Paul usually included a benediction of grace and peace in his letters. “The God of peace be with all of you. Amen” (Romans 15:33). “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24). “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen” (Galatians 6:18). Here our greetings convey both human love and divine favor. Paul was not merely talking about a blessing; he was imparting it. In doing so, Paul was drawing on a rich Old Testament tradition. The “blessing” was standard practice among the people of God from the very beginning. Fathers pronounced a blessing on their children, a leader on the people. The blessing was given through prophetic utterance or the change of a name. Such a blessing communicated God’s favor. The loss of blessing was considered a terrible curse, as we learn from Esau, who wept bitterly when his father decided to let the blessing on Jacob remain, even though he had received it under false pretense.
Esau’s cry-“O Father, bless me!”-has echoed through the centuries in the hearts of those who have never received a greeting that carries the blessing of God. Children, parents, spouses, lovers, colleagues and friends want to know that our love for them reflects the love of God, that our love for them channels the love of God. People want to know that God’s favor rests on them. They depend on us, at least in part, to receive that blessing.
Our Christian enemies need that blessing too. I am not proposing that we ignore or dismiss tensions in the church today, but I am suggesting that we mitigate them by praying the favor of God on our Christian opponents whenever we meet them, whether in cordial or adversarial situations. They belong to God, as we do; they believe in God, as we do; they stand in need of God, as we do. The substance of our disagreements might not change, but the spirit of the relationship often will if in our greetings we bestow God’s blessing. We need to remind our opponents that though we differ with them in theology or practice, we still regard them as Christian brethren.
Gerald L. Sittser. Love One Another: Becoming the Church Jesus Longs For (Kindle Locations 316-328). Kindle Edition.
A series on Love, Part 3
The second way that Love becomes our livery is through the expression of love with our tongues. Once we are thinking differently about love and what it means to truly love people, it will naturally transform our modes of expressing love. The first and foremost involves the powerful, dangerous and volatile organ of the tongue.
We are made in the image of God and as so we are imitators of God, meaning what we do is a reflection or mimic of what He does. In Genesis we read that God created everything out of nothing by speaking. His words are light, planets, animals, plants; creation itself. God’s word makes, God’s words are reality; the stuff we see, feel, taste and hear.
We don’t create from nothing as God does, our words reshape matter and speaking is a primary function of taking dominion.
Think of words that have lasting, material power. “I now pronounce you man and wife.” “The jury finds you not Guilty.” “Raise your right hand and repeat after me.” “Strike 3, you’re out.” In all of these instances men declare things and alter reality or define reality.
Writing poetry, stories, movie scripts, etc. is the same. Tolkien can create the universe of Middle Earth because he is an image bearer and a maker like God, who creates universes, lives, histories and story through the power of words. In like manner, God destroys with words of cursing and judgment. The Father curses Satan and the ground on man’s behalf at the fall which had permanent affect. Continue reading “Love is a Way of Speaking”
WCF, Chapter 3
God’s plan includes all things – everything! Nothing is too insignificant or complex to be included. God’s decree is not contingent upon anything, except His own decree. God decress the outcomes of human events. God decrees that some will be obedient and some will remain in their sin.
He shows mercy to whom he shows mercy and hardens whom he hardens. In order to display his grace, his power and control over sin and salvation, as well as to humble men’s hearts, who quickly make their obedience the cause and not the result of God’s mercies. God decrees the means. Section 6 refers to calling, repentance, justification, sanctification etc. These are addressed individually throughout the rest of the Confession.
Today we may wonder If God has elected certain men to salvation, then why pray, preach, witness, etc.? Right, this was asked last week. Continue reading “It is as God decreed”
“Your heart can become a prayer factory because, like Jesus, you are completely dependent. You needed God ten minutes ago; you need him now. Instead of hunting for the perfect spiritual state to lift you above the chaos, pray in the chaos. As your heart or your circumstances generate problems, keep generating prayer. You will find that the chaos lessens.
We see this pattern in Paul’s advice to the Philippians about anxiety.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
…When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching. You watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God’s drama. As you wait, you begin to see him work, and your life begins to sparkle with wonder. You are learning to trust again.”
Miller, Paul. A Praying Life. 72-73.