Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect

cause-and-effect-essays

From the scroll of Isaiah, a vision of the end times. Isaiah gives us a vision not of death and destruction, doom and gloom. He gives us a vision of peace, a vision of joy, a vision of hope.

New-heavens-and-new-earth

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.In the end, we will have a new heaven and a new earth. It says I create– God, Yahweh, is still creating. He is the creator God, creator of heaven and earth. He is still in the business of creation, not destruction. His creation was, and is, good, good and very good. But he is not finished. He is still building. He is still creating. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. Jerusalem, "the peace of God", is created to be a joy. In Revelation 21 we see the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem being formed on the earth, God joining with man, living with his creation. This new Jerusalem is what Jerusalem was always intended to be, "the peace of God", which the apostle Paul tells us surpasses all understanding, a peace which we as yet have no comprehension of. Yet this is the peace which, if we are living as disciples of Christ and living out his great commission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."”Matthew‬ ‭28:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This great commission to make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. We forget (or maybe never heard) that in both Exodus and Revelation, we are called to be a "kingdom of priests", and in Revelation it goes on to say we shall "reign on the earth". We are to not just share the Gospel, but to make disciples of all nations.  It's going to take far more than the work of Jonah, going in because we feel compelled, sharing the message of God, then getting angry that the message may or may not have been heard. We are not called to simply share the good news. We are called to make disciples of all nations. Russia. China. South Korea. North Korea. Mexico. India. The United Stated of America.

kingdom of priests
We are his kingdom of priests, called to make disciples of all the nations. Disciples to Jesus Christ. Disciples to the way of peace, love, and above all forgiveness. We are joined with God, Yahweh, through his one true Son in the project of building the new heavens and the new earth. It is upon our completion of this project, with the ever present help of Christ through the Holy Spirit, that we will see Christ coming again. What I'm saying here is that I think we have our cause and effect backward. We are to make disciples of all nationsto Jesus Christ. We tell ourselves that there will never be peace on earth until Christ returns. So we are then to just wait, make sure we make our "fair share" of converts, live our lives as best we can, and hope that if Christ returns tomorrow we will be among those taken and not among those "left behind" (which, by the way, is a MASSIVELY TRAGIC misreading and misunderstanding of Jesus' Olivet discourse).

make disciples
But I'm saying that it's the other way around. We are not waiting for Christ's return in the hope that there will finally be peace on earth. We are called, again, to make disciples of all nations. Not just read the verses, then turn and run. Jesus Christ himself was the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets. “"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The Jewish people, and indeed the whole world, already had the Hebrew Scriptures. It's all in there. If that were enough to get the job done, Jesus would have never come in his incarnation. The point is, we have the Bible. It's all in there. But it is not enough. It's not enough to know the Bible, it's not enough to be able to teach what the Bible says, it's not enough to share the Bible with the world. Just sharing the Bible does not make disciples to Jesus Christ. It will not make disciples of all nations. The only way to bring about the new Jerusalem, to participate in the project of creating the new heaven and new earth, the only way to bring about the return of Jesus Christ in glory, is to follow him. We must do as he told us. We must live as he showed us!! It is not enough to 'tell' people about Jesus. We must 'show' them the Christ in our own lives. We must be the Christ in their lives.  

fishers of men
“And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:38‬ ‭ESV‬‬. " Jes“Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:21-22‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."”‭‭John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. I share these verses just as a small sampling of what Jesus taught and showed. But the message we learn from his life is that God is love. We must be the embodied expression of that love in the lives of people here and now. Because this is how we make disciples of all the nations – by showing God's love to the world around us, one person, one believer at a time.

The-Wages-Of-Sin-Is-Death
Because it won't be Jesus second coming that will bring peace on earth. It will be peace on earth that brings the second coming of Christ. We are the instruments of that peace. We've followed the first Adam into sin and death long enough. Yes our world is a broken, sinful world. The apostle Paul told us – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The wages of sin is death, have we not figured this out yet? We know it, we say it, but then we just don't see it. Christ at the cross paid the wages of the sin in the world in his own death. Yet we keep sacrificing all the Abel's of the world at the altar of our own sinful world systems. Blood continues to cry from the ground…we just turn up the radio louder so we don't have to hear it. The endless cycle of recycled revenge is the cycle we choose. We don't get mad, we get even. We do unto others as they've done to us. Sometimes we do unto others before they do unto us. 50,000,000 dead in WWII. Hundreds of millions in various wars in China. The wages of sin is death. Tens of millions killed by the conquest of the Americas after its discovery by Columbus. The endless parade of dead bodies, blood on our hands. Just google wars and death tolls. We fight fight, fight because we are right and they are wrong. The wages of sin is death.

