Devotional Thought of the Day!
31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all. 1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 1 Corinthians 12:31–13:3 (NLT)
999 And what is the secret of perseverance? Love. Fall in Love, and you will not leave him.
We must see things in their proper and real perspective if we are to live well. But the key to this seeing, in turn, is loving things rightly. If we over-love things, we tend to over-value them in our minds in order to rationalize our over-valuing of them in our lives. If we under-love God and people, we tend to undervalue them in our mind to rationalize our undervaluing of them in our lives. If I love money more than God, I tend to think of money as an absolute need and God as a mere extra. Thus loving and seeing depend on each other. If I do not love properly, this clouds my vision. And if my vision is clouded, I will not love aright.
This sounds complicated, but it is simple when we live it. Say I want to take revenge on someone. God forbids this. Therefore I see God as a bother. But if I first loved God, I would then see that revenge was the bother. When I am in the grip of a lust, God appears as a puritanical interferer. But when I am in the grip of God’s love, lust appears as it truly is: a pale perversion of true love and joy.
Since the 1980’s I have been reading books and articles written by Peter Kreeft, from Socrates meets Jesus and the Best Things in Life, to the classic “Christianity for Modern Pagans” (which is simply a modernized version of Pensees by Pascal) The man is brilliant, as much of a scholar as any I’ve met or worked with over the years. Nothing he has written has hit me as deeply as this.
We see God as a bother, we see His rules to heavy-handed, too restrictive, As Kreeft notes we see him as the puritanical interfered, whose disciples are for the most part hypocrites. If we are honest, we don’t understand the logic in them, simply because we don’t understand that we are truly, deeply, loved by God
And it all boils down to what the Apostle Paul wrote nearly 2000 years ago. It boils down to love. It boils down to what we adore, what we cling to, what we cherish and value, what we try to perfect in life. What we love, we are committed to, what we love, we guard and protect. We persevere to keep it in our own lives.
In Colossians, the apostle Paul talks of circumcision our hearts, cutting away these idols, letting them fade into the distance. In doing so, we can see His love clearly. demonstrated there on the cross. A love for us that no person, nothing could ever have. The more we love God, the more these other things we cling to are revealed to be what they are. The more we don’t need them around. When we realize we can love God, this stuff we have wrongly loved is revealed to be the crap that it is. And its grip on us grows dim, as the hymn noted, in the light of His glory and grace (love).
That is why we preach Christ crucified, the hope of glory, the hope of finding what we can truly love. For He loves us.
I pray we all come to know Him more, that this time leaves us the room to contemplate His love. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 192.
Transformed Minds: The Effect of the Resurrection
We see things differently!
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ help us to see all things from His perspective!
A Matter of Perspective
There are days my relationship to the world seems a lot like this picture.
I don’t quite understand what they see, and I am absolution sure they don’t see what I see.
And most of the time, that doesn’t bother me.
If we are talking about the gospel it does. It bothers me tremendously.
The same concern exists when we talk about the church, have to offer people, it does. Not just because my life is literally wrapped around the church, but because of what the church offers to us, as it reveals to us the very heart of God, His desire, His will… His love, for you and I.
His love for us..
A love that changes things, no, not really, it changes us.
This love transforms us so completely, it is as if everything was flipped over.
And while there are days I would willingly knock some people over, what we need is to build a desire that they would see what we see and treasure. We need to understand how critical it is for them to see the Jesus who loves them, who died for them, who lives with them.
As we look at the Pharisees we will understand what they see, and why they can’t see it.
What they saw… something to reject
As hard as it seems, let’s try to walk in the priests and Sadducees sandals for a moment. It’s now almost 2 months since the crucifixion of Jesus the Nazarene. They thought they had gotten risen of the pesky troublemaker, and most of his followers had scattered like cockroaches when the light turns on, and know His followers are back
And the ministry, as interesting as it is, isn’t happening the way it should. It wasn’t in conjunction with the appointed ministers of God in that place, And the ministry wasn’t happening to the best of people, it was to the rabble, like that lame guy who begged all his life.
They had lots of questions, and as we heard last week, they were ignorant. They were looking for logic and reason. They were looking for answers that could be put in a nice neat box.
That’s why they asked, “by what power, or on whose authority, have YOU done THIS?”
As if the answer would allow them to reject the miracle that was happening. As if the answer would allow them to discount what the reality they are facing.
But humanity does that all the time. We choose to be blinded to God, we choose to look at things upside down. We choose to call what is right wrong, and what is wrong right.
Even those of us who claim to follow Jesus do this, as we assume that our plans are God’s, that our beliefs about the world are equivalent to God’s plans. ( I could mention that I had pastor friends in the last week, one tell me God is happy with the Republicans, and another the Democrats, and that’s why they feel free to bash the opposition!)
