This is My Body Broken for You

We have been called to arise; to enter the Holy of Holies and worship the Triune God. We have come by the sacrifice of another, by the leading of His Spirit to worship our Father in Heaven.

We have come to raise our voices and respond to the goodness of our Lord. We have come to be renewed and strengthened. Those you have ears to hear, let them hear.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

That’s the challenge; understand the will of the Lord, and walk and act accordingly. But our flesh likes easy, safe, selfishness. We have our own desires. We have our own wills and they struggle against the Spirit and our faith every day. The mission of the Lord is others focused. The love of the Triune God faces out. The will of the Father is that His children will lay down their lives for others just like our older brother Jesus laid down is His life for you.

The calling of the Christian Faith is “This is my body broken for you….Husbands, Wives, Parents, Masters, servants, friends…this is your calling. Everyone, this is your calling. This is a calling so heavy only the humble can carry it. It will break the backs of the proud. This is my body broken for you…

Look around. Look around this church. Look around your neighborhood. Look around your family. You were not given bodies and redeemed for mere pleasure or selfish pursuits. Life was poured into you so that you could pour it out in the service of others.  This is my body, broken for you…

This requires walking by faith, fighting the easy safe selfishness that our flesh loves so much. It requires looking up and looking out. To the condition and welfare of others. It requires prayer, putting on the mind of Christ by daily submitting to His word and it requires repentance.

Now let us confess and ask God to forgive us for our selfishness and ask for the Spirit of God to reveal and lead us in understanding the will of our Lord.

 

 

The Table of Love shapes Society

A Series on Love, part 10

Jesus sits at the head of a table that serves life. The symbol of Jesus’ table is the bread and wine of His sacrifice. Jesus defines a different set of table manners for His table and it’s not the selfish and self-interested culture of worldly society. Jesus openly calls and welcomes people society rejects. He provides access to himself, He’s not exclusive. His table manners are the fruits of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The nature of Jesus’ table is found at the conclusion of the Prodigal son story in Luke 15:23-24; “And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Jesus’ table is one of calling, repentance, redemption and rejoicing over the Grace of God. Jesus defined His society by His table fellowship. He shaped the manner of that society by His table manners.

Table fellowship shapes society and defines community. Loners cease to be alone when they come to the table. Outcasts become friends when they are invited to the table. Sitting down at a table declares peace between its occupants. Continue reading “The Table of Love shapes Society”

The Table of Love is About More Than Food

Series on Love, Part 9

In Luke 4:4 Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God. But if so, why does Jesus go on to spend so much time at meals and talking about food?

We require something more fundamental to survive than just meat and drink. Man has deeper spiritual needs. Jesus uses food metaphorically. Jesus uses our need for food, symbolically. We are used to food metaphors like Jesus as the manna from heaven. But another Example is John 6:27 “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”

Food is a great metaphor because it represents a very instinctual need that every human has in common. Substitutionary atonement can be difficult for some people to grasp. But everyone understands “You’re hungry and I have food that will satisfy you forever and I give it to you gladly.”

Table fellowship is a way to get people involved in your day to day life. It’s a way to get involved in other people’s day to day life. But it’s not about the food, even though the food is a real tangible blessing. Ultimately it’s about building relationships.

Jesus chose the table and meals as the basis for His teaching ministry because it’s more intimate and people focused. Hospitality involves welcoming, creating time and space, listening, paying attention, and providing.

Meals slow things down. Some of us don’t like that. We like to get things done. But meals force us to be people oriented instead of task oriented. We have more important, more fundamental needs than food can satisfy but it was largely through poetical statements about food and through table fellowship that Jesus addressed the needs and developed opportunities to come along side people to teach and serve them. Continue reading “The Table of Love is About More Than Food”

The Christian Life

The Christian life is a life lived by the grace of God, under Christ’s law, in God’s world, in the presence of God himself. We love because God first loved us (1st John 4:19). The Triune God instigated a relationship with us. He created us, redeemed us, sustains us and gives us hope for a future life with him without sin, pain or death (Romans 8:30). This is the work of the Father, Son and Spirit who are a community of love creating a community of love, on earth, to share in their eternal glory.

