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Posts Tagged ‘love one another’


Deuteronomy 23: Fruit that will Remain

Friday, May 19, 2017

This Favorite from May 29, 2011 reminds us that just as Peter decides to remain faithful to Christ the shepherd, so might we. Just as Peter works to plant himself in Christ so might we. And just as Peter becomes fruit that remains in Christ . . . so do we. 

When we read these many rules that try to cover all the permutations of a concept, we can understand how societies become top-heavy and stray too far from the hope that originally brought them together.  If we need legions of lawyers to tell us what we believe, we know that tyranny has taken hold and that power has become more important than people.  When control is the driving force in our lives rather than understanding or discernment, someone or something has gone too far; and this is why the simple elegance of The Word that Jesus brings to us – Love one another as I have loved youcannot be outdone.  There is no greater Law, no greater authority on earth or in heaven.  Love is all there is.  Love is everything that is.

I am always startled to hear people describe the connection they have with God as if it were some sort of membership in some kind of club.  Jesus is not looking to have the greatest number of fans or friends.  He is not trying to beat Satan by some specific amount in the tally of souls won or lost.  He is not trying to best his last year’s soul-count by a certain margin.  Jesus looks to redeem all those whom the Father has sent to him.  Jesus asks us to bear fruit just as he bears fruit.  Jesus is not issuing passports or validating passes.  Jesus calls; we are to respond.  And when we do, we must know that this is difficult work.

From Friday’s Gospel (John 15:12-17): I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.  It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another.

From yesterday’s Gospel (John 15:18-21): Jesus said to his disciples: If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world that hates you.

And today’s Gospel (John 14:15-21) begins with this same message in the event we did not hear it the first time: If you love me, you will keep my commandments . . . you know him because he remains with you, and will be in you.

We who believe in Jesus do not belong to an elite organization.  There are no dues to pay, no membership to renew.  All that is asked of us is that we be open to the Spirit and that we allow that Spirit to find a dwelling place in us.  And we do this so that we might bear much fruit . . . fruit that will remain.

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Isaiah 10: Social Injustice

Thursday, January 26, 2017 social-injustice

As we conclude our look at God’s inverted kingdom, we consider a Favorite from June 10, 2009, and we reflect on how Jesus might deal with the social injustice we find in our societies.

Isaiah 10 is book-ended by words that we hear so often during the Advent season: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom.  These words remind us that someone is coming great enough to take all of us in . . . and indeed, this one is already among us.  Today’s Noontime reminds us of what pulls us away from God and it draws clear imagery with Assyria and Sennacherib as vehicles not only of pain and loss, but ultimate transformation . . . if we but follow the Light, the Christ.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

Isaiah tells us clearly that when we trust the Lord we need not tremble before overwhelming odds.  If we move out of the darkness to stand in the light and obey the voice within, we have nothing to fear.  Do not fear the Assyrian, though he strikes you with a rod, and raises his staff against you. 

Isaiah reminds us that though we are small, we are also mighty . . . when we place our fear where it is best handled, in God’s capable hands.  The tall of stature are felled, and the lofty ones brought low; the forest thickets are felled with the ax. 

Isaiah repeats a theme often heard with the prophets: those who can remain faithful through the holocaust will be standing when all others have blown away like chaff in the wind.  The remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no more lean upon him who struck them; but they will lean upon the Lord . . . a remnant will return . . . only a remnant will return.

Allowing injustice to happen without speaking or witnessing is the broad path taken by many; but it is not the marrow path taken by the remnant.  As Jesus tells us in Matthew (7:3) and Luke (13:24), most of us will succumb to a system that allows injustice for many the sake of the comfort of a few.  This remnant that remains in God will have to bend before the force of the storm, but all of this bending will be worthwhile.  This is the message that Isaiah brings to us: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

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John 15:12-17: The Inverted Kingdom – Part XV

Wednesday, January 25, 2017loa-logo_heart-small-e1457054980226

Over the last few days, we have seen how Jesus lives his life in an inverted way.

My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. (GNT)

All the days of our lives, Jesus asks us to a live in a way that turns the world on its head.

This is my command: that you keep on loving each other just as I have loved you. (CJB)

Jesus calls us to a life of inversion with patience and mercy.

I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. (MSG)

God says: The call to inversion asks you to put aside all power, wealth, fame, status and glory that you have amassed for yourselves. This call asks you to look at world from the bottom rather than from the top. When you put your feet into the shoes of the homeless and abandoned, your priorities change, and these changes will bring about your transformation. When you see with your ears and speak with your eyes, you come to understand the inversion that actually lives in you. My Spirit nurtures a desire in you to tend to those who are broken and lost. Listen to the Spirit. My Spirit sustains your desire to show mercy and tempers your urges to seek revenge. Allow the Spirit to govern you. When you move toward the marginalized, you move into an inverted life. When you follow this one commandment that Jesus gives you, you move into the deepest part of my heart.

As we consider how to live an inverted life well, we remember the lessons of old stories and people, we recall the prophets and their words, and we rest in the Beatitudes and their embodiment in the person of Christ Jesus.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we feel the power of this inverted way of living.

 

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