free gift of god
We've followed the first Adam into disobedience, sin, death and destruction long enough. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. So we now lead the world in following the second Adam. It's not enough to tell them, we must show them. If it were enough to tell about it, Jesus never had to come. But God had to show us what the fulfillment of his law and prophets looks like. He had to show us what He looks like. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. God looks like Jesus. It is in the resurrection of Christ that God the Father affirms – "That's it!! That's how you do it!!" So we follow Jesus, we show Jesus to the world around us. We make disciple one person at a time, until our project is completed to make disciples of all nations.

jesus-second-coming
We participate with him to make way for the second coming of the Lord. Of course, he never actually left us.
“"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain," says the Lord.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭65:17-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/isa.65.17-25.esv

“and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."”

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭19:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/exo.19.6.esv
“and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/rev.5.10.esv

John Lewis

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Real Authority!!

Real Authority!!

real authority

With Jesus having finished his sermon on the mount, Matthew adds these words to let us know the immediate effect the Jesus great talk had on those who heard him.
“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:28-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

jm_200_NT1.pd-P13.tiff
No one had ever heard teaching like this before. “You have heard it said…but I say…” was Jesus’ letting all who would hear him know that he indeed had authority, the authority to override and expand upon the teachings of Moses, the teaching that had guided the Hebrew people during, through and since the Exodus. All the scribes and teachers before him could do was cite, or recite, the teachings of others who had come before them. But Jesus came boldly, declaring the kingdom of God had arrived in their midst. He was in effect saying “Watch and see that what I say is true. See for yourself the the reign and rule of God has come among ordinary human beings.”

i_am_the_way_the_truth_and_the_life_5x7area_rug
Even during his earthly ministry, during his life as we know it, the decision for or against the rule of God hung together with the decision for or against himself. The presence of the logic, the logos, the incarnation and presence of Jesus among his creation, before and after his death and resurrection, means that God’s reign and rule is here now. The immediate expectation of the kingdom of God had (and still has) been fulfilled. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭ESV

with you always

‬‬
For those hearing Jesus speak his sermon, the true son of God was present with them. Just as he is present with us. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. As C.S. Lewis puts it “The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe [life], into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into the live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.

Born-again
Jesus’ words and presence gave (and continues to give) many of his hearers faith to see that when he acted, God also acted. The rule of God was coming into play, the kingdom of God was at hand. They were aware of the invisible presence of God acting within the visible reality and action of Jesus. Not all who heard, or hear, believed. Not everyone will be aware of this invisible presence acting through our visible realities. As Jesus told Nicodemus that late night, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV. Not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth. The ability to see the world again as a child. ‬‬”Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

image of the invisible god
Sometimes we’ve just become so wise and so smart that we just can’t see the kingdom of God. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Hebrews‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The image of the invisible God, the exact imprint of his nature. When we see Jesus, we see God. We think we know so much, but we can’t even see his work in our own lives. He seems so far away to us, being seated at the right hand of the father, that we think he just can’t be with us always.

at hand
But the thing we miss is that, yes, Jesus is both at the right hand of the Father, having power and dominion over all the nations, and is with you always, to the end of the age. Because heaven is not a far away destination to which we are going. Heaven is not some place out there, “turn right at the Hubble telescope, take the left at the second moon of Saturn, and just fly straight to the fifth galaxy, and you’ve come to the kingdom of heaven!” No, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. I don’t understand it, it is beyond all my powers of comprehension. I am not meant to understand it. The only way for me to perceive it at all is to be born again and see it as one of the little children. Because God, creator of the universe, is the creator. He made creation, he is immersed in creation. But he is not a part of his creation. This is why we will never, empirically, be able to prove or disprove the existence of God. Because just as we might create a swimming pool, and immerse ourselves in that pool, we will never be a part of that pool. So it is with God, and Jesus His only son. They created, but they are not part of creation. This us the profundity of the incarnation of Christ, that he came and joined us, joined in his creation, became a part of us.

crucifixion-of-jesus-christ-2
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. He is seated at the right hand of the father, and is with you always. Yes, he is both, at the same time, right here and right now. We will never be able to prove, He can not be measured as part of creation. He is creator, not created. He is the one who was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. The one with all authority under heaven and on earth.

