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Is “Love Thy Neighbor” simply Law, A Commandment, Or it is something more?

Featured imageDiscussion Thought of the Day

 ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27b (NLT)

9  “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. John 15:9 (NLT)

16  We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 1 John 4:16-17 (NLT)

21  When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:21 (NLT)

In a recent blog, I made mention that loving our neighbor is not just law, it is always gospel.  The contention was over evangelism, when I said doing such was an act of love, that love compels us to work for reconciliation.  But what compels us is not the law, but the love that is the effect of the gospel.  And to not love our neighbor, by sharing the greatest treasure we have, the love and mercy of God, is sin.

SO I was asked to clarify how “love thy neighbor” isn’t just law, but the purest of Gospel. Because of that, we have a blog about it.

The simple truth is we aren’t capable of loving each other as God commands, in the midst of our sin.  Therefore, a directive to love our neighbor is the law, and we can be judged by it. For most Lutherans (who the discussion seems to be between) this is normal use of the law, it guides our actions in community, and it reveals our need for God.  It also shows how we should live, (what it called the third use of the Law)

But it is more than just a command, it is a commission, a way of life God prepared those of us in Christ to walk in,  (see Eph. 2 10. )  It is who we are in Christ, formed by Him, transformed by the Holy Spirit.  It is the effect of our reconciliation, our redemption and sanctification, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

It isn’t about living within the confines of the law, the don’t touch, don’t do, type of law.  It is more than the third use of the law – because it isn’t about obeying, it is about being in Christ, about the Holy Spirit’s work.  If it is the only law, it is about us.  But loving God and loving our neighbor is more than that.

It is the freedom of living and abiding in God’s love. That is where the commission to love comes from.  It is the encouragement to live within the reality of your salvation, As we look to Christ, as the Spirit transforms us, it is indicative of who we become, of who we are in Christ.

If loving our neighbor is only law, it is not an indicative state, it is not that which the Father commissions and makes happen  as we are raised with Christ. We are no longer Christ’s masterpiece, the work that He is glorified and raised above all others for accomplishing.

But love is not just law.  It is life, in communion with God and all of His people, all of His creation.  It is indicative of the eternal life promised and given to us, as the Spirit quickens and transforms us.

AMEN.

Know someone who is backsliding? Have Hope!!!

Discussion/Devotional Quote of the Day:

“You are extraordinarily happy.  Sometimes you may find out that God has been abandoned by a son of his.  THen in the midst of the peace and joy deep within you, you have a pang of grief and a sorry which arises from affection, but you do not allow it really to disturb or upset you.
All right, but.. make sure you use all human and supernatural resources available to help him change his mind. And you must trust fully in Jesus Christ!  If you do, the waters will return to their course.”  Escriva

It may be a child, or a grandchild, It may be a high school friend  – so active in the church during his teens, yet now has no time for God now in his forties, fifties, sixties even.  There is even now  a classification for such people – the “de-churched”   Sometimes they say they believe in God, sometimes they are very angry at God and they say they can’t believe (how can someone be angry at Someone they don’t believe exists?  Another question, another day!) Sometimes they live as if it just doesn’t matter, they are so apathetic to anything spiritual…. and sometimes it is that they just have their priorities backward…

It should sadden us, more than just a passing thought. We should pray – deeply pray for such people, and yearn as the Father does for their return.  We must also carefully and completely show our care for theme – not nag and harass them – but be there for them,  Walk with them instead – journey at their side – for you know where you are going, even if they do not.  Don’t be afraid of the mire they are stuck in, you cannot if you are to be the one who brings them the words of life.. and re-kindle that flame of love and adoration of a God who got down into your muck, your mire, to rescue you.

I put in bold the key – the idea that first, always, our trust cannot be in our powers of persuasion, but in Jesus’ love.  Nor should we give up hope – for the hope you have for their restoration is found in Jesus, and in the prodigals Daddy, who looked and desired the homecoming of his wandering son.  Keep interceding – asking God for their return – knowing God desires it even more than you do.  Keep praying, and when the doors are open – be ready and share the love and peace of Christ which you so treasure.

“Lord Have Mercy” we cry, and we know He has…

therefore know He who pulled you out of the mire, walks with you this day…

Sanctuaries, Symbolism and Highlander

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, one of my favorite movies was Highlander.  ( Any movie with Sean Connery in a supporting role is awesome! )

One of the things  I loved about it, besides the incredible swordsmanship, was the use church grounds, and especially Sanctuaries.  If you are in a sanctuary, you are safe – end of story – no fighting ever allowed.  They were places of peace, places where even evil had to bow and follow the rules.  A place of respite, a place to calm one’s nerves and remember what life – even eternal life, was about.

I think our world is in desperate need of such sanctuaries – to know they exist, to know that they are in their midst – to know that they are welcome in them.  The roof won’t collapse if they come in, lightning won’t strike, but instead they will find rest, restoration, healing, peace as they, for a moment can re-focus that they are loved by God, that the price of freeing them from anxiety, freeing them from fear, from death and sin, and freeing them from the oppression of Satan has been long since taken away.

It’s not that God isn’t with us  24/7/366, but that we need to remember His presence, we need to heal, and yes, we need a safe place to witness God restore relationships long thought destroyed…

By the way – Christian sanctuaries aren’t a place restricted to  holy people – but don’t be surprised if when you come – you leave knowing that you are Holy, declared so by God himself.  To use a olde english term – found in our confession of our trust in God  (aka a creed)  and in the movie Highlander – we’ve been quickened.  Which simply means – that God, through His word, through His word and actions – we’ve been brought to life.  In a way we could never expect – and still struggle to comprehend.

So visit a sanctuary this weekend, spend some time reveling in God’s peace, and realize – that you never are missing that peace… even on Friday….

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