This self-revealing, instigating love of God shapes our lives. It shapes ethics, behavior, schedules, faith, science, study, vocation, the arts; our very understanding of the world and our place in it.

Our first Trimester will be focus on this amazing reality. You Are God’s children (John 1:12-13) and heirs of the promises of God (Eph. 2:12) who are called to devote yourselves to the glory of God in all you do (Matthew 22:36-40).

The Westminster shorter Catechism begins with this question;

Question. 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Living by the grace of God

Conversion (Titus 3:5)

Living under Christ’s law.

The Law of Christ (John 13:34) 

Repentance (Luke 13:3, 5:32)

Forgiveness (Luke 17:3, Col. 3:13)

The fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:25)

Living in God’s world.

Walking by the spirit (Gal 15:16-17)

Bible reading (1st Tim. 3:15, Rom. 15:4)

Living in the presence of God Himself.

Worship (Heb. 13:15)

Christian Fellowship (Rom. 12:5, Acts 2:42)

Prayer (Luke 11:1)

Jesus Overcame Un-lovliness to Love

Series on Love, Part 7

This point is pretty straightforward. Jesus did not avoid spiritually or physically unlovely people. He didn’t avoid the rude, crude or crippled. Jesus’ mission was to save people who did not love him. People who were fallen in sin. Who moaned under the yoke and tyranny of corruption.

Jesus loved people who were outsiders, that society rejected and ignored. He stooped and in stooping lifted people up with Grace, service and love. Think of the woman at the well in John chapter 4. She was coming to the well alone. Most women came out to get water together, which was the custom, to help each other. This woman comes by herself, she’s an outcast. Does Jesus avoid her? Does he berate her for being an outcast? Does he begin the conversation by confronting her sin? No, He addresses her need. He doesn’t focus right in on her sin, he sees His sister in want. He sees past her unattractiveness and immorality to see the image of God in her that’s marred and under bondage and ministers to her there.

Other examples abound. Children, women of ill repute, paralytics, people on the fringe; cast out, forgotten, overlooked. Jesus overcomes their brokenness, ugliness and loves them. Frees them. Lifts them up with Grace. You were fallen. You were ugly. You had nothing to offer God. There was and is no way to reciprocate the love he’s given you and yet He loved you anyway. This is love. Not loving people who can repay you. Not loving people who are easy to love. Christ-like love is seen most purely when it’s extended toward people who cannot reciprocate in any way is most like Jesus’ love.

The arrogant, the self-righteous, the boastful, broken, un-bathed. The sick, the old, senile invalids, drug addicts, the drunks, the liars. Unlovely people often lack propriety, kindness, patience, you know, the fruits of the spirit. They are rude, self-important, crass and proud. Or they’re locked in sin and need freedom. That’s usually a pretty ugly situation that’s hard to be around. Jesus didn’t accept the corruption but saw past it to the marred image beneath that needed love, respect and dignity. He overcame the sin to get the sinner. He overcame the un-lovliness to love.

best friend of man
best friend of man (Photo credit: ygurvitz)

Jesus doesn’t avoid the unlovely He seeks them out. Treating people with love is not about accepting people’s sin it’s about overcoming the sin of people who need our love. Would you moms avoid the trashy looking lady at the park who is yelling at her kid? Would you feel it’s your responsibility to instruct her in proper parenting or would you ignore her completely? Could you overcome your prejudices and her ugliness to love her. To extend to her friendship and kindness?

Furthermore, a common reaction to people trapped in sin is to stay away from them until they get free of it. But if no light ever comes into a dark situation how is the dark going to recede? I didn’t see the ugliness of my own sin until light came into my dark corner bearing the love of the Father. And the one who bore that love prayed for me. She respected the least respectable person who ever lived. She gave dignity where there was none. She saw past the marred fallen-ness to the image of God beneath and loved that image.

Think of your own story. It was compassion that taught you compassion. It was hope that others expressed for you that gave you hope. Remember the person or persons who came like the sun into a dark cave and overcame your ugliness with love.

Now look at the ugliness around you. The angry atheist, the crass redneck, the arrogant businessman, the prideful outdoorsman, the graceless green tree-hugger, the drug addict, the homeless guy who probably could work and see past all the sin and un-lovliness to the image of God beneath. Look at the ugliness and how little there is to love. Go and find the image of God beneath and love it.