Matter of fact, I think we confuse those who don’t know God when we seek to speak for God on things not found in scripture, or when we make the sins that upset us the most the unforgivable sin, or when we make the sins we personally struggle with not that big of a deal! When we say, thus spake the Lord, and we don’t have the authority or responsibility to do so.
What we are doing in that case is not standing opposite the world looking at what was written, but opposite God.
And we find ourselves there too often.
What we see – the basis of our hope
Last week, I said the ignorance the people had was not that they were stupid, nor was it that they didn’t have the data. They did, they just didn’t understand it.
This week the change is similar, they didn’t have the right perspective, even the apostles didn’t, and they heard Jesus prophecy about his death for three years.
The apostles didn’t understand the incredible message of salvation, until they put it together after the cross, until they saw the wounds in his hands and in His side, until He breathed on them, and they received the Holy Spirit, just as we received it in our baptism.
it was then that they realized what it meant for Jesus to be the cornerstone. That sets the perspective in stone, and we can’t say what Jesus says is a 6 is a 9, or what is wrong is right.
There is more to being the cornerstone than setting what is right and wrong though. The idea of the cornerstone is that every stone is connected to the cornerstone, everyone is linked, and the cornerstone or keystone keeps them connected.
Because Jesus is the cornerstone because He is our rock, we are connected to Him, and that changes everything. Paul talked about it this way,
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT)
Because of Jesus, it is not only Jesus we see differently but ourselves… and each other.
And we need to! We need to see Jesus as our Savior, our Lord! We need to understand that we are connected to Him, that we are united to Him, and our lives are lived out in that connection.
You, me, him, her, each person here. Each person is a new creation, each is as new in their redeemed lives as the lame man who could not only walk- he could dance now! Everything in our lives is new, from our lives free of sin, to our lives lived in the presence and peace of God.
This is our hope, and peace, to know His peace… and love. Let’s pray
10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life. Ephesians 2:10 (NJB)
In describing the spirit of the association to which I have devoted my life, Opus Dei, I have said that it hinges upon ordinary work, professional work carried out in the midst of the world. God’s calling gives us a mission: it invites us to share in the unique task of the Church, to bear witness to Christ before our fellow men and so draw all things toward God. Our calling discloses to us the meaning of our existence. It means being convinced, through faith, of the reason for our life on earth. Our life, the present, past, and future, acquires a new dimension, a depth we did not perceive before. All happenings and events now fall within their true perspective: we understand where God is leading us, and we feel ourselves borne along by this task entrusted to us. God draws us from the shadows of our ignorance, our groping through history, and, no matter what our occupation in the world, he calls us with a strong voice, as he once called Peter and Andrew: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”11 He who lives by faith may meet with difficulty and struggle, suffering and even bitterness, but never depression or anguish, because he knows that his life is worthwhile, he knows why he has been born. “I am the light of the world,” Christ exclaimed. “He who follows me does not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (1)
It is challenging to me to think of myself as a work of art, never mind God’s work of art.
And it is hard to see what I am doing as ‘good works”, in fact, I sometimes wonder if I am the opposite to King Midas, everything he touched turned to gold and everything I touch collapses, or breaks, or needs to have toilet paper applied.
I understand all too well St Josemaria’s description of groping through history, dwelling in the shadows of ignorance. Even as He draws me, there is a reluctance to enter the brilliance of His glory, the glory He would share with all of His people.
But I have to realize that He is more reliable than I am, that His will is being accomplished, and should I humbly focus on my journey with Him, the very places we go together, the people we talk to, are part of His making my life a work of art. Walking with Him means having the challenge and pain of loving people – including those who consider themselves unlovable I know their pain, as does about every person I have met in life.
That’s why, as we are transformed, faith also accepts that what we can perceive is not all there is to the story. That God is doing something very special in our lives, giving us a meaning we can’t see, because the artwork isn’t finished yet.
Knowing that means that I can accept that the potter knows what He is doing – that His vision for my life, my vocation can be vastly different from His. But he is the designer, the architect, the Creator, and I am but His creation.
A creation so beautiful in His eyes, that He would share HIs glory with me, and will all who are His people. That is what I have to remember as I skirt in and out of the shadows, as I wonder what He has in mind, and what He is doing. I even come to realize the reason I am allowed to hang out in these shadows, is to reflect His glory into the dark places, where other masterpieces lurk, afraid to come into the light, afraid to be seen, unaware that they are meant to be His people and He, their God.
In baptism – He cleansed me of all my sin and the unrighteousness of the world, and the struggle to see my life from His perspective is a challenge. Even so, the work is His, the promise to see it through is His. I’ve learned to trust Him, will learn it some more.
it is an interesting life… challenging.. and yet with Him? Incredible. For He heals the broken, and uses them to bring healing to others!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 1411-1423). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.