Posts Tagged ‘The Law of Love’

Luke 14:25-33: Discipleship

Tuesday, May 23, 2023Grow.-Plant.-Discipleship

If we ever forget what it means to be a disciple, here is a quick summary; and some of these sayings are difficult to take.

Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

We can see that following the Master means that God must be before all else, even our most intimate and longest relationships. I do not believe that Jesus is telling us that family is not important. I do not believe that we are to reject family and friends in order to be a good disciple. I do believe that if we must choose to pretend that all is well in an intimate relationship when it is not, then we must do what we know to be correct. We must exit this relationship but (and this is the hard part) we must continue to leave ourselves open to the possibility that the abusive people in our lives will transform.

Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?

We must pray that the impossible people and situations in our lives become temples for the Indwelling of the Spirit. We must pray that those who have abused us will find a softening in their hearts and an unbending in their necks. We may not walk away completely and cleanly, because Jesus does not walk away completely.

Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. 

What we reflect on here is this: in the calculus for building a good and holy temple we must not only plan for the solid foundation and protective walls, but the windows and doors which let in the light, the voice of God as it travels on the wind, and the people who come and go in our lives. We must allow for both solitude and community, justice and compassion. This is the Way of Discipleship.

Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.

DiscipleshipWe do not travel this way alone. As we peel away those people and influences which lead us astray rather than toward God, we look for fellow travelers of The Way. Yet even these friendships cannot come between ourselves and the one who created us. And even though we will always need one another’s help in remaining open to the resolution of the impossible people and situations, it is God who acts and moves in these fellow pilgrims to bring us pockets of consolation and refuge. As long as we place God before us each day, we will have a true path. As long as we abide by the Law of Love, we will know which way is the true way. This we need not doubt.

Each day, in each prayer we ask that God make us good and loyal servants. Each day, in each prayer we ask that God continue to show us the Way of discipleship.

This is the cost of discipleship. We do this in Jesus’ name. This is the cost of kingdom-building. We do this with and in the Creator. This is the cost of living in love. We do this through the transformative healing of the Holy Spirit. We will want to figure the cost of this way of life. Let us consider it well.  Amen.

Image from: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2014/06/23/4-marks-of-biblical-discipleship/ and http://www.safercommunitiesministry.org/programs/discipleship/

Adapted from a favorite from May 12, 2008.

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James 5:7-11: A Prayer for Patience

Saturday, October 29, 2022

We have considered the difficulty of blooming in early or late rains. We have pondered the mercy we find in God’s Law of Love, and we have reflected on the importance of patience in our lives as we learn to live out mercy and humility in an authentic way. Ultimately, each of us, indeed all of us are called. Each of us and all of us are gathered in. Each of us and all of us are offered the gift of transformation. But first we must learn and exercise the practice of patience.

It is easy to define patience as a virtue and still easier to see impatience in others. Patience as a concept can be diminished to a simple exercise that we practice once in a while when there is no great demand placed on us. The more difficult task is to act continually with a patience that is not bitter or nostalgic; and it is a challenge for many of us to operate from humility, to trust God without question.

When asked to place our lives in God’s hands, we must be ready to humble ourselves before God’s plan, to trust God in both simple and grave matters, and to obey God’s call with a grateful and happy heart. This is no small request. And so we pray.

heart-shaped-bible-pageLoyal and healing God, lead us in simple obedience of your well-devised plan.

Powerful and eternal God, guide us in trusting you alone above all else.

Humble and tender God, help us to persevere in patient living with you.

We thank you for coming to us as our human brother, Jesus. We are grateful for the abiding consolation of your Spirit. And we rest in the assurance that the humility and patience that Jesus shows us is The Way we ourselves must follow. May we today and all days live and act in patience. Amen.

Images from: https://www.happierhuman.com/patience-affirmations/ and https://unsplash.com/s/photos/bible-heart

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James 4:11-12: Honoring the Message

Friday, October 21, 2022stone-heart

Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk.

And this is the Law that Jesus bring to us, The Law of Love. No matter what we hear or see, we must continue to do as Jesus does. Speak well of others, even when we find it difficult to do so.

You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it.

And this is the message that the Spirit creates in us. No matter how deeply we feel the injustices of the world, we are to witness, watch and wait on the Spirit.

God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?