“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:28-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.7.28-29.esv

John Lewis

Leaking Foudations

Water damaged and moldy basement wall

Jesus, the great civil engineer, talking about foundations of rock and foundations of sand.

house on the rock

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

water issues
I’ve been told that every house has water issues. There is nothing you can do about it. Water is going to come. Whether these water “issues” becomes the ruin of a house depends on what systems are in place for dealing with that water.

caught in a storm
So it is with the storms of life. We can run, but we can’t hide. In this life, in this broken world, we will be tried. We will be tested. There will be storms to rock and challenge our foundations. These storms can (and will) come from every direction, in every form we can imagine. Jesus captures that for us with the pictures he paints in our mind. And the rain fell – we can be attacked from above. And the floods came – the attacks can come from underneath us. And the winds blew and beat on that house – attacks can blow in from every direction. As Jesus himself had said before – “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes…” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. These days, we think we know where it’s coming from and where it’s going, yet still, the wind can just come and blow us away. We hear it’s sound, we know it’s there, we even know it’s coming. But there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

jesus-christ-images-3
But we can build our house on the rock. And as Paul told us in his letter to the Corinthians – For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Christ is our rock. He is our foundation. We come to him in faith, we profess our faith openly to him. Then we follow.

jonah-and-the-whale
We follow because we believe. Not just an external belief, but we believe in our hearts that Christ rose from the dead. We believe Christ rose from the dead, therefore we have our sign that he knew what he was talking about. “But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew‬ ‭12:39-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of the unwilling prophet, the Queen of Sheba came seeking the wisdom of Solomon. We are judged by the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba, because we have the sign of Jonah. Jesus spent three days in the belly of the earth, he has been vindicated by the father as being greater than Jonah and wiser than Solomon. So, we believe in our hearts Jesus was raised from the dead, and we listen to him.

rock was christ

We don’t know where, when or how these storms will come. They could be a natural disaster to test our resolve, our faith in God, our trust in him. We could get a flirty new coworker who’s not so hard on the eyes (or ego). We might (will) be challenged this week simply driving to work. The storms and temptations of life will come. Is your foundation built on the rock? Will your house be the one that did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. The rock that is Jesus Christ.

road rage
Have you overcome your anger so that you don’t wind up plucked off at 80 mph?? Have you stopped looking at people as objects to be used, or stopped being controlled by your lust and desire, so that every pretty face, handsome smile, or flirty wink and smile might cause water to begin seeping in? Are you ready to dump people at the nearest exit as soon as they don’t fill some need or desire in your life? Are you ready to carpet bomb the entire Middle East because you disagree with someone on CNN?
Or – are will willing to return good for evil. To return forgiveness instead of vengeance. To put the needs and desires above our own. Even if we don’t understand their needs or desires?? Are we willing to pray for those who offend us? Do we believe in forgiveness seventy times seven? Or will we take vengeance seven times over? If I stomp your toe, can I expect a broken leg in return?

violence
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Will we seek vengeance, or pray for our enemies? Are we generous, or only seeking attention? Do we believe God sent his son to save the world, or only that part of the world that looks and acts like us?? Our salvation depends on the answers to these questions. Eternity does not begin when we die – our eternal life begins the say we are born into this broken world. Will we spend our days working with Jesus to bring his new Jerusalem? Or will we spend our time participating with hell on earth and leave that new Jerusalem and God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven to some other generation?

abundant life.jpg
Jesus gave us a way to live life that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Do we believe him? Or are we those whose foundation us built on sand? Those who say the sinners prayer, check that box, claim for ourselves “once saved, always saved”, yet are just hearers, and not doers, of his word? Are we really just about fulfilling our own desires in Jesus’ name?

abide in him
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV

 

“”Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ ‭ESV

‬‬http://bible.com/59/mat.7.24-27.esv
“…For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:22‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Romans‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:7‬ ‭ESV

‬‬
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV

‬‬

John Lewis

“Cogito Ergo Sum”

Cogito-Ergo-Sum-Cat-e1403041889132

“I think, therefore I am.” Or in Latin – “Cogito ergo sum.” As it first appeared in French – “donc je suis.” A well meaning man’s effort to get to the basic of being, of exactly who we are. Rene Descartes was a devout Catholic and believer in the resurrected Christ, but Descartes wanted to be able to know. He wanted to know beyond all doubt why he was here, and that he existed. So, the cogito, as it came to be know, became the basis for just about all modern western philosophy. We believed, and maybe still believe, that this gave us a secure foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt. A fuller version was later given, “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.” While all other knowledge could be an illusion, imagination, lie, or just wrong, Descartes asserted that as long as one doubts one’s own existence, that at least proved the existence of the mind which doubted, which thereby proves the existence of the entity which has the mind which doubted. It proved the existence of self. And so the enlightenment was born, and we’ve being seeing the world through the lens of our self ever since.

