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Overwhelming Love

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I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit.” (Eph 4:1-4 WEB (R))

…that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love. (Eph 4:14-16 WEB (R))

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him. (1Co 8:1-3 WEB (R))

To truly follow Christ, one must remain humble and teachable – not simply willing to change one’s understanding and perception, but EAGER to do so.  Sentimentality has no place in a spiritual walk; change is often just another word for growth.  So, I am certainly not against seeking to gain correct “knowledge” or “information” about God’s ways or character, but I want to highlight that while knowledge has its place, it MUST be secondary and subject to love, or it becomes poisonous instead of nourishing.  I think you could say this: love without knowledge is immature, but knowledge without love is hurtful

In Ephesians 4:16, Paul says that a mature and healthy body will be “building itself up in love.”  Love is vital to growth within the body of Christ, and since we are one body, we are actually OBLIGATED to love one-another, as Paul also writes in Romans 13:8.  However, because many leaders and ministers have preferred knowledge over love, and because so many believers have allowed themselves to be divided over who is right and wrong in their understanding, the body of Christ has been divided and its growth has been stunted. 

This can be a bit confusing, because scripture says knowledge “puffs up” (makes one proud), and that one day knowledge will pass away, but it also says in many places that knowledge is very good and valuable. I believe one simple reason for this is that there are two sorts of knowledge: knowledge of the mind (information/reason), and knowledge of the spirit (revelation/light). These are quite different, and it is the knowledge of the mind, aka information or reason, which tends to make men proud and which will one day pass away. This may be a startling statement, but it’s true:  we should never cut ties with a brother just because they don’t have the knowledge or understanding we do.  If we do, we’re preferring knowledge over love and stunting growth within our own body!

It’s easy to say all this, but I’ll be the first to admit practicing this requires discernment and a lot of patience.   In Ephesians 4:2, Paul says we should be “bearing with one another in love.” The word “bearing” is also translated as “suffer” and “endure.”  It’s often hard and taxing to accept others where they are, when you can see their faults but they stubbornly won’t or can’t.  But love compels us to do so, and we want others to do the same for us.  Bearing with one-another may be the only hope we have of maturing.

Here’s my disclaimer: this doesn’t mean we shirk from speaking the truth, even at times if we know it will offend others, nor does it mean we have to accept anything and everything someone does or says.  Truth AND love are essential.  Jesus offended religious people all the time, but it wasn’t his intention or goal.  He simply saw how the ways of the religious were damaging and leading astray those who were truly seeking God’s way, and spoke undiluted truth in love for his Father and his Father’s people. 

Paul also knew the importance of knowledge, praying  that the love of his fellow believers would grow and abound in greater knowledge and discernment, so that they wouldn’t  tolerate and devote themselves to various things which seem good but are devoid of actual, spiritual life.1  What all this does mean is that we must value love and unity more highly than knowledge.  It means we let love “overwhelm” our insistence that others see or conform to our way.  It means we live at peace with everyone to the fullest extent we can while abiding in Christ.  If someone seems incredibly immature and stuck in their ways – don’t divide from them or attack them, but bear with them in love (you may have been that way yourself once).  If someone contradicts or seems to disrespect your ways – don’t divide from them or attack them, but bear with them in love.  Again, this requires discernment and a connection with God, as there are millions of challenging scenarios when you’re talking about relationships between people.  Ultimately, be led of the spirit.

If we can follow the law of love and accept one-another in peace, we keep the body of Christ connected and thus love can flow and growth WILL take place.  Like Paul said, we should be EAGER to keep the unity of the spirit.  Don’t all want truth, when all is said and done?  Honestly, some don’t, but we can rest assured that God will ultimately have His way.  In the meantime, choose the way of love – to bear with your brothers and sisters.