And this is James’ message to us. Not that our lives are predestined and predetermined, but that our lives are integral parts of God’s marvelous plan for creation. No matter the harm we experience, God will turn all injury, maltreatment and sorrow to goodness. No matter the darkness, Jesus brings light sufficient to pierce it. No matter the appearance of our individual and collective lives, the Spirit has only healing and transformation in mind for our hearts of stone. Jesus shows us how to soften our hearts and unbend our stiff necks in order to hear God’s message. Let us honor this message today.

When we compare varying versions of these two verses and listen for the words of the Spirit, we allow God’s message to visit us today. 

Image from: http://girltomom.com/nature/hearts-in-nature

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

12-lamedh[2]Psalm 119:89-96


Your word, Lord, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens . . . Had your teachings not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction . . . I have seen the limits of all perfection, but your command is without bounds.

There is no true perfection but God’s and so the flawlessness God asks of us is that we persist in following the Law of Love. Our own perfection lies not in our living life without error, but in our determined turning to God in all things.

God says: Do not tax yourself with the millions of details that fill your day. This is not where true perfection lies. Do not punish yourself for the slips you make along life’s path. The pain of those errors is punishment enough. Do not expect that you will live a life without fault. What I ask is that you always turn and return to me. And then I ask that you forgive one another as I have forgiven you . . . no matter how difficult this may be. In your willingness to attempt this following of my Law of Love . . . in this lies your perfection.

We need not create a world of guilt for ourselves and others. When we read the many parables through which Jesus still teaches us today, we understand that God is always willing to love us no matter how grave our error, and that we are asked to extend this same forgiveness to others.

Peter asks Jesus: Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times? Jesus answers: I say to you not seven times but seventy-seven times.  (Matthew 18:21-22)

To learn more about the letter Lamedh, perfection, and the contemplation of the heart, click on the image above, or go to: http://ascribelog.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/limited-perfection-psalm-119-lamedh/ or http://www.inner.org/hebleter/lamed.htm

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Friday, June 26, 2020

the_light_door[1]Opening Doors

Psalm 1:5-6

The wicked will not stand firm at the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. 

We live by a code that is judgmental and vengeful.  Jesus came to live among us in order that we might learn to live in a new way, The Way of Love.  Old Testament thinkers might want to exact an eye for an eye; New Testament thinkers will want to pray for the wicked as Jesus advises.

God says: I know that the temptation is great to condemn those who do evil but I alone will judge.  What I ask of you for those who are lost is your prayer and intercession.  I know that you desire to know me so that you and I might truly be one.  I know that you work hard at quelling your desire for revenge.  I love for this struggle to remain close to me. And I know that you struggle to open closed doors so that my light might enter.  I love you for your persistence and dedication to The Way of Love despite the obstacles it presents to you.

Type the word light in the blog search bar and explore God’s world of love.  Or click on the image above and explore God’s creation through photography.

Tomorrow, a prayer with Psalm 1 . . .

Image from: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/Pakistan/East/Islamabad/islamabad/photo1057299.htm

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Acts 21:17-26Going Up to Jerusalem: Part I

Over the last seven days we have spent time with a number of people who were with Jesus in his final hours.

Today we begin a series of reflections about the place where this amazing story took place, Jerusalem, the sacred city of the Jewish people, the holy place of God.

jerusalem model

As I understand the expression, all Jews go up to Jerusalem because it is the holy mount – and the temple is placed on the bit of elevation which there is in the city.  Therefore, whether arriving from north, south, east or west, all Jews go up to Jerusalem.  We see Paul, Luke and other Jesus followers go up to Jerusalem to stay with Mnason the Cyriot, a disciple of the Christ, and to meet and speak with James – the leader of the church in this capital city and by most accounts, the brother of Jesus.  What follows in today’s reading is a bird’s eye view into one of the early church conflicts.

Paul has met with Jesus – the details of this encounter are outlined in various places in Acts and in his epistles and a good study Bible will lead you through those readings – and he tells everyone that he has been called by the Christ to spread the good news about the universal salvation which is available to all human beings.  The Christian Jews have a problem with this – and there is irony in this story for me – they realize, know, understand and act on the idea that they are the new church, fulfilling the new covenant through Christ, replacing the Old Guard of the temple Pharisees, being co-executors with God of the plan that we see initiated in Genesis 1.  These Jerusalem Jewish Christians see that a new Way must replace the old one – the New Law which has been written on hearts will replace and fulfill the Old Law which was written on stone tablets.  They also believe that the only way to attain the salvation promised by Jesus is first through the Mosaic or Old Law, and then through the New.  The irony here is that they wrangle with the Pharisees and Sadducees (the former believe in keeping themselves separate, apart and pure while the later do not believe in resurrection or life after death) who maintain a strangle-hold control over the temple, its rites and monies.  This Old Guard of aristocratic Jews believe that they are to continue to control the Jewish church structure and they will do this by jettisoning the important message which Jesus brings: the New Law of Love which does not rely on the temple structure, the rites and the cash.

