Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Love that Leads to Obedience

Jesus said, "If you love me you will obey my commandments" and "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word." These are not conditional statements that are placing a demand. It does not mean "your obedience proves your love." It is a promise. It means "love will cause you to obey."

If you love your wife you won't leave her. However, the fact that you don't leave her doesn't mean that you love her. You don't prove your loving by just hanging around. But your staying with her is motivated by love. It is because of love that you stay with your wife. Likewise it is because of love that we obey God's commandments. You can however keep the rules and not even know God just like you can stay with your wife and not show her one bit of love. Obedience is just a fruit, an outward evidence, of inward love.
Obedience does not produce love. Love does produce obedience and it is God's love for us that produces our love for Him!

Love only exists in a relationship. Doing can be an expression of love but love comes from knowing not from doing.

The word Jesus uses for love describes a self-giving love. You only give yourself to someone you trust. The more you trust the more you are willing to give and share. Trust, or faith as it is often called in the Bible, is what opens the way to the growth of knowing, and loving, and giving. Trust means you consider God to be trustworthy enough to know, that He is truthful about Himself, and loving enough to be encountered.

Jesus commanded us to "love one another just as He has loved us." As John later wrote "We love because God first loved us." It is His love that shows us how to love. Jesus is essentially saying "I will love you so much that you will love one another, obey my commands, and my love will for you makes us friends. I will fulfill the requirement of loving. I chose you and chose to love you so much that you will love me and love others. I will be loving enough for the both of us. You will love because of me and you will love with my very own love."

Scriptures Referenced:
"If you love me you will obey my commandments" (John 14:15)
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word" (John 14:23)
"This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I loved you." (John 15:12)
"We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In Context: "Forsake not.." & "I can do all things.." Revisited

There were no chapter or verse separations in the original texts of scripture. The presence of these separations cause us to read a chapter or memorize a verse yet have no understanding of the story and the context.

Many bible studies are based around "reading a chapter" when the next chapter often in the first few verses clarifies what the previous was about. I have come across places in scripture where chapter breaks the context and where verses break the sentence. Many of those places are very popular such as:

Hebrews 10:24-25
"Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

A small portion of this text is used to get people to frequent a church building when the meeting doesn't even involve the "one anothers" mentioned not just in the context but in oft quoted verse itself. "One another" means "each and everyone involved." In a typical church service a few perform in front of many and the many have little to no interaction with anyone. The modern church service bares almost no resemblance to the assembling that is being talked about here in Hebrews. Today there are a few big mouths talking to a multitude of passive ears. Is an impersonal and non-interactive monologue (sermon) the same thing as everyone "encouraging one another"? Obviously not. Yet "forsaking not the assembling" as it is taught has ignored the context and come to be taught as "You must sit in the audience at church every week or you are in sin."

Philippians 4:12-13
"I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Of course "all things" is still "all things" but I find it interesting that contentment, one of humanity's most elusive features, is the context in which Paul says "I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is often taken as a license to follow my own selfish ambition in God's name and chase after "greatness" rather than God enabling me to be content with wherever He has me right now.

Read The First Visits:  In Context: "Forsake not the assembling..", In Context: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."