God bless you…

  1. Philippians 1:9-11

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Love’s Boundary

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“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.”1

Lately I can’t get away from the statement: “love is of God.”  Other translations say love is “from” God. This literally means that all genuine love has it’s origin with God’s Spirit!  If “God is love” and all love is from God, it makes sense that: “everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”  The implications are amazing, one of which is God is present where love is present, and God is absent where love is absent.

As with all spiritual things, the best that words can do is describe love, but they cannot convey what it is.  Love is a characteristic of God, a spiritual dynamic which, to really be understood in any real way, must be revealed, encountered, and experienced within.  I think genuine love is far more radical and shocking than most of us realize.  Let’s look at some scriptures:

  • …When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end  “…You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:1, 13-16 ESV)   Love is servanthood, honoring others above yourself. 
  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13:34-35 ESV)  Loving others as Jesus loved us is obedience to him; therefore love is the hallmark of his disciples.  Jesus’ love included self-humiliation, servanthood, and willingly suffering to speak the Father’s heart.
  • “Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1-2 ESV)  The law of Christ is love, which includes bearing the burdens of others.  These burdens could be guilt, weakness, flaws of all sorts.  HOW we do this is an interesting question; I think it has to do with putting up with others patiently and speaking Truth to them, pointing their awareness to God’s presence, the life of Christ within them.
  • “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 KJV)  A “walk” is a lifestyle, a constant pursuit.  To “walk in love” is a crucial part of following God as His son.  The best example of love is Jesus Christ laying down his life as a sacrifice to God for others in life, death, and resurrection. 
  • Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV)  The greatest love is great self-abandonment for the sake of another.  This can take many forms.
  • “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-2 WEB)  Love puts up with others, valuing peace and unity over being correct or having your own way.
  • “And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)  Similar to this, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that love “keeps no record of wrongs.”  Love which is of God doesn’t relate to others based on the faults and flawed behavior of their corrupt flesh, but based on the purity and newness of the seed from God within.  That’s what God sees and deals with, so that’s what love sees and speaks to.

The sign of a disciple of Christ is love.  The sign of a disciple of the law is supervision, judgment, and condemnation.  Law is unchangeable, it is and always will be “do this, don’t do that, or be punished.”  It cannot touch the heart, connect with truth, or give LIFE.  Law will always remain outside of the new covenant and new creation which came in Jesus Christ.  I do believe there will be suffering and “wrath” toward those who refuse to follow Christ’s example of love and honor the Father, but I don’t believe in the “eternal conscious torment” idea of hell like many Christians do.

Love is so different than law.  Love’s boundary is the finished work of Christ; it always sees and relates to others based not on their flesh, but the seed of God within them, because in Christ’s one offering for all men, all men died, old things passed away and all things became new.2  (Edit: A few days after publishing this post, I noticed Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:14, which very much corroborate my statement that love is bound by the all-encompassing finished work of Christ.  Here’s what he wrote: “For the love of Christ constrains (literally: “compresses, binds”) us; because we judge thus, that one died for all, therefore all died.”We don’t see the manifestation of that yet, but it’s true!  Speaking law is not speaking Christ, and will only make men be aware of separation from God, which prevents them from coming to him.  Correction is simply pointing people back to God’s spirit/presence/seed within them; even treating them as a new creation, in love, regardless of how they treat you.  Be so so careful then in what you share and speak toward others.  Our words hold great power in the consciousness of others (I may write about that next).

God bless you, until next time.

  1. 1John 4:7 WEB
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:14, 17
 
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Posted by on April 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Riches and Poverty in a *Spiritual* Kingdom (True Meaning of Lazarus and Rich Man Parable pt. 1)


lazarus dives 3

While many reading this are probably familiar with Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, found in Luke 16:14-31, allow me to summarize it for the purposes of this post:  

Jesus says there were two men: a certain rich man, and a poor man named Lazarus.  The rich man’s life was one of continual ease and enjoyment.  Poor Lazarus’ life was the opposite – he frequently laid outside the rich man’s gate, covered in sores, which dogs would come and lick as he laid there helpless.  Lazarus greatly desired to eat and receive satisfaction from even the crumbs that would fall from the rich man’s table, but he was never welcomed or given anything.  In time, both of these men died. Poor Lazarus was taken to “Abraham’s bosom” and was comforted, while the rich man found himself in Hades, where he was tormented.  The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus cool his tongue with water, but Abraham says this cannot be done. He then asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to warn them, but Abraham says they had Moses and the prophets to speak to and warn them, and if they wouldn’t listen to these, then they also wouldn’t listen even to someone who rose from the dead.

