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John 14:15-17, NIV15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will askthe Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept himbecause it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
December 19, 2011 If you love me; when you love me. I think either word will do, but I prefer when. Or maybe it could read: If only you would love and obey me. . . . Love is an action word and involves participation. In this case obeyingthe desires and teachings of Jesus. When Jesus started talking to his disciples about love, the Gospel takes on a totally new tone. It is different from his many discourses with the crowds and the religious leaders of previous chapters.
Jesus links our love for him with a gift we receive exclusively from God. A forever gift. A constant companion. Counselor, the Spirit of truth, unseen and unknown to the world. Christian doctrine refers to this gift as the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit.
When you internalize the teachings of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will come to you, stand by you, be with you always. Now that's a great promise.
His disciples recognize the Spirit; the world doesn't. It takes eyes of faith and a heart of love in order to see and know the Holy Spirit. Invisible, intangible--disciples such as Thomas and Philip were accustomed to Jesus in the flesh and would have difficulty processing this teaching. Jesus in the flesh was going away. Jesus in spirit would come to those who love and obey. We will know the Holy Spirit experientially because he will live with us and in us.
December 20, 2011What do I know of loving God? I know it's not difficult to love someone to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. Throughout my life I have received better from the hands of my heavenly Father than I deserved, much better, in terms of grace and forgiveness, blessings and providential care.
I think the most impressive means of experiencing God's love is through other people. Loving God can take the enjoyable form of performing an act of kindness for another person. Music can arouse those emotions also. When my heart is open, God's love pours in. I know that love for God can get me out of bed early in the morning to spend one-to-one time with my heavenly Father. My thoughts return many times throughout the day to that holy place I call my home.
John Wesley is known for his descriptive phrase, "my heart was strangely warmed." I borrow those words to acknowledge that many times the words and writings of past and present saints have warmed my heart and caused me to settle deeply into the loving arms of my Creator. Made in his image, I am most at home when I give God my time and attention. I feel God's presence with me as I write, inspiring my thoughts and encouraging me to persevere, inviting me to return to my real home again and again.
Time after time I have heard or read that God loves me, and that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in order to demonstrate that love. But one of my favorite images of God in the Bible is the parable wherein the waiting father ran to meet his wayward, returning son and welcome him back into the family. I no longer wander as far away as I once did, but even now after the busyness of the day, or a week away from my usual routines, my heart is strangely warmed when I return and God runs to welcome me back. God's grace, that eternal loving-kindness, has conquered all my defenses. I am a captive of my Maker's love.
John 14:18-21, NIV18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
December 21, 2011Even though Jesus would die on the following day, he told his disciples he was not leaving them alone, he would come to them. Not in the flesh, but in spirit. Most people will not see him anymore, but the disciples will "see" him. Jesus assured them, because he lived, they also will live. Here's the new arrangement--Jesus would live in the Father and Jesus and the disciples would live in each other.
We are not orphans in this universe, nor in our private lives. Those who claim God as their heavenly Father are never like a child without a parent to guide and protect them.
This is an eternal promise Jesus gave to his loyal disciples. We don't live by feelings, we live by faith. Feelings are fickle and unreliable. We are to trust these words of Jesus instead, on sunny days and during stormy times too.
We know from our daily lives that love makes so many things possible, and bearable. So we are not surprised that Jesus made faith and love a big part of his final conversation with his disciples. Loving God is a step beyond believing. It equates to this--God will love that person, or to put that another way, that person will recognize the love God has for them. Also Jesus will reveal himself in spirit to them.
The Holy Spirit is Jesus in the present tense. Alive though dead. The world will see Jesus no more, but you will see him through eyes of faith. Then you will realize (fully believe and understand) that I am in God, you are in me (even though I have died) and I am in you (wherever you may be)! What all-encompassing statements! To eyes of faith he is alive and always will be alive. The world will see him no more--no faith. But "you will see me"--faith.