls you falsely believe will protect you. I ask that you put away your childish ways of dependence of self and replace them the childlike life of generosity and openness. I tell you that this new interaction with the world brings you a new freedom . . . and even a new authority, the authority of my love that surpasses all.

Jesus challenges us to live generously. Do we see ourselves as able to follow this call?

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Matthew 5:10-11: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IV

Saturday, January 14, 2017matthew-5-11

Jesus proposes that we set aside our desire for honor and fame. Today we consider the qualities of steadfastness and fidelity that Jesus tells us are essential if we want to follow his Way.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity.

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. (GNT)

This picture of the world sees mockery and hatred against us as a consequence of our persistence in adhering to the Law of Love.

Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will say bad things about you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do these things to you, you are happy. (ICB)

This view of the world sees suffering for Christ as an antidote to animosity and evil.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees rejection for God’s sake as the deepest kind of blessing.

The Gospels show us how Jesus hopes to prepare each of us to follow him. They show us that God will persist in transforming evil with that goodness. They show us that the Spirit abides in loving understanding that the Way of Love is difficult but unconditionally rewarding.

How do we persist in our hope to put aside honor for the authentic recognition that each of us is loved beyond measure? How willing are we to ignore the mockery, persecution, exclusion and hatred of others . . . and greet all with the open arms of Christ’s love?

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand that persecution becomes blessing when we agree to follow Christ.

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Matthew 5:3: The Inverted Kingdom – Part I

Wednesday, January 11, 2017poor-in-spirit

We have heard the words, “Do not fear”. We have struggled to recognize the Christ who accompanies us always. For the next few days we will reflect on the structure of society Jesus proposes when he asks us to forego power and wealth, pleasure and honor. We think through the new Law of Love that supersedes the old Mosaic Law. And we spend a bit of time considering the inverted nature of God’s Kingdom.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees the broken-hearted as close to God.

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! (GNT)

This picture of the world sees the broken-hearted as central to God’s design.

Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. (ICB)

This view of the world sees the wealth as non-essential in God’s plan.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees wealth as a barrier to intimacy with God.

The Gospels show us how God’s Word walks among the poor in spirit. They show us that Jesus makes a choice to dwell with the lame, the mourning, the betrayed and the ignored. They show us that the Spirit is always hovering along the margins of society, rather than with those who hold great amounts of wealth.

How do we see ourselves as fitting into God’s designs and plans?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we open ourselves to the joy of living in poverty with Jesus and the millions of poor who people the earth. 

For more on Jesus’ teaching and experience on poverty, click on the image above or  visit: http://stevesbasics.blogspot.com/2013/11/blessed-are-poor-in-spirit.html

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Acts 17:26: Loving Others – Part VI

First Sunday of Advent

November 27, 2016hands-touching

As we enter the season of hope, we reflect on – and determine to act in – God’s call to love one another. 

From one human being God created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. (GNT)

We must never doubt that each of us is integral to God’s economy. Each of us is endowed with specific gifts that are essential to God’s plan. All of us – not matter how diverse – are loved and cherished by God.

From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live. (NRSV)

It may be difficult for some of us to accept the fact that all peoples are loved in the eyes of God; yet despite their many formal and informal religions, God asks only one commandment: that we respect and love one another.

The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. (MSG)

It may be difficult for some of us to accept the fact that both genders, male and female, are equal in the eyes of God. It may be even more difficult to accept that God loves those of mixed or ambiguous genders; yet despite our many creeds and goals, Christ asks that we follow him and do as he does: living the Law of Love.

And God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (ESVUK)

It may be difficult for some of us to believe that the Spirit lives in each of us, creating a holy indwelling that we are meant to share. When we are asked to love one another, we are asked to love even those who do us harm. We are meant to return hatred with blessing, greed with generosity, and prejudice with charity. All the rest, we place in the hands of God.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we begin to see how difficult – and simple – it is, to love others as God does. 

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Romans 7:14-25: Loving Others – Part V

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (MSG)

christ-imagePaul describes something that happens to each of us. Our best intentions succumb to our desire to control our environment. Our most outrageous hopes falter when we face ominous obstacles alone. Our deepest faith falters when the reality of the world crowds our thinking. We cannot understand how loving those who hate us will bring an end to all that plagues society.

Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? (CJB)

Despite all that looks dark in the world, Christ brings us light. Despite all that threatens to pull us under, the Spirit raises us up.

This, then, is my condition: on my own I can serve God’s law only with my mind. (GNT)

When events loom, when life overwhelms, when hope abandons and faith cannot abide, we are left with the only law that matters. Christ’s unfailing, always-saving, eternal Law of Love.

For a reflection on these verses, click on the image above or visit: https://frted.wordpress.com/tag/luke-631-36/

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Matthew 5:44-48: Loving Others – Part II

Wednesday, November 23, 2016love-your-enemies

You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbor — and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (CJB)

We have spent time with these verses before but we do well to spend a bit of time with again.

Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! (GNT)

We have reflected before on the importance of loving those who hate and we do well to reflect again.

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

matthew-5-44-48God says: I know how difficult it is to follow my son and act in this Law of Love. This is the very reason I come to walk among you as one of you and not as a distant God. This is why I spend time with the margins of your societies. And it is why I ask you to dwell there with me. Do not lose heart. Have courage. Have I not prepared a Way for you? Do I not accompany you on your way? Do I not love you more than I love myself? And do I not want you to be with me forever?

For millennia Jesus has told us how we are to act when our sisters and brothers hate us.