descartes_i_think____theref
But there is one problem with Rene Descartes revelation. Descartes expressed his thought, indeed thought his thought, “Cogito ergo sum,” in a language. Whether it was originally thought in Latin or French, I do not know the inner machinations of the mind of Rene Descartes, but I do know this – he thinks, therefore he is, in a language. A language which he did not create. A language which he did not think up himself. A language which he received from someone who taught him to speak in that language. To think in that language. Because such is the nature of language.  We don’t invent, create, or make up the language we speak. We simply receive it. It is a gift given to us by the community in which we are raised. You can’t buy it.  You don’t work for it.  It is passed down to us, given to us by the society and culture in which we are raised.  It can only come from the generations that have gone before.

learning to talk
What is my point? The point is that, if we think, therefore we are, then even by that self-centered philosophy, without the community around us to give us that language to think in, we do not exist. You can not even think outside of the freely given gift of language from the community in which you were born.  Because without that language, you cannot even form a rational thought in your own mind. That language you did earn, did not work for and did not invent. You just received it, your free gift for being. So, we think therefore we are. But we don’t even exist, we are not, without that free gift of language from the community we are born into.

Glasses on Open Bible
And so it is with our Christian faith. We didn’t invent it. We didn’t make it up. We couldn’t and wouldn’t make that up anyway, would we? We receive it. Christianity, like the free gift of salvation which it offers, is only a received faith. It is passed down from generation to generation. The doctrine of the Trinity, father, God and Holy Spirit. We didn’t come up with, or invent that. That Christ died for our sins…we didn’t make that up. That we may like to go to heaven and not the gates of hell, we did not create that ourselves. We learned that, we received this hope.

justgivemejesus
Yet, so many of us claim that we can do it on our own. ‘I don’t need church, I just need Jesus.’ ‘I have my bible, I don’t need no stinking church or no stinking church people!’ To which we should ask the question, which Jesus, and what Bible? Tell me about them. Tell me about this Jesus which you have your personal relationship with.  

Moses Receiving the Law Exodus 31:18
Because everything we know, and everything we think we know, about Jesus, we know from the community of faith and believers who passed that down through the generation. You didn’t make any of it up yourself. You did not receive it through your own personal divine revelation.  It took the early church at least 400 years, with all the best and brightest minds, using all the methods they had learned from Greek and Roman philosophy, to come up with the doctrine of the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. ‘But its in the bible!’ Of course its in the Bible. It always was. But, without the traditions that have been handed down from the church, you would and could not pull that out of the Bible. In other words, if you had never heard of Christianity, Jesus Christ, or any of the stories, you could be locked into a room for a year with the Bible, read 8 hours a day, six days a week. And when you were finished, we could ask you to tell us about God. And you most definitively would not start explaining to us about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You would not start giving us atonement theories. You would not start explaining how we are justified by faith. It’s all in the book. But just reading it on your own, without the stories and beliefs which we have received as believers (and even as unbelievers), we would arrive at none of these conclusions on our own.

trinity
And let’s talk about the Bible. Where did it come from? You don’t need no stinking church – but who do you think created the Bible you claim to rely on? Yes, it was inspired, through 40+ writers, multiple languages, over 1500 years, by the Holy Spirit. But it was compiled, gathered, canonized, and organized by the very church which you claim you don’t need. It did not just fall from heaven into your lap.

love-one-another-crosses
Christianity is not a solo project. A lone Christian is no Christian at all. Christ’s most basic commands would be impossible. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” John‬ ‭13:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “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.” John‬ ‭13:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬. “”This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John‬ ‭15:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬. So, if you don’t need or want the church, just Jesus – what, exactly, are you to with this commandment to love one another?  This is just a small sample, that command comes over and over again. And again. If you are a Lone Ranger Christian, do you just ignore this? Because it seems it would be hard to love one another without the one another. Reminds me of the old Billy Idol (an apt name) song “Dancing with myself”.

baptism
We don’t do this alone. Our Christian faith is a shared faith. The most basic, sacramental elements of our faith are communal in nature. You can’t baptize yourself, you can’t partake in the body and blood of Christ, broken for you, by yourself.