The Jewish Old Guard sees their control of power, prestige and money falling away because if this new Law of Love is true, each human now has a direct link to God through the resurrected man Jesus.  The Old Guard is no longer needed in their role as intercessor.  Of course they prefer the Old Testament God of separation from the unclean, maintenance of outward signs of purity, and demanding adherence to temple rituals to this New Testament God of personal intimacy, maintenance of both outward and inner purity, and a freedom to worship in the interior temple which we are to prepare and maintain through a lifetime.  They prefer the structure over which they have control to the one over which they have none and in which each person finds his or her own relationship with God through a life of prayer and living in unity with all.  They fear the presence of Jesus resurrected, of Christ’s Mystical Body.

Tomorrow: Unity achieved through conflict . . . when we go up to Jerusalem

Image from: http://vhoagland.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/where-did-it-happen/

To learn more about Jerusalem and the many places that tell the stories of Jesus’ last days, visit Victor’s Place blog and read journey back through this pilgrim’s journal as we approach Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  

Today’s post is part of the December 16, 2007 Noontime reflection.

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Sunday, January 26, 2013

Ezekiel 5: Considering Our Image of God – Part I

Cunieform tablet mentioing Jehoiachin in Babylon

Berlin: Cunieform tablet mentioning Jehoiachin in Babylon

It is no mystery why so many scripture readers see God as an angry deity to be placated or even avoided.  We must admit that if the supreme being of Ezekiel 5 were the only God we knew . . . we might not seek an intimate relationship with our creator.  This castigating image is one in which God stands in severe judgment, metes out dreadful and complete consequences, and uses his overwhelming strength against nearly powerless creatures who have broken his laws.  We can see why so many cringe at the thought of knowing God intimately . . . or of God knowing us at all.

I will inflict punishments in your midst . . . These verses might terrify anyone looking for consolation for the only solace here comes through a neurotic obedience to an enormous number of laws that are sometimes contradictory.   We can see why these words might panic an already fragile soul into flight; and yet we remember . . . Jesus read this prophecy.  And Jesus lived his life as a practicing Jew, adhering to the Mosaic Law.  If we allow ourselves to pause, we also remember . . . Jesus tells us that he comes to supersede and to fulfill the old law rather than negate it.  Jesus comes to us to let us know that in the end there is only one law, The Law of Love.  But how do we juxtapose this thinking with the verses we read today?

This week we have spent time reflecting with 2 Kings; we have witnessed the unfolding of events which Ezekiel rails against.  These events lead to the destruction of the kingdom, the exportation of God’s people, and the scattering of the Jewish faithful.  What do we learn from our reading?

When we explore who Ezekiel is and to whom he writes, we find some skepticism about the identity of the author.  This frequently happens with ancient texts but when we search commentary we discover that most scholars believe the writer to be of a priestly family taken into exile with King Jehoiachin in 597 B.C.E.  He was married and is believed to have had a degree of freedom while in exile, even having his own house in a village called Tel Abib on the river Chebar.  He lived well, benefited from the structure yet saw its corruption.  As we read his prophecy we understand that he writes at God’s insistence and this fact enables us “to appreciate better how he could be objective and distant and yet intensely present with his audience”.  (Senior RG 337)  Ezekiel writes these words that come from God, rather than his own initiation, in order to transform and save. We sense his urgency in wanting to make an impression on his readers . . . and this he unquestionably does.

If we allow ourselves to spend time with Ezekiel in the context of the New Testament and if we are honest . . . we suddenly see that in viewing life as a race to be won, we hurry to placate a god who is extreme and unreasonable.  We panic, we look away, we scrabble against one another in our rush to show God how good and obedient we are, how much better we are than others.  And we forget to look at the Spirit within each of our neighbors whom we so anxiously judge.  Sadly, we fail to experience God in others.  We frighten ourselves and we cannot see God as the constant, merciful, just, forgiving and adoring lover.   We miss God’s capacity and willingness to absolve.  We mistake God’s passionate embrace for the chains of doom and damnation.  We miss entirely God’s warmth, safety and goodness . . . until we remember Jesus.

Tomorrow . . . some of Jesus’ words to live by when we consider our image of God.