Several times, I’ve heard this parable used as a warning against the terrors of hell and as an illustration of the setup of hell.  Usually, the idea presented is that torment in hell likely awaits those who ignore or oppress the poor.  However, this parable isn’t about hell or giving money at all.  Let me say again, THIS PARABLE IS NOT ABOUT HELL OR GREED AT ALL.  It’s a –>parable;<– you have to see past the obvious, surface meaning (the natural interpretation) to see the deeper meaning (the spiritual).  It’s mandatory to see that Jesus tells this parable in the context of the lengthy discussion he was having with the Pharisees about their hypocrisy and their illegitimate confidence before God in the law and the old-covenant prophets. It was this confidence in the righteousness of the law that Jesus was actually discussing, and this discussion actually begins in Luke chapter 14 or 15.  If you read carefully, you’ll notice Jesus begins the parable by using the word “now,” meaning it is just a continuation of his current train of thought.  That train of thought is clearly stated in the verses immediately leading to this parable, which are these:

(Luke 16:14-19 NAS77)  “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery. Now there was a certain rich man…

Believe it or not, the intent and meaning of the Lazarus and Rich Man parable is to illustrate the revolutionary division which Jesus instituted and proclaimed (remember his “winnowing fork” from my last post?)  This division is between two ways of relating to God: the way of self-righteousness and confidence before God based on one’s observance of laws and regulations, and the way of total self-denial based on receiving the life of the spirit and pursuing the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.  The former way is that of the religious.  It appeals to the flesh and fosters pride, rigid tradition, and hypocrisy. The latter is the way of God’s sons, which appeals to the spirit and fosters humility, evolution, and freedom.

In my next post, to come soon, I’m going to look at specific details of Jesus’ statements both before and in this parable, which should shed more light on what he meant in the telling of this parable and how it still relates to us today. Maybe you can re-read it in a new light and see some things there that will help guide your walk with the Father. I hope you’ll check back in a few days. God bless you.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Honesty

Something I’m realizing is it’s important to simply be honest.  Religion and fear tempt men to hide their faults and sins, fearing judgment or condemnation, but this is itself a fault.  I believe the dynamic that keeps men full of pretense – PRETENDING to be holy and Christlike, is pride.  Pride won’t allow a negative perception of self.  Jesus called the Pharisees and religious folk of his day “hypocrites.”  This word carried the idea of an actor in a play, who wears different masks and performs different roles.  Hypocrisy is pretending to be something one is not.

(Matthew 23):  27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Don’t be a hypocrite.  Refuse to let fear keep you from being “real.”  This isn’t to say that you should give in to any desire you may have, or say anything that comes to mind.  No, there are competing natures within a believer – the flesh and the spirit.  The spirit must conquer the flesh, and the flesh must remain crucified and in a position of death.  To speak or act from anger, compulsion, fear, etc. is to speak or act from the flesh – the corrupt, selfish nature.  I’m simply saying be real in regards to your weakness, failures, and struggles.  Don’t put on a “mask” and pretend to be righteous or wise or strong or whatever – this is hypocrisy when in reality you have places within that need to be cleaned out, or areas of confusion in your mind.  Be real, be honest, humble yourself before God and men, and if you are God’s child and desire righteousness, you will see and be a recipient of God’s discipline and His grace to change you and conform you into His image.  As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you should have no greater honor or desire.

(James 4): Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

(Titus 2): 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age…

God bless you.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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