sacraments
Why would you want to do it on your own? This occurred to me on stage giving a CR lesson last Friday night, a lesson called “admit”. The apostle Paul tells us to “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬. We obey the law of Christ by sharing and carrying each other’s burdens. And we know the law of Christ – to love God and love neighbor. And of course, this little thing of love one another. But this us what came to me on stage last Friday night – that in following Paul’s command of sharing each other’s burdens, we accept Jesus’ invitation to “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We, the church, are all part of the body of Christ, correct? Correct! So, when we share each other’s burdens, when you share what’s burdening you with your brother or sister, you are sharing that burden with Jesus Christ himself. The way we come to him, is by coming to his body, the church. You come to the church by coming to the individual members, one another.

confess you sins
James, the half brother of Jesus, tells us “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Again, that one another thing. This is how we find healing, how we begin to walk in the light of Christ and our own salvation. This is where healing begins!! We come to each other, one another, we pray for and with each other. We can not do it alone. We weren’t made to walk alone. I don’t care what your radio tells you.

come to me

Accept Jesus’ invitation.  If you are laboring, heavy laden, weary, he will give you rest.  Take his yoke upon you.  It’s where you will find rest for your soul.  Come to church, find the body of Christ, find rest for you souls.  Our yoke is easy, our burden is light.

come unto me
Cogito ergo sum. Except that without the community to walk with you, give you that language, pass down that faith, you can’t even think on your own. About God, Jesus, or anything else.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.11.28-30.esv
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

‭‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jas.5.16.esv
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/gal.6.2.nlt

John Lewis

 

Our Will Be Done…

romans-10-9-christian-ipad-backgrounds-wallpaper-bible-lock-screens

The Sermon on the Mount, and not all who read this will be happy with it. We live and grow up in a Christianity that tells us to say a sinners prayer, usually based on Romans 10:9 (“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”‭‭ Romans‬ ‭10:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬) check our “salvation box”, and now we who once were “out” and condemned to hell when we die are now “in” and have just assured ourselves of a magic carpet ride with a disembodied soul to live in heaven for eternity. But, if you read what Paul is telling us in this great passage from Romans, he us simply echoing what Jesus told us in his beatitudes at the outset of this Sermon on the Mount – that the kingdom of heaven is at hand and available to all who would come to it. It is no longer exclusive to the Jews only, but also available  to the Gentiles – or anyone else who would come. Look one verse farther at what Paul says – “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬. As in so many other of Paul’s great messages, he is simply echoing what Jesus said all along – “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.” Luke‬ ‭13:29‬ ‭ESV

lord lord.png

‬‬
So, as Jesus is wrapping up his message on the hill, he gives us this little note – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. So, why does it seem as though Paul is contradicting Jesus here? Paul (and many others) tells us everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, but Jesus explicitly says Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The reason is simple – we have a different definition for “kingdom of heaven” than Jesus.

souls flying to heaven

For us, the “kingdom of heaven” is where we hope our disembodied souls will fly off to at our death, our eternal resting place, our true and final “home“. It’s the “great Christian hope” we cling to. It’s what we’ve been taught, it’s all we’ve known. So, when we read Jesus (and Paul) we are just puzzled by even the most basic Gospel statement Jesus himself ever made – “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We are puzzled by this, we miss the point. We think Jesus is talking cryptically about himself being present in the world, and in a way that’s true enough. It is his presence that brings the kingdom, but Jesus message then, as it remains to this moment, is the same – the kingdom of heaven is at hand. As in, right here, right now. Even in his basic prayer which he gave us, he refers to the kingdom being present on earth as it is in heaven.

kingdom.jpg
So, essentially, most of us do not miss the kingdom of heaven by 14 inches, or whatever the difference is between the head and the heart, as is so often said. The reason we miss the kingdom of heaven is the same reason Jesus told Nicodemus he would miss the kingdom. “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”” John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We miss the kingdom of heaven because we are never actually born again, in the words of Jesus. Because, and Nicodemus understood exactly what Jesus was telling him here in this discussion between two rabbis of Israel, to be born again is to be able to rethink, or repent, of how we see the world. And unless Nicodemus was born again, unless we are born again (again), he would not see the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, which Matthew calls the kingdom of heaven because Matthew rights specifically to the Jewish audience for whom using the Lord’s name was to be feared, which is at hand.

kingdom of god
So we say our sinners prayers, check our box, and live our lives, same as it ever was. We don’t repent, we don’t rethink, we don’t see the kingdom of God. We just continue to help create our hell on earth, doing and seeking our own will, standing up for our rights, doing things our way.

good creation
Because we forget that God called his creation good, good, and very good in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, we think that the ultimate Christian hope is the destruction of our good planet in a final Armageddon, which will signal Christ’s return to separate the wheat from the chaff and whisk all his saints off to heaven. So who cares what we do, how we treat people, how we treat the planet?

