Monday, January 15, 2018

God’s Creative Kiss

John 1:14 (GNT): God’s Creative Kiss

The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father's only Son.
My niece had her birthday party at Build-a-Bear Workshop. And as I escorted my seven-year-old daughter through the different stages of building her new stuffed dog, I was moved at the “heart ceremony.” 

In the “heart ceremony,” the child has an opportunity to “create” the loving heart of their stuffed companion, and I could not help but parallel this to what God has done to each of us in our creation. As my daughter held the small plastic heart, the staff member directed her to kiss it so that her new creation would always know of her love. 

We, too, as God’s creation have been kissed. For God loved us into being so that we would always know and be drawn to his love. But because of sin, we too often forget that kiss. And in order to remind us of his heart’s kiss, God himself became one of us, gave up his divine dwelling and tabernacled among humanity. Jesus Christ lived among the apostles, taught, loved, welcomed, forgave, and gave himself up as reminder of his heart’s kiss. Then, Jesus was raised from the dead to remind us of his love and our own eternal life in him. Let us always remember that the heart we have was kissed by our Creator so that we would always love him, serve him, and be with him in eternity. 

I pray that we all experience the loving kiss of God and radiate that love to all we encounter. 

Have a blessed week!


Stan

Monday, January 8, 2018

Knowing our Mission for Christ


John 13:34-35 (GNT): Knowing our Mission for Christ
And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.
Navigating the Christian life can be baffling. We are all called to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to others, but in a secular culture this can seem impossible.
Over the weekend, I had a conversation with a neighbor about this same topic: How do we witness to others in a world that disallows it in most contexts? We can’t, for instance, just open the New Testament at our job site and start preaching. Instead, Jesus provides clear instructions on how we, as his disciples, should always witness to others. The answer is simple: Our love is Jesus’ best witness. For Jesus reminds his disciples of this in the above passage: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” But the expression of such is problematic.
As humans, we struggle loving those who pose difficulty in our lives. Think of the times when someone poses a threat to our community, family, or person. What about the criminals of the world or our own personal “enemies”? More practically, consider that family member who rigidly opposes everything we say or do and gives us offense every time we offer peace. Our lives are full of instances where loving the other is problematic. And left to our own strength and will, we often fail. But there is a better way.
Love is a gift of grace from God. However, we have to be willing to channel his grace, to pray for his guidance, to put aside our will for his. Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35 address a hard-headed group of disciples who often fail. Peter, for instance, denies Jesus three times. We are no different. Love is complicated, never easy, and requires our cooperation with grace. In our attempts to love, we will succeed and fail. But our failures are always ours, not God’s. God, however, picks us up every time, forgives, and never stops loving us.
Our Christian witness to the world is to love others, even when it seems impossible. We do the best we can and God provides the rest. And remember what Jesus says to his disciples when they doubt if anyone can be saved: “Jesus looked straight at them and answered, ‘This is impossible for human beings, but for God everything is possible’” (Matthew 19:26).
I pray that our love be the convicting evidence of our Christian faith.
Have a blessed week!
Stan