Tag Archives: Loving like God

Sent

Pentecost
June 4, 2017

Scripture Reading: John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you. For what reason was Jesus sent? Marshaling all humans to work toward and achieve a world ruled by love seems to be the primary thrust of Jesus ministry. It started at creation when God the parent imprinted the ability to love in each of us. God’s abiding love shone forth in the gift of Jesus as a role model, a teacher, and ultimately as a Savior. Without question, we each have a major role to play. Love is impotent when it lies dormant; it multiplies exponentially with the smallest expression. What greater example of the phenomenon of love is there than an itinerate preacher, the questionable son of a carpenter who lived perhaps 33 years left the seeds 2,000 years ago that are still producing love today.

Is it human nature to expect a return on any investment we make? Can we love without ever seeing any return? God practices love without any promise of return. If God through Jesus Christ loves without strings, does he expect the same behavior from us? God’s love is based on the sure and certain knowledge that love always grows more love even when God saw his only son cruelly crucified on a cross.

O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be. 

O Light, that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be*.

Prayer: Let your love flow through me to others. Amen.

*Verses one and two from hymn O, Love that Wilt Not let Me go by George Matheson  see at https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/432

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Dead Works

purposeLiving in the Spirit
October 30, 2015

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 9:11-14

For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! –Hebrews 9:11-14

How do we identify dead works? Are they the routines we do through life whether they are accomplishing their purpose or not? Did they actually ever have a purpose? Are they something we inherited from our families or work or school that we do without thinking? Are they perfectly good activities that are not gaining the results desired?

I have been through a lot of management classes as a government employee trying to make government operate more like private business. The people who press these issues are missing one important ingredient: whether it is in private business’s mission statement or not its sole purpose is to make a profit. That singularity of purpose makes it easy, for example to walk away from a store, fire all the employees, and open another store somewhere else or drop the production of a product because it did not sell well but might have been of high quality even better than anything else like it.

The sole purpose of government is to provide for the common good. In a recession, while the economy takes a nose dive, public assistance programs increase, sometimes markedly, while their income source, tax collections, goes down. Government does not have the luxury of just walking away and saying we will see you when the economy turns around. I think we also would agree as tax payers that we want the best bridges for the long-trim rather than a trendy one that will have to be replaced sooner than later and hopefully before it collapses beneath our car’s weight.

Our purpose as children of God is to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Anything that separates us from that purpose is dead works. The challenge is to understand what it really means to love and then do it.

Prayer: Lord, you set examples of your love on page after page of our Bibles. Help us discern how your examples work in our world and then help us do it. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Universal Love

believeLiving in the Spirit
October 17, 2015

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:25-35

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ –Mark 10:25-35

I sometimes have trouble getting a thin thread through the eye of a needle much less a camel. Jesus uses this absurd illustration to describe the challenges faced by all of us who worship wealth to enter the kingdom of God. Now few, if any, of us actually proclaim we worship wealth but our actions speak louder than our words at times. There is hope, however, because God can do the impossible.

How do we order our lives to get our way of being in synch with what we state we believe? I am coming more and more to think that I over use that word believe. I was required to write my creed in a class once. It is a tough assignment wrestling with putting into words the bases of my faith, my trust in God. It could have been very long but as I wrote it got shorter and shorter because I kept folding little bits of belief into all-encompassing ideas. I just kept returning to loving God and loving the way Jesus loved. A laundry list of things I believed about God or Jesus or people or what is sin began to seem somewhat irrelevant. Sometimes our beliefs get in the way of our loving like Jesus. This happens most often with me, because when I form a belief I set the parameter for whom and how I love rather than accepting God’s universal love that has no boundaries.

Prayer: Open my heart to accepting the boundless wonder of your love is meant for everyone.  Forgive me when I insert my own judgment on what is worthy of my love. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Loving Across Cultures

LoveThyNeighborAsThyselfLiving in the Spirit
July 8, 2015

Scripture Reading: Psalm 24

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
   And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
   who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
   and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
   and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
   who seek the face of the God of Jacob. –Psalm 24:3-6

I have been struck recently by how much I am more a creator of the culture around me than I am of the Kingdom of God. This reality appears most often in an ingrained sense of entitlement that I take for granted as a white, middle class citizen of the United States. I mistake clean hands for obeying the letter of the law and a pure heart for my dedication to liberal agendas of society. I recycle when it is convenient for me, buy free trade coffee, probably as much because it taste better than it is the right thing to do. But I pay little attention to where my clothing was made or whether a child working 16 hour-days made them.

Self-righteousness comes in many forms and is insidious. We in the US practice it from all sides, liberal and conservation. Somehow we think our worth is established by our measuring one against the other as if God loves one more and one less because of what we believe. I cannot find that in the Bible anywhere. God’s love is unconditional and more importantly universal. The plumb line of righteousness is our love for God and one another.

There is nothing innately wrong with culture. Society is dependent on norms being established to make the flow of life less complicated. What is crucial is understanding the beauty of the many cultures across our earth and being attentive to those things within our culture, which are detrimental to our ability to love one another across cultures as God love us.

Prayer: Lord, make me aware of how my way of being impacts the way of being of others and when those impacts are detrimental to my loving the other, enable me to love like you do. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.