save the world
We forget what Jesus told Nicodemus that dark night as they continued their talk. “”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬. I could go on and on, but let’s say this right now – God sent Jesus in the flesh to save the world. He did not send him to save parts of people for another world. And unless we are born again, we will never see that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. So some will call Jesus “Lord” and still not enter the kingdom of heaven. Because we will miss the kingdom when we see it. We do miss the kingdom when we see it. For the kingdom of heaven is at hand, right here, right now, and we do not see it. We do not believe what Jesus tells us. We will not follow his path as laid out in the sermon on the mount, the path that includes the teaching about not just forgiving, but loving our enemies. The path that includes laying aside our anger, our lust, our very wills. Because we are still about carrying out our own wills. We may use the name of Jesus, but we still seek for our will to be done, not his. Because, after all, this world is run by us, all we need Jesus for is that trip to heaven when we die.

Lord
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. We can do all the great things we want. We can create all the wealth, cure all the diseases, drive the best cars, send our kids to the best schools, feed, house, and clothe all the poor we want (through a government program, of course. I mean, Jesus didn’t actually intend for me to do all this personally, in my own life, did he?). We can even do them in his name. But unless we are doing his will in his name, not our will in his name, then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you’.

born-again-jesus

How do we know what his will is? The first thing Jesus ever told us to do is the same thing he continues to tell us – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent, turn, change, be born again. Become willing and able to see the world differently, to see the other as your brother (he’s always been your brother anyway, you just have never been able to see that, never been able to see the kingdom of God. Never been able to the the kingdom where all the others are our brothers.). It is after we repent, are born again, and can see the world differently, that we begin to see the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

repent
It is only then that we can begin to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬. It is only then that we can do the will of my Father who is in heaven. 

YouMustBeBornAgain

It is only then that we really begin to understand that the great Christian in not that we are going, but He is coming.

“”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.7.21-23.esv

John Lewis

Honor Your Father and Mother

Honor_Your_Father_Mother

Principle 6 of recovery (from the Celebrate Recovery principles) reads as follows – “Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.” This differs from the secular 12 step program specifically in that the twelve steps focus entirely on harm we’ve done to others, with no place for offering forgiveness of others for wrongs done to us.

Making-Amends
Step 8 – “We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

12 steps
Step 9 – “We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

clean-up-your-mess
I bring this up simply because I just noticed it this morning while looking up this principle and these steps in relation to the scripture I am looking at this morning. Those of us in recovery have often (as in almost always) made a mess of things in our lives. If not…we would not be “in recovery.” It is in doing our inventory and getting to steps 8 and 9 that we begin to clean up the mess we’ve made.

holding a gudge
But also very often (again, as in nearly always), those of us in recovery have certain resentments and grudges we’ve carried around for much of our lives. It is often these resentments we have that lead to the hurts, habits and hangups from which we then try to recover. So not to deal with these resentments and grudges we carry, not to address the poison we carry around with us in our souls, seems as though it might leave a gaping hole in our recoveries. (To be fair – I have worked with a sponsor in AA and we did work on resentments, so that is not left out of the tradition altogether. But it does seem like a gaping hole in the steps which seems to only be filled by the presence of a very good sponsor.)
Which leads me, finally, to the actual point I may or may not have in mind today.

honor your father and mother
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Honor your father and mother – do you realize that this is the 5th commandment of God from the Old Testament? As in the Ten Commandments? As in before ‘do not murder’, ‘do not steal’, or ‘do not commit adultery’ (but after ‘keep the sabbath’ – in a quick nod to my pastor for this Sunday’s sermon), we are commanded by God to honor our father and mother. This is not a suggestion or a request, but a command. A command, as the apostle Paul note in Ephesians 6:2, with a promise – that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

love-advantage
Why this promise? What does honoring our father and mother have to do with a long and healthy life? One word – gratefulness. A long and healthy existence requires that we be grateful to God for who we are. But we can not be grateful to God for who we are without being thankful to God for our parents, from whom we came from. If we are ungrateful to God for our parents, we are basically saying to God that he made a mistake, and that we know better who we should have been born through than he does. We question his plan and purpose for our lives. We demonstrate our lack of faith and belief that God is good, and that he loves us.
But even more than that, to reject and be angry with our parents is to reject and be angry with ourselves. Our parents, like it or not, are part of our identity. Just as we were made in the image of God, our parents were made in the image of God. Which is a good thing, because so clearly we were made in the image of our parents. So, living angry at our parents means we reject and live in anger with ourselves. They are part of who we are. To reject and be angry with ourselves leads to sickness and death, both spiritual and physical. We can not reject ourselves and love God.

