“Children… Your Children… My Children”

There is a cool progression between 1, 2, and 3 John.

In 1 John, he addresses little children (as well as young men and fathers), encouraging them in the faith.

In 2 John, he is speaking to the “elect lady and her children” and rejoices in the fact that some of her children walk in the truth.

In 3 John, there is no “some.” He simply finds joy in the fact that “my children” walk in the truth.

There is a building sense of ownership here, not in terms of possession, but rather of responsibility.

In the beginning, John speaks of children in the vague and general sense, routing them on in a scholarly fashion. Then, we see him draw nearer to them. They are you children, still holding some sentimental value but ultimately someone else’s problem. Then, finally they are wholly and fully his. Their well-being is his “greatest joy.”

It reminds me of Jesus’ final intimate encounter with Peter (John 21:15-19). Three times Jesus asks if Peter loves Him as He asks him to lead His church. Twice, Jesus uses the word agápē, an all-encompassing love, God’s love. Twice, Peter uses the word phileō, a friend or brother kind of love. Jesus changes His word to phileō, meeting Peter where he is at, and Peter responds in kind. Then, Jesus lets Peter know he will one day die for His church, just as Christ died. And indeed, Peter did die that way.

Peter’s love for Jesus ascends through time. He begins with acquaintance, then familiarity, then friendship, then deep affection, and finally love to the point of death. And his love for Jesus reflects his love for the church. John 15:13 tells us that if we love Jesus, we will love one another. 1 John 4:20 goes on to say that if we say we love Jesus but hate one another, then we are liars. We are commanded by our ever-loving father to love our fellow human being with the same love He has for us. They are our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. They are ours.

God once asked Esau, “where is your brother?” (Genesis 4:1-16) Esau answered, “am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer to that question is yes. Let us keep them well.

 

 

You Are Known By What You Do

Nowhere else in the Bible as works-based as the book of James is. For him, it is by our works that our redemption is validated. And James is not alone in this. If you look at the Old Testament, we see a very external relationship with the spiritual experience. Atonement is shown by the sacrifice of livestock. Grieving is shown by the tearing of fabric. Deals are brokered by the passing of sandals (true story). James just picks up where the Old Testament left off, for the Bible is a very Hebrew-centric manuscript and reflects their cultural experience.

Where people get confused is they come to the conclusion that it is fact our works that saved us, that it is by a series of merit badges or brownie points that we are saved. This creates a sense of guilt for those who feel they have not done enough and a sense of pride in those who feel they have checked all the appropriate boxes. In the Gospels, Christ is quick to dispel both feelings. He goes to the outcast, even the criminal moments from death, and says, I am enough. To the self-righteous, He urges to drop the charade and come follow Him. We are not the authors of our salvation, even our own faith. All of it is a gift.

If it is a gift, then what is works? Works are the fruits of our salvation. Out of our love for  Christ and for others, we do good works. Out of the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we venture out of our comfort zone to perform miracles. You can “like” and “love” as many posts as you want, but still there comes a time when we are called to show our love in a real sense, to give of ourselves either in time or treasure or ability, as a physical manifestation of our spoken claims.

Always be listening for these opportunities, for they are often small and pass quickly, but partaking in them makes a world of difference. So today, keep your eyes, heart, body, and soul open. You may just have the opportunity to change a life and let them know they truly matter and that your affections are real.

Bless and be a blessing. Amen.

The One, The Only You

I love you

the way you talk and the way you move

your curves and the work of your hands

I love that I am yours

and you are mine

and that we are in this thing together

You are more than at my side

You ARE my side

and that’s Biblical

My Eve, mother of all that is good

in me

I love you I love you I love you

My darling, the one the only you

Thank you for choosing me

as I have chosen you

today tomorrow and always

Yours

True Romance

True romance is found in pajamas,

sitting around reading a book,

and talking at tea shops

until the words run out.

 

True romance is day-long outings

to places you have never been before,

to explore something at a whim.

They’re in compliments over dinner

and simply holding hands while walking down the street.

 

True romance is found is the quiet running of errands

the conscious choice to spent time together,

being engaging,

laughing, listening, being a sounding board

to the day’s (mis)adventures.

 

True romance is found outside of solutions

when drama is spilled forth,

in the simple words “that stinks” and “I’m sorry.”

 

It’s helping out someone in need,

a friend, a family member, some guy on the street.

It’s cheering your partner on as they pursue their dreams,

and calling them out when they go astray.

 

It’s forgiving and being forgiven.

It’s serving God together

and hanging out with mutual friends.

 

It’s a hug. It’s a touch. It’s a smile.

It’s all the little things, as fluttery as a butterfly

caught up in the wind.