Tag Archives: Love

Don’t Forget to Do Good

What turbulent times we’re living in!

Wars, natural disasters, terrorists, nuclear threats.

Disturbing. Sad. Even frightening.

The challenge today for followers of Jesus is to keep from getting swept along in the mayhem. But how do we keep from getting distracted?  I’ve heard it said simply:  keep your eyes on Jesus.

As a follower of Jesus, we want to obey Him, obey His word and His teachings. We want to “remain in Him” and to have His words “remain in us.” There are so many instructions in the Bible – for those who read it, I’m sure you’ve noticed this. So how do we pick and choose which ones to follow and which are not necessarily key to right living?

Some say we don’t get to pick and choose.  And for the most part, I’d agree. But those same people are usually the ones who try to prove their righteousness, or religiosity, by obeying the law – God’s law and the laws of society.

But didn’t Jesus really turn all of that on its head?

He said there are really only two commandments:  Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, AND Love your neighbour as you love yourself. According to Jesus, these two things encompass all of the law and the commandments.

That brings me to something that has really gotten under my skin today.

As the people of God, we are to love, love, love.  Love each other.  Love God.  Love our enemies. (I’m not going to quote the multitudes of scriptures that I’ve referred to and will continue to refer to; that’s not the point today.)

Also, as God’s people (and here I mean those who love God and have given their lives to Him, just to clarify) we are to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.  We are to rescue those who are being swept away by injustice.  We’re to care for the widows and orphans, and I think what’s really meant by that is Handthose who are suffering and in need. We are to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”

How does any of that lead anyone to think that we are to stand idly by (or even worse, cheering) while human beings, those made in the image of the God we love and serve, are mistreated, humiliated, enslaved, or made to suffer needlessly?  And do that in the name of “obeying the Word of God.”

My dear brothers and sisters (those of you who say you love Jesus),  do not think for a moment that you are living as God intends if you keep silent while whole people-groups are labelled as evil intruders.  When “authorities” who were supposedly put into power by God began oppressing, and then murdering, entire categories of people, the “church” kept silent. But the outraged, and I don’t know how many did or did not believe in or follow God, went to work tirelessly doing everything they could to defeat and foil the plans and actions of the so-called ruling government.

Throughout the ages, there have been people who have stood up against oppressive rulers, many giving their lives in the process, because they recognised evil when they encountered it.

Wake up!

Even now the deck is being stacked and the steps are being taken to silence any opposition.

Pray for our leaders; yes, of course. But at the same time, LOVE your neighbour (the stranger you encounter who is in need).  Show your love for God by standing up and speaking out against evil.  No matter who the perpetrator is.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about anger and forgiveness.

Seeing people hurt each other does that to me.  First, it makes me really angry, to the point that I want the “hurt-er” to suffer in the same way and degree as the “hurt-ee.” I’ve always been quick to become “righteously indignant” at the mistreatment of others.  But then, after reflection (sometimes a lot of reflection), I realise that I am doing the same thing, or at least violating the same principle.

I’m a follower of Jesus.  I love Him, and really want to live my life in a way that pleases Him. In order to do that, I have to keep His commandments, as it says in John 14:15 (“If you love Me, keep my commandments.”)

I say that because my initial intention was to have a good rant.  This is my blog, and blogs are made for rants at times, right?  And there are so many scriptures that talk about love and forgivenessRant. So, so many!  I know because I’ve looked up a bunch of them today while I’ve been thinking along these lines.

But castigating someone with scripture is unloving and vengeful.

I was inspired to go ahead and write today after reading an email from someone I follow who has made it his mission to inspire would-be-bloggers and hopefuls.  He said to overcome your fear and say what’s inside of you.  Well, what’s inside of me today has the makings of a sermon on overlooking wrongs that have been done to you and forgiving, instead of lashing out and trying to get even.

Kind of ironic, since lashing out with words, desiring to shake up, wake up, and correct unloving behaviour, is itself hurtful.

I would love to just go for it, and unleash all the scriptural correctness that’s rolling around in my brain.  Like….