To love people with few or no good qualities is putting yourself into a very vulnerable state. It can be very difficult and dangerous to love an angry drunk, drug addict, the self-righteous, the dark and moody. It’s sapping. It requires dying. It’s opening yourself up to be sinned against and hurt. And that often holds us back. Uncertainty, distrust, fear.

C.S. Lewis wrote in the The Four Loves “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

This is what happens to a lot of Christians. The seed of God’s word goes down and sprouts up but the cares and worries of the world choke it. Fears smother the love inside of them and they bear no fruit. We must turn outward in faith and hope. Believe in the sustaining power of God’s love for you and let it extend through you to the unlovely. Be vulnerable and open.

Loving is risky business, but it’s the serious business of the kingdom. Jesus kneeled in the garden afraid. He knew what it would cost Him to love the unlovely. But He bowed His head and looked for protection and provision from God, the Father. Jesus overcame His personal fears to love like His Father loved Him. We too must overcome un-lovliness and its risks. We have to overcome our fears to love like we have been loved.

This is My Body Broken for You

We have been called to arise; to enter the Holy of Holies and worship the Triune God. We have come by the sacrifice of another, by the leading of His Spirit to worship our Father in Heaven.

We have come to raise our voices and respond to the goodness of our Lord. We have come to be renewed and strengthened. Those you have ears to hear, let them hear.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

That’s the challenge; understand the will of the Lord, and walk and act accordingly. But our flesh likes easy, safe, selfishness. We have our own desires. We have our own wills and they struggle against the Spirit and our faith every day. The mission of the Lord is others focused. The love of the Triune God faces out. The will of the Father is that His children will lay down their lives for others just like our older brother Jesus laid down is His life for you.

The calling of the Christian Faith is “This is my body broken for you….Husbands, Wives, Parents, Masters, servants, friends…this is your calling. Everyone, this is your calling. This is a calling so heavy only the humble can carry it. It will break the backs of the proud. This is my body broken for you…

Look around. Look around this church. Look around your neighborhood. Look around your family. You were not given bodies and redeemed for mere pleasure or selfish pursuits. Life was poured into you so that you could pour it out in the service of others.  This is my body, broken for you…

This requires walking by faith, fighting the easy safe selfishness that our flesh loves so much. It requires looking up and looking out. To the condition and welfare of others. It requires prayer, putting on the mind of Christ by daily submitting to His word and it requires repentance.

Now let us confess and ask God to forgive us for our selfishness and ask for the Spirit of God to reveal and lead us in understanding the will of our Lord.

Love at the Center

In contrast to the philosophies of atheism and pantheism, Jesus Christ put love at the center of life. Love is the central concern in Christ‘s apologetic to the world. Both John 13:35 and John 17:20- 23 indicate that the world will not know who Jesus is through the means of his ultimate apologetic-love among believers-unless believers demonstrate his love first to each other and then to the watching world. The New Testament emphasis on agape is utterly unique among world religions. The statement “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) cannot be said in any other view of life. The ultimate demonstration of love is the cross, and that is the painful, self-sacrificial, other-directed love to which we are called.

Art Lindsley. Love, the Ultimate Apologetic: The Heart of Christian Witness (pp. 160-161). Kindle Edition.

Jesus Doesn’t Meet Needs, He Exceeds Them

The woman taken in adultery
The woman taken in adultery

A Series on Love, Part 5

What overcomes you and prevents you from loving other people like you are supposed to? How could you be more like Jesus in expressing love? Consider John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Jesus overcame His enemies with Love. God so loved the world He gave and His giving overwhelmed the need of fallen man. It united all believers from every tribe into one Body. Our sin was not too much for Him. Jesus overcame evil with love. He cast out the darkness with His perfect light. This is our story. This is our hope. This is the reality in which we repent, marry, raise children, go to the bank, commune in worship, gather in each other’s homes and greet our neighbors over the fence. This is what we are to imitate. Jesus commands us to love like He has loved.

1st Corinthians 13:7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love overcomes. We are going to consider a few specific examples, over the next couple of posts, of Jesus’ love overcoming.