Post image from: http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nebuchadnezzar/anet308.html

For more on Ezekiel, visit the Ezekiel – Dry Bones Come to Life page on this blog, or go to: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/ezekiel-dry-bones-come-to-life/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 337. Print.  


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Romans 10: Disobedient and Contentious People

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

With this Favorite from November 17, 2010, we take a final look at Jesus as the Life we wish to live.

Paul explains here that faith has a way of saving us in a way that the Mosaic Law does not . . . and never will.  It is impossible to reach heaven or to be one with God if we live a life full of checklists that attend to the duties prescribed by a structure.  It is equally impossible to not be saved if we live our lives in Christ . . . if we live a life of acting according the Law of Love . . . even when this Law puts us in danger.

Footnotes explain the references to Old Testament verses, and they also remind us that to speak as Paul does here – or to tell and enact the Gospel story as Paul reminds us we are asked to do – often put us in danger.

In the first century, and in certain parts of the world today, being Christian brings exclusion from the wider society and even the death penalty.  We will need to rely on Christ once we respond to the call to tell the story of salvation.

Among many cliques and groups both now and in Paul’s day, living a life of faith brings scorn and derision.  We will need to rely on Christ once we commit to living a life of fidelity to Jesus’ Way.

In families, work places, schools, and any places where we humans gather, living a life of merciful justice and open trust brings ridicule and disdain.  We will need to rely on Christ once we live as fully in him as he asks.

Paul warns us about all of this today.  The easy, comfortable life spent in and for itself must fall away.  The disciplined life of service that we are called to live is not appealing to rebellious and difficult people. And so we have this clear choice before us: to opt for contention and disobedience, or to choose freedom and salvation in Christ.

Image from: http://lwccyork.com/blog/series/this-is-the-way-of-jesus/ 

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1 Timothy 1: The Duality of Love

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Over the last week or so we have explored the dualities we find in creation and in God’s person of creator, redeemer and spirit. Today we explore our openness to infinite duality with this favorite from September 17, 2008.

Fidelity to the Message

Restrain false and useless teaching.  This is the message of the first chapter of 1 Timothy.  Do not nurture the thinking that does not contribute to love within the community.  By maintaining faith, we open the conduit through which God’s plan comes to us – we receive revelation through fidelity to God.

Among the list of false teachings we see the lifestyle of homosexuals criticized.  This thinking ought to sadden modern Christians who have the benefit of science to know that our sexual identity and our sexual behaviors are formed before birth.  In other words, we have before us the scientifically proven facts that we cannot change our sexual orientation any more than we can our eye color.  Of course, in this ancient culture of Timothy, which prized reproduction as an assurance of the survival of the human race, homosexual behavior would be looked upon as a waste of creation, an aberrant perspective, a troubling and even insidious lifestyle.  Today we know better.

Despite what seems to be a difference in opinion, the key to understanding God’s plan lies in this opening chapter of 1 Timothy: we must remain faithful to God in order to understand fully his message Anything that gets in the way of a full and open understanding must be jettisoned, i.e.; the belief that our sexual determination is an emotion or a choice.  Life is a process, and we occupy a tiny speck on this spectrum of coming to the fullness of God’s message.  The evolution of our species is a scientific tenet, proven and documented.  We know with certainty that twenty first century humankind has changed in form and chemistry from our earliest ancestors.  When we think of God’s plan, we understand that we are finite in our present form; we do not have the capacity to know all that has gone before and all that will follow.  When we pause to reflect, we might begin to understand our capacity, or incapacity, to enter into the intricacies of the infinite.  The more we open our minds to Christ, the more we will understand the complexity of God’s message, or in other words, we must remain faithful to God in order to understand fully God’s message

The key to growth in the Spirit is this, as we have been told in this chapter: fidelity brings about understanding.  The more we cleave to the Law of Love, the more we will understand that our comprehension of that law must grow and develop.  We return to the original thought: we must remain faithful to God in order to understand fully God’s message.  Does the message change?  No, but our human capacity to understand the divine morphs and grows as we ourselves grow, both as individuals and as a community.

The letters to Timothy and Titus present a manual on the formation and maintenance of a Christian community; but we must place these teachings within the body of science we have available to us today.  And we must move forward and away from the false teachings to which we may want to cling for comfort.  We must remain faithful to God in order to understand fully God’s message. . . and we must remain in God so that God’s message comes to us through, and of and in God. 

Image from: http://regeneratemagazine.com/2016/12/rekindled-love/

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