Devotional Thought of the Day:
12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. 14 And you are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another. John 15:12-17 (TEV)
100 I am not the apostle I should be. I am… too timid. Could it not be that you are fainthearted, because your love is small? It is time to change! (1)
Yesterday my blog post was the 666th post on this blog. It happened to be my Easter Sunday sermon, an odd “coincidence.”
I posed the question on Facebook, about whether I should post a Easter Sermon with post #666, or just post a blank post there. As I noted in the question, I had already decided my response to the oddity, but I thought posing the question would make for a good learning experience. One of my friends, a devout atheist (and I use “devout” purposefully) indicated I shouldn’t, as did one other. Some of the others encouraged, even dared me too, two noting that superstition should have no place in the consideration. A response, which seemed with such certainty, such fervor, that it almost seemed counter-superstitious. I must, some seem to assert, post it to prove that superstition had no hold over me. That almost seems superstitious!
I asked the question, partially from curiosity, and partially because it resonated with my sermon. The sermon was a discussion about faith in God, about trusting in Him, and worshiping Him, and no other gods. To revel, to find great joy and peace that we are encrypted, hidden with Christ in God; even as we walk our journeys in this world with Christ. To keep our eyes on Christ in the heavenly places, to know His work redeeming us is done, yet He continues to work within us, as the Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ,
The image of love. Bringing us to the point where we truly begin to love one another, including those whom we struggle with, not just being challenged to love them, but even to like them. To realize that this is possible, as we look to Christ, as we keep our minds on heavenly things, to trust God with everything we are, to turn to Him, not only when the burdens overwhelm us, but even in the simple things. As a simple bread making monk once put it, we need to practice the presence of God. To be so confident of His love, that all other things are dealt with, while residing in His love, while residing in His peace.
That is when we see that everything has a spiritual component, Making bread, talking to our neighbors, working, being a husband, a father. Whatever the place where God has guided us to, whatever role, becomes a place of love, for He is there with us.
It is this kind of growth, this need to depend on God, and the confidence that grows in His presence, that leads us from a form of “religious superstition” to a “religious faith”. That means we know we don’t have to be anxious about 666 or making sure our actions and thoughts conform to some man-made expectation, some man-made ritual, Because we know, intimately know, God’s heart, we know He secures our salvation, that He is our Hope, and our Way. That Easter provides for us a remembrance on the depth of His love, the insight to how we live, as we trust in Him above all things. As we realize He is God, and therefore we don’t have to be. We can count on Him to be our deliverer, our savior, the One who is our master, our protector.
Where we live in awe of His love, not in superstitious fear.
A relationship, where His faithfulness assures us of what we need, to be able to live freely, to love. Rather that being paranoid about every move we make….
Lord, we trust in You, help us to trust You!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 628-630). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the day>
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and because he is coming to rule as King, I solemnly urge you 2 to preach the message, to insist upon proclaiming it (whether the time is right or not), to convince, reproach, and encourage, as you teach with all patience. 3 The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear. 4 They will turn away from listening to the truth and give their attention to legends. 5 But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances; endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the Good News, and perform your whole duty as a servant of God. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (TEV)
\573 Please don’t abandon the task, don’t deviate from the way, even though you have to live with people who are full of prejudices: as if you thought the basis of arguments or the meaning of words were fixed by their behaviour or by their assertions. Do try to get them to understand you… but if you don’t manage it, carry on anyway. (1)
There is a point in minsitry that occurs when you realizing you are bashing your head against the wall.
An example – someone comes to you looking for spiritual guidance, and you offer it, and they go – thanks, and then going back to the same behavior that caused them to come to you in the first place.
Or someone who saks you to help them understand a Bible passage, you take the time to work it through with them, and then watch them return to the confusion, only to ask the same question in a similar manner a few weeks down the road.
It has been said that insanity can be defined by doing the same thing repeatedly, but hoping for a different outcome. In this case, many pastors, priests, teachers, counselors are not just simply insance, but completely insane.
There see to be two options to this insanity, first – keep doing the work in the same way, but give up caring about the results, or second, change things regularly, looking for the precise combination that will work in your community, in your parish, in your classroom. Sometimes we even bounce betwen the two, depending on who we last heard that appears to be successful, that appears to at least give an answer to our dilemna.
This glass half full/half open pendulum, and the second guessing and thinking that our “return on inventment” must result in a immediate reult that is satifactory dominates our churches. We are blown about by winds of, not of doctrine, but of some definitions and measurements of “faithfulness” and “success.”. We are hurt because we get into these fields beause we desire to change the world, and would like to at least change some lives. We know the answer is Jesus, (as does every pre-schooler !) we know where people will find the answers, we are trained to give them both clearly and in a way that should appeal to people.
And then we wonder if they will ever hear us…
And eventually we wonder if we are insane (in the sense above) or we act on the lack of success and desperately try new ways. Even to the point where we don’t give them time to see if they will work.
The nearly identical advice is seen above, ( I saw St. Josemaria’s first – my Bible devotional reading was somewhere else ). Our endurance in the midst of our preaching, teaching, counseling is not based on their changed lives. It’s not about “faithfully” doing it by dialing it in either. It is about realizing our role is to give the message, Because Jesus is coming back, and that is news that is incredible to anyone who trusts in Him, and if they don’t hear it, they won’t be able to trust in it.
Days preaching and teaching and counsling aren’t supposed to be easy, they often demand great sacrfiice, it often requires us to carry on, to keep looking at Christ and realizing the treasure that they need. Ministry and teaching and cousneling isn’t about our strength, its about the glory of God in which we work, sustaining us, encuraging, helping us endure, and driving us when needed. We are going to have to suffer in this role. Not just because of persecution, but because of those who do not hear the message, who we weep for, even as Christ weeped over Jerusalem. We need to realize that this struggle is okay.
That’s the example we have in Christ, and in our Father in Heaven. They have kept calling us, hounding us even though the results haven’t been all that spectacularly different. We still sin, we still forget about God, we still struggle, then repent, then worship. And still God loves and calls, and forgives and comforts and is here with us. He doesn’t change.. He never will… although the results can’t be seen b y us yet, He knows them, and dances with joy as He realizes those who trust in Him, who treasure His love.
In Him, we find the strength and the patience to avoid the insanity of reacting to what the world things is insane. So let us keep our eyes on HIm, He who begins faith and completes it is us, and in those who hear our message.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 2448-2452). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- WE WERE ROBBED! yeah…so? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Will God hear even me today, in this mood I am in? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Have you been neglecting yourself? (justifiedandsinner.com)