WEEK SIX, DAY THREE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK SIX THEME: LOVE
DAY THREE THEME: LOVE IN ACTION
SCRIPTURE: JOHN 15:12-13 (CEB)
“This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: Jesus’ ways are easy and His yoke is light. However the one thing he asks of us, commands us – to love one another – is often the very most difficult thing to do. This commandment was not just for those who heard it that day. It is for us today. It is contrary to our human nature – survival and success – to think of laying down our life for another. How did Jesus do it? How did he keep from getting caught up in all kinds of divisions and rules? How did Jesus “just love” without worrying what others might think or say?
Could it come from his confidence in God, His Father. As early as twelve years old, Jesus had a confidence and understanding of his faith. Shocking his parents by staying behind at the temple at that age to discuss with the teachers and elders shows a young confidence that must have only grown and grown. He practically scolds his earthly parents for their worry of his whereabouts. “Why were you searching for me?…Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house? But they did not understand what he was saying to them.” He felts certain that they would know he was in His Father’s house. I often wonder if Jesus knew from the very beginning – as a young child – that he was God’s Son – God’s only Son, or did he mature into his role over time. In any case, as a twelve year old and on into his early ministry Jesus exudes confidence.
Come to think of it, it is only in times of extreme confidence that I am able to speak boldly and convincingly. When I know what I experienced, what others might think often does not matter when I speak, because I know what I know. When times of confusion come about, I usually begin to sort them all out by going back to the beginning. I go back to my first understanding of the thing and begin again from there. Often in the process I find the truth, and that truth is very empowering for the rest of the deliberation of whatever nature it may be.
This has taken time. I can remember early in ministry at one of our churches, we had a Bible Study Group cover a book of prayer written by a United Methodist Bishop. For the conclusion of that time together, we invited that Bishop to come and speak to us. During the Bishop’s talk to us, I was so incredibly impressed and envious of how much faith this man of God had in the power of prayer. I have been taught to pray my whole life, but never felt such confidence in what it could really do, what prayer really meant. That night I began to long for my faith to grow deeper and to learn more about releasing all things into God’s hands.
Several years later, came the diagnosis of Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma. My first thought was to pray that God would use this all for good – totally not me, but God’s Holy Spirit at work in me to put this all in perspective, and then the next thing I was inspired to do was to put my news before as many others as possible asking for their prayers of healing and peace. This was my “nail it down” time. Terry and I were overwhelmed at the outpouring of love and the promise of unceasing prayers on my/our behalf. As I write this, it has been a little over five years of continuing to pray and release and this difficult diagnosis both by Terry and I and then by countless others. I learned the power of praying people. Through great doctors and great prayers, the signs of cancer left – came back and now has left again – I am cancer free! I have thought several times of my desire from the teachings of that Bishop years ago to “know because I know” about the power of prayer in my living. A struggle with cancer brought it home, and I give God thanks that He uses all things for good!
Jesus goes back – he knows because he knows and he does each and every thing without permission but with pure confidence. When his disciples pick grains to address their hunger on the Sabbath, Jesus is confident that they are far from breaking any law….Jesus has a deeper understanding for the root of the law. Jesus has come into our lives in our own special way to allow us to know the Father and to gain this same confidence.
As we take on Jesus and walk in His light, we also take on his confidence and are able to be who we are created to be in Spirit and Truth. Sure we will experience times when others will not “get us” and will scorn us, but God will sustain us as we place our hope and trust in Him to guide our steps, our actions and our words. As this all matures in our living, loving one another becomes easy and fulfilling and joyful. We experience the Kingdom of God!
Letting God’s Kingdom take root in our living helps His Kingdom come on earth more and more. Thanks be to God!