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who speak evil about you, and persecute you. (JUB)

For millennia we have heard that Jesus will abide, heal and comfort us, his little children. Let us behave each day as though we believe this to be so.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words, we begin to understand that Jesus gives us sound advice; we begin to recognize that Jesus’ request brings us closer to him in every way; and we begin to find a way to love those who have done us such damage.

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1 & 2 Chronicles: Our Sacred History – Part VI

Wednesday, May 25, 2016gods-love-story-1-728

A Prayer in celebration of our story

We have read about the women and men who bring us an accounting of the rise and fall of the human journey along God’s Way. We see the acts and hear the thoughts of those who are willing to share their experiences – both the ugly and the beautiful – of their encounters with the Living God. Today we reflect on all that we have learned as we pray.

Singular and gathering God, we know that you are the beginning and end of our faith. We realize this in your Alpha and Omega presence in Christ among us.

Patient and persistent God, we see that you are the form and substance of all hope that is true and everlasting. We see this in all of creation that constantly strives to return to you.

Healing and transforming God, we understand that nothing matters and no one exists in a world without your Law of Love. We experience this mercy and forgiveness in the goodness that you pull from each harm that we commit or have done unto us.

Teach us to also forgive. Lead us always into the light. Protect us from all that would obliterate us. Love us into your goodness. Bring us your truth. Counsel us in your healing and nurturing way. Re-tell us the stories of our shared and sacred history. Shelter us in the warmth of your embrace. And keep us always ever close to you. Amen.

finger paint heartThe two books of Chronicles have four major portions that show us very human leaders; they illustrate the rise and fall of a people and nation. These verses tell us how division and exile can lead to forgiveness and return. Our sacred history shows us how we will want to learn to replace pride with humility. Our shared story guides us in moving from fear to love. These holy stories are treasures we will want to examine often, and share with the world.

For more on this amazing story, enter the words God’s Love Letter into the blog search bar and explore.

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John 9Against the Light

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Siloam Pool

Siloam Pool

Adapted from a May 14, 2010 favorite.

In the opening verses of this Chapter, Jesus begins to explain that misfortune or disability is not a sign of our sin; it is only misfortune or disability.  Jesus cures a man of blindness as if to make a point.  A miracle occurs yet in verses 8 through 12 we see how the people doubt that the cure has taken place: No, he just looks like him. In verse 13 the Pharisees become involved.  The healing happened on a Sabbath; work has occurred.  This is a transgression for which the temple leaders must have an accounting. This man is not from God.  The healed man is called a second time and asked what has happened, to which he replies  in verse 24.  I told you already and you did not listen.  Why do you want to hear it again?  The Pharisees continue to question and he replies: This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes . . . If this man were not from God he would not be able to do anything. This is a challenge to them.  They cannot comprehend – or accept – the miracle before them and so . . . Then they threw him out.

In the final verses of this chapter Jesus speaks to the healed man to assure him that they have not broken God’s true law – the Law of Love.  Explaining that he is the light that has come into this world of darkness, Jesus gives his listeners something to think about: I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.  This tweaks the Pharisees – who have refused to see and accept this cure as coming from God.  Jesus says to them: If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, “We see”, so your sin remains.  Jesus points out to these men that they have seen the truth and reject it . . . so that they might believe themselves to be in control.  They irony is this:  They were never in control as they have imagined themselves to be.

Christ Healing the Blind Man at Bethsaida: Gioacchino Assereto

Christ Healing the Blind Man at Bethsaida: Gioacchino Assereto

In this story we are again in the world of inversion where up is down and down is up, poor is good, disability is a plus.  Jesus is the light and the Pharisees set themselves against this healing force.  We have the opportunity to examine our reaction to miracles.  Do we accept the gift of life which each of us is offered?  Or do we put aside our petty haranguing with one another in order to unite in Christ?  Are we stubborn Pharisees or are we blind people cured?

Do we flail against the light and insist that what we see is not really happening?  Can we accept in confidence the gift of healing and give back to God our total trust?

If this man were not from God he would not be able to do anything . . . so when the light enters our lives as it so often does let us not thrash against the goodness and the warmth. 

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John 13:31-35: Loving Judas

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Caravaggio: The Taking of Jesus Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

Caravaggio: The Taking of Jesus
Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

We have reflected on seeking, finding and recognizing Jesus. We have thought about Jesus as God’s Word in human form among us.  We have explored what God must mean when coming to live with us and one of us and we have been incredulous as we see how God, through Jesus, converts the impossible to the possible. Perhaps we remain incredulous. Today we see Jesus act in a most challenging way . . .

When Judas had left them, Jesus said . . .

We cannot escape betrayal, abandonment, deception or chaos. These disruptive forces must be seen for what they are. When in doubt we might follow Jesus, the one who knows both pain and joy, corruption and peace.

Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: Where I go, you are not able to come.

Jesus does not stop Judas from reporting his whereabouts to the authorities. Instead, he prepares those who love him. When confronted with our own Judas, we might follow Jesus, the one who knows both sorrow and rejoicing, evil and mercy.

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.

Jesus does not stop us from doing evil. Rather, he calls us to his side, to accompany him as a child follows a loving parent. When lost in our world of ego and self-orientation, we might follow Jesus, the one who knows both cruelty and kindness, hate and love.

When we suffer at the hands of Judas, let us remember to follow Jesus in love.

Compare differing versions of these verses today, and allow God’s Word to bring reconciliation so that we might better love the Judas in our lives. Or enter the words Judas or betrayal into the blog search bar and explore. 

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