Love is, Jesus Is, We are
Not Demanding of our Way
1 Corinthians 13:5
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ so leave you in awe that you walk humbly with Him, rejoicing in His presence!
Love is not
The song we just sang, and have sung each week during Lent is a hard one for me to sing. Simply because it calls me to admit how I feel when I look at what God expects from us when I realize how hard it is to love, to truly love someone else….
When I realize how hard it is for me to love God with everything I am, all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. To love my neighbor as I love myself.
Especially when loving means that I don’t get what I want, that what is in my best interest, what I think is right has to be set aside.
We hear from Paul that love does not demand its way. It is not zealous; it doesn’t put all its energy seeking what it desires, what it wants, even what it needs. Or what it thinks is the right way to go….
And I as read this, the words to that song come to mind…
“my eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold. And I know how I ought to be, alive to you, and dead…. To me.
I would have thought I would be better at this by this time in my life, that I wouldn’t get so riled up when I didn’t get my way, that I wouldn’t be so hurt when what I know is right is denied by bureaucracy or systems that don’t consider the effect they have on people.
There are still times where I want to shake some sense into people……
You know what I mean? What were they thinking? How could they be so blind, so stupid,
and then I read this passage and realize how far I’ve strayed from what God desires….
For even if I am right, even if the way I demand is right, too often in demanding it I will win the battle, but I will lose the war.
Jesus is not
When we consider any aspect of love, it helps to see it in action, and the perfect example is usually Jesus. Okay, it is always Jesus, for only Jesus was perfect enough to love completely, and only Jesus, in that love provides the cure for when we aren’t loving.
In this case, we could look at the times when people begged for mercy, and Jesus went out of his way to provide it, to provide food for those that wouldn’t leave him alone, and followed him out into the wilderness.
Or we can look in the garden, and see Jesus asking the Father for an option to the cross.
38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Matthew 26:38-39 (NLT)
That certainly is not demanding your way!
And it was done so that you and I could know the depth of God’s love for us, for the cup of suffering he took, included the betrayals, the beatings, the cross,
He didn’t demand his way, but as Isaiah prophesied, like a lamb, he was silent.
We are not!
So what about us? How can we whose hearts are dry, whose faith is old, find the strength to love so sacrificially? How can we deny ourselves and take up our cross, and be silent?
On our own, we cannot.
As God guides Paul to write these words, they are there. This is what our confessions talk about as the describe the “New Obedience,” the way we begin to live as we trust and depend on God.
As we explore His love, as we come to realize our need and trust in God’s work, the Holy Spirit teaches us we are loved, and brings us to the point where we can love God and those around us. He shapes us the way an artist draws, guiding our lives as we look to Jesus, as we stand in awe of His love.
The way to love is not just to study the character of Jesus, but to know His love, to look to Him for that love and be amazed, to see the depth of His care for you and those around you, understanding what He promises, and rejoicing and treasuring the hope He gives.
Loving isn’t something that happens easily, but it is something that happens as we know we are loved.
A love that leaves us so at peace, so content, that we simply lay aside everything else to enjoy it, including the way we once so zealously demanded.
That peace is beyond our understanding, but for those who know God’s love, it is our reality, for Christ guards our hearts and minds in that peace. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. 12 I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. 13 I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me. Philippians 4:11-13 (TEV)
117 “What do I have to do to maintain my love for God and make it increase?” you asked me, fired with enthusiasm. Leave the “old man” behind, my son, and cheerfully give up things which are good in themselves but hinder your detachment from your ego… You have to repeat constantly and with deeds, “Here I am, Lord, ready to do whatever you want.” (1)
e need to stopIt is rare these days for pe]eople to ask how to grow stronger in their faith. I am not sure whether that is good or bad. Some might not care to grow, some might be afraid to grow. While others are growing, their faith being stretched like taffy, or a balloon expanding so fast that you wonder if it will burst.
There is a secret to this growth, a need for freedom from things that tether us down, box us in, that define the boundaries that we think define us, but in reality simply constrain us, and eventually choke out our faith.