man-walking-through-destroyed-city
It is this breach in our souls called self-rejection that has led to all kinds of evil in the world. It us where the Adolf Hitlers come from. But for every Hitler, there are millions who destroy themselves and die in silence in every corner of the earth.
The very last words of the Old Testament addressed this very issue. “”Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”” ‭‭Malachi‬ ‭4:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This turning of the hearts between parents and children reflects a deep human need. What good is it to love your neighbor as yourself if you don’t love yourself?

making-amends2
So we must make our amends, whether we are “in recovery” or not. First of all, we must be honest about who and what our parents are, and how we truly feel about them. Then we must confess our wrong attitudes and actions towards our parents, and ask for forgiveness. Then we (I) must accept our parents for who and what they are, have mercy (pity) on them, and forgive them.

istock-purchased-surrender
All of which just sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Lucky for us recovery folks, we get to have a sponsor walk through this with us. For whoever is attempting to fill this hole in their soul, it will require much prayer and time with someone who can be a teacher or guide through the process, whether that be a counselor or mentor or someone else. It might be a long process. It’s been a long time coming. We must not get caught up in our old patterns with our parents. We must avoid the traps of wanting our parents to understand us, of being right, of always having the last word. We must not expect anything in particular from them in return. All this must simply be surrendered to God for him to work out as he will. Just as he worked out for them to be our parents in the first place.

Angry-at-God
Because, after all, that is what you’re mad about anyway, isn’t it?

“”Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/exo.20.12.esv
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.””

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/eph.6.1-3.esv

John Lewis

Love and Truth

Love and Truth

truth-in-love-300x270

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 

upper-room-discourse

This is a message from the upper room, where Jesus is distilling the essence of his teaching to his disciples. For three years He has been with them, teaching and showing what God is like, that He like the father of a prodigal son, who runs out on the road to meet his son, even while he is still far off, to welcome him home. For three years Jesus has shown His disciples by example exactly who they, and we, are called to be. This message comes from first communion table, Jesus has just established the sacrament of Lords Supper. In doing so, he has relocated center of God’s activities on the earth from the temple back to the table, where it actually began at the Passover with the Hebrew people in Egypt.
Jesus takes the disciples into the heart of his teaching. He takes his disciples into the very heart of what he’s been teaching for 3 years. What, exactly, is the heart of Jesus teaching?

thing-called-love
Jesus is talking about love.
We have 9 verses here, Jesus uses the word love 9 times. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. You will abide in my love. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this.  

circle dance
God is a trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A communion, a Holy Union. A trinity of divine, eternal, self giving love. John is right to say God is Love. The Father loves the Sin, the Son, loves the Father, the Holy Spirit is that love. Jesus here invites his disciples to participate in this divine dance of love.
Early church fathers, trying to communicate what God us like, liked to refer to the “circle dance”, the ongoing eternal dance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Now Jesus invites to join this dance.

Father Son Holy Spirit
 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Love-of-Christ
We come and bow down before the cross of Christ in worship, we call him Lord, and this is what is appropriate. But Jesus lifts us up and calls us “friend“. While we do accept that Jesus loves us, we find it really hard to believe Jesus likes us. We know he loves us, but we think Jesus plays that word game we sometimes play, especially maybe when we are angry or upset with someone, we might tell someone about another “I might love them, but I don’t have to like them!
What if Jesus really likes us?? It is true.

my friend
Do you remember Jesus calls Judas “friend” as Judas is betraying him? “Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭26:50‬ ‭NLT‬‬. Jesus says this with no irony. He considers Judas a friend. This means Judas can turn at any moment turn toward the light, toward love, and be embraced in the friendship of Christ. But it is up to him.
In John chapter 21, we see Jesus restore Peter to a deep sense of personal friendship. Do you believe that Jesus considered Peter to be his friend??

man-climbing-to-cross
Jesus is always inviting us to join him in his love. Unless you love your life will flash by. Unless you love, your life will flash by, because you will always be chasing some delusion. I am beginning to recognize that I chase a lot of delusions. I chase success, achievement, recognition, security, and yes, I pursue my own happiness, that great American Idol written directly into our earliest founding document. 45 years later, I’m still chasing it. Anxiety, soul killing commutes, sleepless nights, and wasted days have gotten me no closer.
Because, love alone can ground you in the present moment by giving your life sufficient meaning. It’s love that grounds us in the present moment, so that we can be content in the here and now instead of always chasing something else.

friends
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…Jesus throws that IF in there and we all become self judgmental, stressing about this like we stress about our job, thinking we have some impossible task for a harsh taskmaster whose commandments are an impossible demand. Another new “boss” the same as the old “boss”, just waiting to tear us down for not following his ways.

fortheloveofchrist-h1.jpg
But what’s his commandment we are to keep? This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. The commandment we must keep to abide in Jesus’ love is to love. Just like the circle dance of the trinity, Jesus’ great command here is a circle dance of love. If we want to abide in the love of Christ, the way to do that is to love. The commandment to abide in the love of Christ is simply to love.
Jesus gave us 2 commandments. We are to Love God with all our mind, strength, mind, and soul, and we must love our neighbors as ourselves. The biblical test case for loving God is loving neighbor. The test for loving neighbor is loving your enemy.
Christianity not a religion of rules but circle dance of love.
Love is the only valid defense of Christian faith. Love alone is credible. If we defend our Christian faith without Christian love, we are not credible.
It is by our love they will know we are disciples. Living a life characterized by love is what makes us credible. Maybe this is why we seem to have lost all credibility in society today. It seems we are known for everything but love.

635889314596531475679218412_1corinthians13_13
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. As the apostle Paul tells us here, without love we are nothing.
Yet – we viciously attack even each other over our Christian truth. We attack each other for our differing beliefs about how to love and worship our savior. Yes, right belief matters. But right belief about God is less important than love. Love alone is credible.

internet warriors
So internet warriors crusading for their “Christian truth” are not credible.
Treating people cruelly in defense of our Christian truth is a betrayal of Christ’s greatest command. The command that we be known for our love for one another. You may be right in your argument – but still be left behind as a credible disciple of Jesus.

persecution
We make much of the persecution of Christians around the world today. But throughout history, more Christians have been killed by other Christians than by our non Christian persecutors. During the reformation more Ana-Baptist Christians, who believed baptism was for adults and that Christianity should not be joined together with the state, were put to death than all Christians during all of Roman Empire.
From the Middle Ages through the reformation, there is a long history of Christians killing other Christians over “wrong belief.” There is one particular case of a here unnamed Protestant hero that I was going to share, but in the interest of not offending anyone too badly, I will speak in broad terms here. We all know what it means to be burned at the stake.  Don’t fully accept the orthodox view of things, don’t believe in the trinity, don’t accept “our” doctrine….we will kill you!! This was not a problem in the early church, they had all kinds of discussions and disagreements about what the cross meant, about Jesus’ divinity, about all sorts of things. But they didn’t reject the teaching of Christ to defend his truth. That didn’t happen until The Church became completely intertwined with The State.

burning-at-stake_0
When we speak of “combatting for God’s glory“, claiming that we know “the law God would have kept” and that in such combat we are to “forget all humanity“, we are missing the whole point. First of all, how can we forget humanity in the defense of Christianity? We serve a God we rightly believe was fully human, correct? I think I’ve said this before, to be inhumane in our treatment of others is to be against Christ, not for him. You might even call it anti-Christ.
The New Testament tells us God’s glory was defended by the cross. God was most glorified by his one and only begotten Son forgiving his enemies from the cross.

neighbors
Jesus half brother has this to say – “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” James‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Loving your neighbor is the royal law according to the Scripture. We would do well to remember this. God’s glory and honor are not defended by burning people at the stake.
The church was and u\is built on the shed blood of Jesus Christ, not the shed blood of heretics and infidels. Exactly what faith was being defended, or will be defended by cruelty and inhumanity? Attacking people under the banner of the cross is the ultimate exercise in missing the point. Because the cross us where Jesus forgives his enemies. He doesn’t climb upon that cross to kill his enemies. Let me ask you, exactly which museum is it that you can find the sword of Jesus Christ?
As Christians, we don’t use force or cruelty to convince others we are right.

greater love
Who have you burned at the stake lately? On Facebook? Or Twitter? Who have you excoriated on social media over their slightly different theology. Maybe they misinterpreted the seventh horn on the third dragon in Revelation. Heretic!!! 
Even worse, who have you attacked because of politics? Elephant and donkey games!!

Don’t be a disciple of the cable news hotheads who make their fortunes burning people at the stake.
Be a disciple of Jesus Christ, who taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. While we’re at it, love your enemies too.

10-facebook-like-free-cliparts-that-you-can-download-to-you-computer-0Qh2Xq-clipart
There is no Facebook exception.
We will contend for the truth if Christ. But we will always love more.

 

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:9-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/jhn.15.9-17.esv

John Lewis