Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Once Upon a Sunday

I went to a new church recently. It is a small congregation but has a number of people with special needs there. They are well equipped to walk alongside a family living with disability.

The pastor's message was titled, "Love as Jesus Loves Us." I didn't get my hopes up too high since I've heard this thing about 87 times growing up in church. I was pleasantly surprised when two things jumped out at me. 

Jumping Thing 1
The pastor broke down the following passages in a way that helped me understand anew the absolute necessity of love.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 NIV

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV

Here's the breakdown:
Greatest - Love God
Second - Love Neighbor
New - Love Believers

I think having it simplified help me feel the weight of love. It's easy to treat love as an after thought. It is to be given supreme focus and attention. Love. 

Jumping Thing 2

God does not ask us to do what He Himself isn't willing to do. Jesus truly understands the hard stuff, because He has done it, too. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

As I perused the additional verses the pastor pulled to demonstrate the manner in which we are to love the word "as" grabbed my attention. I've underlined it below to emphasize it.

and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2 NIV

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 NIV

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7 NIV

As I read these verses another one came to mind from Romans:

For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29 HCSB

Alright, the reason why this thrills me so is these days I feel impossibly far away from conforming to the image of His Son, Jesus. The only thing it seems we have in common is dark hair, and my color is by Clairol. But Romans 8:29 is pretty much a guarantee that I will end up Christ-like. If God pre-destines me to be something, I'm going to be it. All of those other verses that talk about love and kindness and compassion and forgiveness and acceptance are going to happen for me. Not because I'm a rockstar. But because those are Christ's qualities. And His qualities are mine. Eventually.


Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm contrained to be.
- from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Your jumping point #2 is resonating with me as it falls right in line with something I read this week in a study I'm doing. The author says, "Because the Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son, He always believes God. When He fills us, our fleshly faithlessness will yield to His belief system, and we get to possess and exercise it as our own."

    I want to draw closer to God, but I don't always know how to do that. But as I submit to the Holy Spirit within me, that will naturally happen as his (her?) nature is allowed to transform me.


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