People brought Jesus their needs and Jesus responded by giving them what they needed and then some. Think of the paralytic who Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The guy just wanted to walk, but Jesus also forgave his sin. He gave the paralytic a better life and eternal life. More poignantly, Jesus saw people in need that hadn’t come to Him and He gave them what they needed and then some. Continue reading “Jesus Doesn’t Meet Needs, He Exceeds Them”

Love is a Way of Acting

A series on Love, Part 4

The other important aspect of our livery that is seen every day is how we act. People see

Icon of Jesus being led to Golgotha, 16th cent...
Icon of Jesus being led to Golgotha, 16th century, Theophanes the Cretan (Stavronikita Monastery, Mount Athos). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

us and can tell what kind of person we are by what we do and how we treat people, every day. The Apostles were not only concerned with the life of the mind they were concerned with obedience; with how Christians conduct themselves.

 

We see an important refrain of the New Testament in Philippians 4:9 “what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” The God of peace will not only be with you, but will be present in the lives of those who experience or witness your actions because you are practicing the Apostle’s teaching.

 

As it says in 1st Timothy 1:5 “ the aim of our charge is love,” which means that Love is the expression of the Apostle’s teaching. If you are expressing love in how you conduct yourself in the supermarket, at the bus stop and movie theater and drug store and park, than you are expressing the Apostle’s teaching to the watching world.

 

Jesus refined and simplified the law into a simple ethical trump card; Love. Reiterated here by Paul in: Romans 13:9-10 “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

To love your neighbor in one application of this verse, is to do no wrong but the other application is to do good for your neighbor. Love is not merely a passive absence of doing wrong; it’s the active presence of doing Good.

 

Your actions are a declaration of your union with Christ. So am I saying that’s it’s all about some external conformity to the law? Absolutely not. We have to love the standard, not merely conform to it. The Standard of the Law is an expression of God’s perfect Holiness. We are to love it and love what was required at Calvary so that we could obey the law in Christ. Don’t conform to an external standard. Love it. Learn it and get into your bones by prayer and diligent Study. Anything that you actively love ceases to be a hard duty and it becomes a delight.

 

Obeying the Law in Christ; which is expressing love, is doing something. The Gospels are stories about Jesus going from place to place getting into verbal scraps over doctrine, of organizing feasts, of healing the sick, freeing slaves, telling stories and initiating relationships with people. Jesus’ Faith is a busy Faith; a faith on the move. People ask what kind of man is this because Jesus’ actions show He thinks differently about mission, love, ethics, people, God and himself. Your actions are a declaration of your union with Christ.

 

Alexander Strauch said in  Love or Die: Christ’s Wake-up Call to the Church After his resurrection, Jesus confronted Peter, who had denied him three times. On the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asked Peter three times, “do you love me?” (John 21:15-17). Each time Peter affirmed his love for Christ: “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” After each of Peter’s public confessions of love, Jesus responded by charging Peter to care for his people: “Feed my lambs… tend my sheep… feed my sheep.” The proof of Peter’s profession of love and the reality of his love would be found in his practical obedience to Christ’s command to shepherd Christ’s people. As the book of Acts happily reports, Peter, enabled by the Holy Spirit, proved his profession of love for Christ by a life dedicated to caring for Christ’s flock. May our public profession of love for God and neighbor also be backed by the genuine practice of Christian love (Rom. 12:9-21).

 

When you are at a restaurant do the people see you wolfing down your food while your wife struggles to help the kids and she eats a cold meal? Do people see you flipping out over poor drivers? Have you ever taken a gift to your neighbors when they first move in, on their birthday or Christmas? Does the world witness you treating people with respect and honoring them as better than yourself?

 

Do your kids see you loving your wife, serving and honoring her in public or is she the ol’ ball and chain once she’s out of earshot? Do your co-workers wonder how you talk about them when you are not around because they hear how you talk about others in the workplace? Do your co-workers see you smiling at a person one minute and roll your eyes the minute they leave the room? Does the world see you submitting to your husband, your boss, honoring your parents and being content?

 

Your actions are a declaration of your union with Christ. Are you demonstrating whose man you are by your outward expressions, your livery of love?

Love is a Way of Speaking

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”