Saturday, December 15, 2012

I wasn’t asking pt. 3

A new commandment was also appended by Jesus that strongly coincided with the first commandment.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples
John 13:34-35 (NLT)
Does this include any conditions that must be met by someone for us to love them? None at all. Straightforward and concise. But what about those who treat us badly, or are just evil?
You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
Matt 5:43-45 (NLT)
Jesus made it very clear that we are to emulate the love that God has for us, His creation, however evil or imperfect we are. It’s not within our rights to withhold love from those that we find undeserving. If God were to only show love to those who deserve His love, or those who have earned it, then He wouldn’t love any of us. His love and perfection is so far beyond our understanding, or what we are capable of, it’s ridiculous to even fathom how much more we should love those who we are equal in substance to.
Of course this writing is only a basic set of standards that cover general areas of behavior that God wants us to be attentive toward. There is, however, a theme that runs through every one of the commandments. Love and respect towards God and humanity. Not being consumed with one’s self. Personal sacrifice for the sake of someone else’s well being. Exactly like Jesus is. Everything He did and said was about loving us and the Father.
One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Mark 12:28-31 (NLT)
Notice He said that both commandments were of equal importance. You can’t love God fully without loving people. And you definitely can’t love others without loving God. I believe that through Jesus Christ, the basis for our relationship with God has been made very simple. The key of course is actually having God within you by receiving His Holy Spirit. This is a very simple concept as well, although it may take some true self reflection in the light of God’s Word to be prepared to receive His Spirit. It takes an absolute and true surrender of our own will, or what many people refer to as “believing in yourself”, and completely trusting God to guide you and help you become what He originally designed and desired you to be. And all of the talents and personality quirks that you alone possess can come to life in the context of serving God Himself instead of your self. One must recognize that they have failed to live as God has desired them to live and ask Him to forgive them for this rebellion. Rebellion can be encompassed in as small a sin as choosing not to talk to someone who is having a bad patch in life, to possibly make them aware of the fact that they are loved, even when they can’t feel love. And once you recognize your own shortcomings and weaknesses in the various manifestations of your personal “sins”, you must then turn in the complete opposite direction, away from that former lifestyle. And ask God to make you a new creation. The one that you were meant to be before you were even formed in your mother’s womb. If you are sincere in your desire to be made new through His Spirit, you will be transformed through forgiveness by the blood of Christ. But sincerity isn’t cheap. It has to come after the recognition of just how far we are from God in our natural state. If you think you’re okay the way you are, you have nothing to be forgiven for. But if you have not committed any sin by your own estimation, then you are equating yourself with God, and you have actually entered the same territory that the devil entered when he attempted to elevate his own status to that of God’s. There can be no forgiveness without something to be forgiven for. And you must also believe that Jesus literally rose from the dead after literally dying, to demonstrate His power over life and death. Without His resurrection, there is no hope of our own resurrection after death. 
If we have told you that Christ has been brought back to life, how can some of you say that coming back from the dead is impossible? If the dead can't be brought back to life, then Christ hasn't come back to life. If Christ hasn't come back to life, our message has no meaning and your faith also has no meaning. In addition, we are obviously witnesses who lied about God because we testified that he brought Christ back to life. But if it's true that the dead don't come back to life, then God didn't bring Christ back to life. Certainly, if the dead don't come back to life, then Christ hasn't come back to life either. If Christ hasn't come back to life, your faith is worthless and sin still has you in its power. Then those who have died as believers in Christ no longer exist. If Christ is our hope in this life only, we deserve more pity than any other people. But now Christ has come back from the dead. He is the very first person of those who have died to come back to life. Since a man (Adam) brought death, a man (Jesus) also brought life back from death. As everyone dies because of Adam, so also everyone will be made alive because of Christ. This will happen to each person in his own turn. Christ is the first, then at his coming, those who belong to him {will be made alive}. Then the end will come. Christ will hand over the kingdom to God the Father as he destroys every ruler, authority, and power.
1 Cor 15:12-24 (GW)
You don’t need to understand the bible’s fine print or doctrine’s to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord. It is truly based upon faith, which of course you can’t demonstrate by any tangible means or actions. Faith is something that doesn’t rely upon physical evidence of the object that is relied upon to exist. A great example of how this principal can be examined is this. Picture someone in your life that you have experienced a great degree of love and devotion toward. Now prove to me just how much you love them. It can’t be done. You can tell me stories of what you have done for them, or talk to me all day about all of the admirable qualities within that person that make you love them, or describe that feeling inside you, but I still won’t have any true vision of the love that you say you have toward them. Faith is just as intangible as love. But they are also two of the most powerful and influential elements that we can experience in this life. Very ironic in my opinion. Faith is not an object and neither is love. They are actions. They are lifestyles. God is the only One who sees into our hearts. He can’t be fooled by our own self delusion although we can be. There is only one way to heaven. And that is through faith in Christ, and to then live with the hope that we will be with Him in eternity, and as a result learn how to love God and man in this life. Keep in mind that when we individually stand before God after we die, we will not be viewed in regards to how we were treated by others, but how we related to God and other people in spite of how we were treated. You can’t go to heaven as a result of doing good deeds (see my other blog “I’m a good person. Not!” for more details).
I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels. But if I don't have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. I may have the gift to speak what God has revealed, and I may understand all mysteries and have all knowledge. I may even have enough faith to move mountains. But if I don't have love, I am nothing. I may even give away all that I have and give up my body to be burned. But if I don't have love, none of these things will help me.  Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn't jealous. It doesn't sing its own praises. It isn't arrogant. It isn't rude. It doesn't think about itself. It isn't irritable. It doesn't keep track of wrongs. It isn't happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up. Love never comes to an end. There is the gift of speaking what God has revealed, but it will no longer be used. There is the gift of speaking in other languages, but it will stop by itself. There is the gift of knowledge, but it will no longer be used. Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete. But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will no longer be used. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me. So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.
1 Cor 13:1-13 (GW)