Love is a way of Thinking

A Series on Love, Part 2

I want to begin by discussing the life of the Mind. I know I said all of our external expressions must be expressions of Love. But we know from reading the Gospels that Jesus spoke and expressed love completely differently than any other person who ever lived. What this reveals is that He thought about love differently than any person who had ever lived.

It’s no surprise, Isaiah 55:8 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” Jesus expressed love differently because his thoughts were perfectly aligned with God, the Father. So one of our major responsibilities is to conform our thoughts to the thoughts of God. Jesus commanded us to love each other like He loved us and to do that we have to understand the nature of the love He showed us. 

The Apostles were very concerned with the life of the Mind because they knew it was necessary for Holiness.

Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

2nd Corinthians 10:5 “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”

Romans 12:2 ”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

To Act like God you have to think like God and to think like God you have to continually renew your mind by studying His word. Now I am not saying that Godliness, Holiness and Salvation are dependent on your thinking the right thoughts. It’s not a matter of knowledge or right doctrine.  A mere mental assent. In everything I am going to say about the life of the mind, I am presupposing that this mind has already been united to Christ through Justification; through the work of Christ on the Cross.

But the mind is kept alive by feeding it a regular diet of edifying material. Continue reading “Love is a way of Thinking”

The Context of True Love

English: folio 150 recto of the codex, with th...
English: folio 150 recto of the codex, with the beginning of the 1. Epistle to the Corrinthians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This text, like all Scripture, should be read in context. If you tug on 1 Corinthians 13, you quickly find that it is tethered to the rest of the epistle and resists being torn from it. This isn’t rocket-surgery, but 1 Corinthians 13 comes between 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14. There is a reason Paul includes this here. Paul has begun a discussion about spiritual gifts in chapter 12. He has written that the body of Christ is composed of many members with different functions, and that every member’s role (no matter how big or small it seems) is indispensable. The hand can’t get rid of the foot and expect to be productive, and the eye can’t make its exit from the body and hope to have any use except for disturbing Halloween pranks. The Spirit has distributed these tasks throughout the church and has equipped every believer with abilities to serve the people of Christ. And then, in chapter 14, Paul wants to put forward a principle that will determine how the church operates in spiritual gifts, particularly with prophecy and tongues. That principle is that everything must be done in the gathered church in order to build up others. This is the idea he repeatedly presents in chapter 14.

It is his constant concern: “… the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (v. 3) Continue reading “The Context of True Love”

Look Up and Look Out

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...
Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus’ love is selfless and sacrificial

Now you may be wondering why I use both selfless and sacrificial. We often use these words interchangeably as if they mean the same thing, or nearly the same thing. But selfless acts are not necessarily sacrificial and sacrificial acts are not necessarily selfless. To be selfless is to have no concern for self. Now, focusing on others is great, but it can easily be done out of manipulation. For example, a lot of times I do things that are selfless so that the selfish thing I am about to do goes over a little easier. It’s a “look your shoes untied” strategy that can be very effective. People distracted by your kindness are less likely to notice the extreme selfishness you display.

Now, technically, doing something nice or beneficial for others is selfless. But if it doesn’t cost you anything than it’s not the kind of selflessness that Jesus displayed. Another problem with selflessness is a weird kind of “martyrdom” that people needlessly submit themselves to. This is the person who can’t say no and lets you walk all over them. Others can’t so no until they they blow up or they never stop talking about how selfless they are. Its manipulation. Again, not the kind of selflessness Jesus demonstrated. Continue reading “Look Up and Look Out”

Be a sign that points to Jesus

Conclusion to the Sign of Jonah series

All the signs of Jonah point to Jesus. The signs that reveal Jesus’ presence in our lives are sacrifice, death and resurrection, God’s word and Repentance that leads to life.  Are your lives defined by these signs?

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh as the representative of God’s people to do the work of God. We will see next week that Jonah’s flight from God was consistent with kind of prophet he was. Jonah and Israel did not understand that their mission was not separate from their life as the people of God. That was the lesson Jonah was learning to teach Israel. It’s the same lesson we need to learn.

Your mission is not separate from your life as the people of God. I can ask all kinds of questions about missions. How many of us are foster parents? Support a missionary?  Visit lonely old widows tucked away alone in retirement homes all over the Puget Sound. But our problem is more fundamental than that. Why would we want to add to our church? How are we doing loving the people we already have? How many different families have you had over in the last two weeks? The last two months? The last two years?

We don’t reach out to the world because we do so poorly reaching out to each other.  Reaching across the street starts with reaching across the pew. I know you do not have an affinity with everyone. And being nice is not the same as loving people. You may not feel animosity toward anyone in this church but how many people’s welfare in this congregation would  you say you are passionate about? We think that because we are polite to the bank teller and the barista and are courteous drivers that we are loving people. We think if we ask someone how work is going while standing around the cookie table or make some amusing comments about baseball in passing conversations that we are loving people.  But love is defined differently by Jesus. Continue reading “Be a sign that points to Jesus”

The Aim of our Charge

Matthew 22:37 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

This is where the Christian Faith begins. This is the paradigm of your relationship with God. It requires that you do not have closed off spiritual, emotional and private relationships but relationships that begin in your heart and end at the four corners of the world. It begins privately and intimately but extends through your hands to your neighbor, town, county, state, country and world.