Let me give you an example. As a young man wanting to be a pastor, I set a boundary on where I would serve. I asked God to send me anywhere, except for the desert. I narrowed the scope of my vision, and I would come to realize that the people in that desert needed the comfort and peace, the contentment that only comes from when you realize you live in the presence of God. (Yes, my first three churches I served were in the desert – and I needed to be there more than the people needed me)
I still occasionally do that, narrowing down where I will serve, or to whom I would “allow” God to send me. God, you couldn’t have me in that kind of position, or ministering in that kind of church. God you couldn’t use someone like me like that, etc.
And so do you.
We need to stop setting boundaries, we need to stop tying ourselves down, tethering ourselves to things that stop us from growing in our faith. St Josemaria considers that might even include good things that hinder our detachment. Things our ego depends upon to identify us as individuals, and therefore stop us from trusting that God knows what He is doing.
For growth, maturity in the faith is not confidence in ourselves, it is confidence in God, a deepening sense of contentment. Whether it means we have to go without, or we have to learn to deal with having more than we need. ( I know some of us find that harder to deal with! ) Spiritual growth is the abandonment of self, assured that God will develop what in us, and dependent on His promises.
Whatever He wants, where ever He wants, however long He wants; depending on the presence of Jesus, the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit
This is faith, a faith that grow and be stretched, a faith without boundaries, a faith that grows significantly, because God causes the increase.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 614-617). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
We will be Like Him!
1 John 3:1-3
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, as you realize you are the Father’s beloved, blessed children!
Awfully Big Shoes to Fill!
Jesus often taught in parables, so it makes sense that pastors should use them on occasion. Stories and words that paint a picture, and that we get the lesson of, intuitively.
I also like to use them because I can then address them as “Pastor Parker’s Panoramic Parables.
I bet that doesn’t sound quite as nice in Chinese!
Well here is today’s parable, the kingdom of God is like this,
The kingdom of God is like a child trying on their Father’s shoes!
We are just kids who can’t resist trying on Dad’s shoes.
And while the desire to be “grown-up” seems a good thing, we far too often want to try on God’s shoes and walk in them. And the usual result is that we fall down and hurt ourselves, and others.
We Can’t Walk in them Yet!
As children, we often want to be like our parents, to act like they do, and putting on their shoes is symbolic of that. It is a cute thing, but not so much when we try to put on God’s shoes.
It happens, we play God when we want that parental level of authority, we want to be in charge. Usually, there is another brother or sister involved, and if we have God our Father’s authority, we can judge them and put them in their place.
Instead of being responsible we want to condemn them, or get revenge, or just make sure everything is fair, according to what we perceive!
I mean, even as adults we have trouble loving our neighbors as we are supposed to love them. Can you imagine the temptation and the damage we would do if we were actually God?
I mean – it would be nice to get on the freeway and command everyone else to get off, so we wouldn’t be stuck in traffic!
Really, we are still kids, we still can be a little self-centered, we can still do things where we try and play God. We still mess up – we still get self-centered, we still want things our way, and will do things to try and make it happen. We even still throw tantrums when we don’t get our way – if you don’t believe me, wait until Tuesday, when some adults will be poor winners, and others poor losers. Either way – there will be tantrums, arguments, accusations of cheating and people saying “It’s not fair!”
And God will still be God, and He will look on us and show us mercy and love, and as that love leads us to repent, our sins will be washed away
That is why the Father sent the Son to the cross – to draw us into Jesus, to restore that relationship, to make us again His children, and to show us what we will be like when Christ appears, for we will be like Him.
But We will – This is assured!
Hear the words of the Apostle Paul that were written to the Colossian Church.
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)
This is the same thing the apostle John wrote that we heard today
But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
Holiness, purity, is simply living like Jesus, being like Jesus, and that is the transformation that happens, starting when the Holy Spirit brings us to life, gives us faith and cleanses us in baptism.
It comes as the Holy Spirit transforms us, as we gain that hope, that expectation that God will complete the work, the transformation He has began in us, as He promised.
We like all children will grow up – spiritually, this happens when we arrive at being completely like Christ Jesus. The good news, is that is His work, and the world of our loving Father. Want to know what you will be like – you will love the Father like Christ loves the Father, you will love each other the way Christ loves us.
So trust God, depend on God, and know that in Him we have a peace that goes beyond all understanding – that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN!