Monday, May 04, 2009

To Love Is To Obey

1 John 2:3-6 -  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

I struggle with obeying God. I think, I would not be alone in saying this. From the little things like saying sorry when I have wronged someone (but feel righteous in hurting that person), to the big things like not doing my quiet time, not being still to know he is God - I have disobeyed the Lord, and despite all my good intentions, I still do.

I know what Paul means when he says he hates his flesh. All the stuff he wants to do, he doesn't. All the things he shouldn't be doing, he does. Times like these I wonder if the Opus Dei are not so weird for wearing their little crown of thorns around their thighs, just to remind themselves to not give in to the flesh.

Okay that's pretty extreme. I'm not a bondage kind of girl (anymore).

If someone says they know Jesus and Jesus is their Lord, if they disobey Jesus' commands, then Bible says this person is a liar and the truth is not in him.

What are Jesus's commands? When Jesus asked the expert of the law (Luke 10:25-28) he replied:

a. "Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength." I take that to mean, put God first - He permeates every thought, decision, action we take.

b. "Love your neighbour as yourself." Put others before ourselves, find ways to help them, go out of your way to help them (this was illustrated by the parable of the Good Samaritan)

Jesus agreed with these. These are the 2 commands of Christ that have brought our church thus far. 

I  found this study that's quite interesting - it lists the 7 major commands of Jesus:

1. Repentance (Luke 24:33-53)
a. Water Baptism (Luke 3:1-18)
b. Baptism by the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:5-13)

2. Faith (Luke 18:9-17)
a. Letting the Seed Grow in our Hearts (Mark 4:1-20)
b. Persevering Faith (Heb 10:19-12:13)

3. Love (Luke 10:25-37)

4. Pray (Luke 18:1-8)

5. Give (Mark 12:41-44)

6. Communion (1 Corinthians 11: 17-34

7. Make Disciples (Mark 1:14-20)

Our church is built on #3: Love. This is the greatest commandment of them all - because if I obey this commandment in FULL, I would be loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, strength (and I would be repenting, praying, giving, exercising my faith), and I would be loving other people  as I love myself (teaching and making disciples to grow them in their faith, having communion with them in remembrance of Christ, giving, praying for them...).

As Christians, sometimes we get so zealous and jealous for the Lord. I've chilled a lot now, but previously I would get into fights with non-believers about my God. 

As I grew - I began to realise that Jesus really is our best example. He never stormed the temple and mounted a hostile takeover, even though the temple was being used to preach all sorts of heresy and keep the people in bondage. Did He rebuke the temple leaders? Yes, but only when they came to Him and asked Him dumb questions. 

Instead Jesus focused on the right stuff - teaching the people the truth, because the truth set them free. When the teachers of the law try to trap Him with scriptural knowledge and conundrums, He refused to get down to their level. He simply rewrapped the question and returned to sender (eg. the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-1).

Is this the way we should show love? Don't get distracted - do what we are commanded. Don't engage in fights with people who are not of the spirit - that's casting pearls before swine. They cannot understand the things of the spirit - it is foolishness to them.

I'm trying not to climb on my soapbox. What a temptation. But in the light of the AWARE battle, it was not a battle in which God was with the Christians. It was clear that they were going to lose this one big time - I prayed for their protection, that no harm would befall them or their familes, that they would come out of the fire not smelling of smoke (not sure about that one).

It was not something Jesus would have done - no matter how noble their intent, it was not of God. Because it demonstrated a severe lack of love for our neighbours - these are the people that ended up chasing the new exco out of AWARE. We are called to win the lost, not hammer them into submission. 

Gays and lesbians - we know what the Bible says (Romans 1: 26-27; 1 Cor 6:9). But ultimately we too were all sinners that were saved by Jesus' work on the cross. Can one love God wholeheartedly and still be gay? Well, can one love God wholeheartedly and still murder? Can one love God wholeheartedly and still commit adultery? Think about it.

All I know is that, in this arena of gender issues, the battle belongs to the Lord. Where emotions have been invested, there is no easy way to walk away for anyone who has loved, whether you are straight or not. 

Yes, as Christian parents, and responsible parents, we should know what our kids are being taught in school. How much should they know? It's not what they know, but how we, as parents, explain these facts to them Biblically. Innocence is not isolating oneself from the world. Innocence, like Joseph when his boss's wife wanted to sleep with him, is virtue tested and triumphant. Like me, you want your kids, when faced with temptation, to make the right choice by themselves.

So back to obedience: But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. Can I obey God's word? In order to obey it, I gotta know it. In order to know it, I gotta read it and meditate and memorise it. But I know when I do, God's love is made complete in me and I will know how to live my life for His glory. 


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