Tag Archive for love

Loving Your Neighbor As Yourself

London RiotsThe Gospel Is The Best Riot Control

I have watched with some interest the riots that have been going on in England. It saddens me to see people hurt and policemen put in harms way. There is no excuse for violence of any kind, but I do understand where it comes from. It stems from a lack of love for ones neighbor that can only be generated by the application of the gospel. Where the gospel has dominion there is peace and where it is not there are riots like we see going on in London.

Im am not speaking of some kind of theocracy or heaven on earth when I refer to the gospel in this manner. I believe Jesus meant it when He said that, “my kingdom is not of this world.” What I am saying is that when the gospel takes root in hearts, it brings people together it does not divide and cause violence. This seems counter-intuitive to modern thinking because people have been conditioned to think that religion or “fundamentalism” causes bigotry, hatred, and violence. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. If modern western sensibilities founded on government education and psychological conditioning were the answer then why are Londoners rioting?

There will be many professors, doctors, and social scientists that will analyze what has happened in London for years to come and I’d be willing to bet that none of them will cite a lack of the gospel as the contributing factor. Be that as it may the scriptures are crystal clear:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

– Ephesians 2:13-16

The gospel is the best riot control I can think of.

We Are His Bride

Bride and FlowersWe Are The Bride Of Christ

If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior and forgive you of your sins, you are a part of the bride of Christ. This means something. This is significant. I’m not going to steal his thunder, but Pastor Scotty Smith captures the essence of this glorious truth in a prayer that he published on Justin Taylor’s blog. I post the prayer in its entirety for your encouragement:

As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. Isa. 62:5

Most holy and loving Jesus, we realize we’re not the primary focus, point or end of anything. We’re thrilled history is irrepressibly heading toward the glorious Day when your redeemed people and the restored creation will finally give you honor, praise, and glory you deserve. All things are being summed up in you, made new by you, and prepared for you. That day cannot come too soon.

That being said, it’s shocking to realize how much you love us—how much you actually make of us, Lord Jesus. Knowing you’ve forgiven all our sins is more than enough reason to praise you for eternity. Knowing you’ve covered us with your perfect righteousness is reason to praise you for ten eternities. But to see and believe you’ve made us your cherished Bride is staggering… thrilling… and ever so liberating. We’re not just going to heaven when we die, we’re entering a bridal chamber when you return.

How can this be, Lord Jesus? How can this possibly be? You’ve made us, a most unlikely and unworthy people, your bride, wife and queen for all eternity. This isn’t the story of Cinderella we’re in. There was nothing about us, or in us, that made us attractive to you. We’re the mean stepmother and the two conniving stepsisters—completely ill-deserving of your pursuit and affection. But such is the measure of your mercy and grandeur of your grace. You loved us in your death and now you serve us by your life.

One Day we’ll be radiant with your beauty and filled with your joy, Lord Jesus, for we’ll see you as you are and we will be made like you. Hasten that most longed for moment. But on that Day, our wedding day, your rejoicing won’t be any greater or your singing any louder than it is in this day. All of this is true because the gospel is true. We believe this, free us from our unbelief. So very Amen we pray, in your matchless name and endless affection.

HT: Justin Taylor

Everybody Needs A Hero

boy dressed as superheroIt Doesn’t Take A Great Deed To Make A Great Difference

I am somewhat of a daydreamer at heart. I suppose I came by this by being an avid reader at a very young age. I spent half my childhood on some battlefield defending hearth and home from the evil communists. Each battle always ended with me coming home to a heroes welcome with honors and medals a plenty. The problem with having such a fanciful imagination is that it can lead you to overlook the heroic in the mundane.

Very few of us will ever have the experience of saving the homeland on the battlefield, or pulling someone from a burning building. Yet despite the normalness that occupies most of our lives, there are great deeds awaiting us every day of our life if we have the vision to see them. This kind of heroism is actually harder because it results from very little reward or recognition.

As I write this post I think of a friend of mine who is pacing around his house trying to get his baby girl to fall asleep. To his baby girl and his wife he is as big a hero as spiderman, superman, and ironman all rolled into one. I am also thinking about a friend of mine who has traveled many miles to take care of her sick father. If I thought long enough I’m sure could name several more people who are big heroes but whose names you wouldn’t even recognize.

The world is full of heroes who go unnoticed by human eyes. There is great comfort however in knowing that even when men don’t notice, God does. Here what Jesus has to say on the subject:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.

– Matthew 25:35-40

So what quiet but heroic thing can you do for someone today? Whatever you have a mind to do, don’t hesitate. Remember, everybody needs a hero.

Now Thats Family

chained handsHow far are you willing to go to be family for your brothers and sisters in Christ?

I have made the case on this site that true gospel community means living as a family with your brothers and sisters in Christ. That sounds good in theory but what exactly does it mean in practice? I think a good place to answer that question is found in the book of Philemon.

The small letter of Philemon was written by the Apostle Paul to one of his converts in the town of Colossae. Philemon, the addressee and namesake for the book, was a wealthy believer who had several slaves who worked for him. One of these slaves was named Onesimus. Onesimus had apparently stolen some money from Philemon and fled his household eventually landing in the city of Rome. In the kind Providence of God, Onesimus ran into Paul who shared with him the gospel which led to his subsequent conversion. Paul then writes the letter to Philemon as a means of affecting reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus.

What is remarkable about this letter is how Paul uses the gospel to demonstrate how it radically redefines relationships. Consider the following:

I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother.

– Philemon 12 – 16a (emphasis mine)

Is there any doubt that Paul saw the relationship between Onesimus and Philemon radically different in the light of the gospel? Even though Onesimus would still be a slave, or at least and employee of Philemon, he should also be considered a brother.

This is not idle talk because Paul also demonstrated here what brothers do for one another. Look at these verses found a little later in the same passage:

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

– Philemon 17 – 20

Paul put his standing and his wallet on the line for Onesimus. His use of the word brother was not just talk because he backed it with his walk. This is the kind of family that the gospel makes. This is family.

How you been family like that to one of your brothers and sisters in Christ lately?