This is God’s program to perfect creation. It’s the overpowering force. It’s you responding in the only appropriate way imaginable to His instigating love; with total abandon, complete surrender, utter adoration and all engrossing subordination.

Heart, soul and mind don’t consist of compartmentalized aspects of life, but here signify the total self; the whole man.

This command becomes the engine, the roadmap, the structure on which your life’s work is built. It becomes the modas operandi. The beginning, the end and the content of life. This is the sum total of who you are and what you do.

This command, applied to your life, becomes the antithesis, cultural mandate and great commission in action. This is the chief command from which all obedience is derived. It’s the fountain head of culture, ethics, science, theology, art, family, community and meaning that pleases God.

This requires proximity and consists of productivity and praise.

Love is our Livery

The Scutum Fidei, a diagram frequently used by...
The Scutum Fidei, a diagram frequently used by Christian apologists to explain the Trinity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ultimate model of love exists among the three Persons comprising the Godhead — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit -who are three in one and one in three and perfect in mutual love. “All love,” asserts Kelly Kapic, “is but a reflection or shadow of intratrinitarian love.”There has eternally existed a dynamic social relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit characterized by love (John 17:24). And we have been called to share in this holy community of love (John 17:26;14:21;15:9-10). John’s magisterial proclamation that “God is love” actually supports his main appeal to love one another: “Love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). So not to love one another in the family of God is an egregious sin.

Strauch, Alexander (2011-03-11). Love or Die: Christ’s Wake-up Call to the Church (Kindle Locations 189-196).  . Kindle Edition.

Love knows no one Greater

The Sign of Jonah is the Fish of Jonah

In the section mentioned earlier from Matthew, we saw that Jesus referred explicitly to the fish being a sign of His death, burial and resurrection.

Death and resurrection are part of our life in Christ. Dying to ourselves is the only way to live for God. Jonah was shown this truth through his ordeal in the fish. Jesus demonstrated it throughout his life, ministry and passion. We must die to ourselves so that we might live for God. Doing the will of the father requires it and it is a sign that points to Jesus Christ. It is a sign that signifies one is a disciple of the living God.

So, this is a fairly straight forward and easy sign. Jonah is swallowed by the Fish and remains in a death like state for three days. He rises on the third day with words of power to speak to the nations. Just like Jesus.

The Lord has Spied out the Land

Father

We are gathered in. The Lord himself has spied out the land, tasted of its plenty and declared the promises fulfilled. He has declared the year of the Lord. We huddle in the upper room of heaven gripped in fear. Fear that leads to wisdom that frees us from ourselves, fear that leads us here, to worship for it is the fear of awe.

We are gathered in and the scarlet cord hangs form our window. The house that belongs to the Lord shall stand, even as the wall of humanity falls in destruction. We shall be passed over as you march from the river to the sea and subdue it all. It is finished. Even now we feast at the banquet set amidst our enemies. Let our joy be an example, may your spirit be theirs; those at home now lost in their worldly pursuits, may they know this elation secured by Christ, that they too might stand with us and look upon you in Spirit and truth. We are gathered in. Hear us. Not because we are righteous, but because of your son, the Christ, the Emperor of the cosmos, who gave this right to us, to ask in his name…

Amen

5-1-2011

The Man behind the Curtain

English: the first of the Epistles to the Colo...
English: the first of the Epistles to the Colossians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So often we teach that abiding in Christ means spending time with Him in His Word and prayer. In so doing, we may tend to neglect a proper emphasis on Christ Himself. It is not the Word of God itself or even prayer that supplies the power and grace to live the Christian life. It is Christ who is our life (see Colossians 3: 4). The Word of God and prayer are the primary means by which the Holy Spirit mediates Christ’s life to us. But we must never so emphasize the Word and prayer, which are God’s instruments of grace, that we lose sight of Christ, who is the source of our life. We must actively “abide in Christ”; that is, we must look to Him by faith to sustain us, nurture us, and provide all that we need to live a life pleasing to God and worthy of Him. When we come to Christ for salvation, we renounce any confidence in ourselves, placing our trust entirely in Him. In the same way, as we live the Christian life, we should continue to renounce any confidence in ourselves, placing our trust entirely in Him. But this does not mean we should become passive in a “let go and let God” approach to the Christian life. Rather, we are called to a dependence on Christ, as well as a dependence on the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to mediate the life of Christ to us, enabling us to live the kind of lives that are pleasing to God.

Bridges, Jerry (2012-09-14). True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia (Kindle Locations 311-320). Navpress. Kindle Edition.

God Vowed to Walk There With Them

Zampieri - Adam et Ève (détail)
Zampieri – Adam et Ève (détail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adam stood outside the Garden, with God, in the valley of death; ashamed and defeated. God cursed the ground on Adam’s behalf, increased the pain of labor for Eve and spilled the blood of a substitute to make a covering for His wayward and fallen children. In the midst of the first evil, God promised a son to restore the lost and broken relationship that God had  enjoyed with man.

In the pain of that moment, betrayed, accused and hated by His own children whom He had given the world, God knew something profound. That all the sons of Adam and Eve would be unable to bear the burden, were too weak and broken to fight back against the dragon. God knew that the Son that was promised would be ravaged and that the battle would cost that Son his life. And God knew, God promised in that moment, at the very beginning, with the tears of betrayal fresh on His cheeks, that the Son whose blood would be spilled for mankind, would be His own Son; His only Son. Continue reading “God Vowed to Walk There With Them”