Forgive exhaustively (70 x 7) (Matthew 18:22)

In your anger, do not sin. (Ephesians 4:26)

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Pretty much all of Matthew, chapter 5 – Blessed are those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy…But I say if you are even angry at someone you are subject to judgment…. ‘Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!’

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  (Colossians 3:13)

I could go on, but you’ve more than gotten the idea.  And I have now given a mini-sermon to myself.

Overlook.

Forgive.

Love.

And pray.  Always pray.

The act of writing has been cathartic.  I feel better!  I hope at least one person out there does too.  And if not, write it out, and pray it out; then I’m sure you will.

 

 

No Judgment!

I was recently asked to write a few words based on a specific Bible passage as part of a shared blog during Lent.  For those unfamiliar with Lent, it is the 40 day period leading up to Good Friday and Easter.  It has traditionally been considered part of the Catholic tradition, and has, unfortunately, been ignored by most non-Catholic followers of Jesus.  But for some, it has become a meaningful time of meditating on Jesus’ journey to the cross, and it is in that light that I now approach this season.

With that explanation, here is my contribution.  If you would like to continue to read through the daily blogs written by the folks who are a part of the Mosaic Edinburgh community, here is the link: http://journey-mosaic.blogspot.co.uk/

John 3:16-21

New Living Translation (NLT)

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[a]

Footnotes:

  1. 3:21 Or can see God at work in what he is doing.

How amazingly blessed are we?!! “There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who BELIEVES in Him.”

What a beautifully simple plan God has put into place for us:  Believe and escape judgment.  Believe and have eternal life.

Believe in the One who left heaven for us.  Believe in His humanity.  Believe in His divinity. Believe in His sacrifice in our place.  Believe that He died.  Believe that He conquered death, because He rose from the dead.  Believe that He is seated at the right-hand of the Father in heaven.  Believe that He intercedes for us.  Believe that we get to be with Him forever.  And believe that love for us was the motivation for it all:  this wonderfully simple plan of God.

Sometimes it seems that so little is required of us in this plan of God’s.  Until we realise that it requires everything from us.

If we believe, we give up everything to Him and for Him, because He gave up everything for us.

We give up our unbelief, because if we hold on to that, as these verses tell us, we’ll be judged, and who would want that when we can escape judgment if we will only believe?

We give up living in darkness and holding onto our evil deeds, because His light has come, so we no longer live in darkness.  Our evil deeds are gone, because of His sacrifice in our place, so we don’t have any fear that they’ll be exposed.  We have given up hopelessness, fear, dread, and all those other slimy creatures that lurk in the darkness, because we now live in His light.

There are things that are more difficult for us to give up, even though we know that Jesus sacrificed those things as well.  Dignity might be one of them.  Rights and entitlement might be others.  We know that Jesus gave up His rights.  He could have held on to the entitlement due to the King of Heaven’s Armies (one of His names in the book of Psalms), but He didn’t.  Even so, we sometimes struggle to surrender those things.

There’s no judgment for us now, which means that we also give up judgment.  How can we judge others, when we know we will not be judged.  That’s another of the things Jesus gave up that we struggle to let go of.

What about control?  He surrendered His control, evidenced in the prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, and yet we definitely struggle to give up our control.  Until of course we come to the realisation that it’s only an illusion any way, and we’re not really in control at all.

How about self-determination?  But Jesus gave His life away.  He could have had life goals that didn’t include being led like a lamb to the slaughter.  He could have had ambitions for Himself.  He chose, instead, to make winning us His ambition.

What about ‘stuff’?  This world offers a lot of good ‘stuff.’  When it was offered to Him, He turned it down, even all the kingdoms of the world.  Few of us will ever have to give up anything like the wealth and power that Jesus was offered, but rejected.

Even when we struggle to give up some of these things, Jesus doesn’t judge us.  These verses of scripture assure us that He didn’t come to judge us.  “God sent His son into the world not to judge the world…” and again, “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

In the face of such overwhelming, sacrificial, merciful love, is there really anything we would rather hold on to?