“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.

 

 

Paul, Apollos, and Peter: A Note about Favoritism

So Paul runs into an interesting problem in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3). We are a tribal people and the church there has started forming tribes around their favorite speaker. Some prefer Apollos, some prefer Peter, some prefer Paul. It gets so bad that the church starts to splinter.

Sometimes a speaker will fuel the fire of division, insisting that is or her approach is the best approach, the real way to get into Christ. Other times, the division will appear on its own and nobody stops it, so it only gets worse.

Paul does not let this division occur. He commends his fellow speakers. He reminds the church that they are all after the same thing: the edification of the church and the worship of Jesus Christ.

Granted, it is only natural to have people you connect with more than others. God chose Israel as the nation He would show His power through. Jesus chose three disciples to do ministry with, and of those twelve He chose three (Peter, James, and John) to deliver special revelation to. I’m sure you have your core group of friends as well.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having people you are specially close with, either in a occupational or personal setting. However, the breakdown occurs when that bond closes doors to others.

Jesus was quick to welcome in followers the disciples pushed away. Paul was intentional about turning all glory away from himself and back to God.

In the end, we are all family.

Cheesy as it is, the song is right, “make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.”

Solomon Christens the Temple

In 2 Chronicles 6, Solomon christens the temple. After all the hard work, the generations that have passed, finally the temple is built. Solomon takes the moment to pray, and what a prayer at that!

When we are strangers in a strange land, when we are defeated, when we are sick or starving, when we are riddled with guilt and shame Solomon asks God that we might be able to turn to the temple and be healed. When we lay ourselves at His feet, Solomon asks that mercy and grace be poured down upon us. No matter who we are. No matter where we are. Look to the throne room of God and be healed.

Like Moses and the snake (Numbers 21:8). Like Christ on the cross. We look to God, recognize what He has done for us, and God meets us in that place. What a blessing to receive!

God, hear us now, this silly and wandering bunch. Receive us into Your open arms. We are ever loved and ever cherished by You. We’re coming home. Get the welcome mat ready!

Your First Love

I have a nasty habit of getting really busy. I can do a billion things, but neglect even ignore those I love and love me. In Revelation 2:4, God reminds us that there are times where we do many good things but forget our first love. Let us return to them now. And let us also return to God, who “while we were still sinners, died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Thank You

Today I am born

and reborn

Thanks to so many people

and the God who made me

Thank you Jesus for salvation

Thank you Spirit for inspiration

Thank you family for a forever home

Thank you friends for never leaving me alone

Thank you life

for your boundless wonder

Thank you sky

for that starry veil I’m under

Thank you sleep

for reviving me

Thank you wake

for entertaining me

Every breath I take, every step

is a gift

Thank you thank you thank you

for all of it.

All Saints’ Day

The saints

the miracles

the legends

the sufferings

the tortures

the blood

and the glory.

Contemplating the servants of the Divine

the rich history

gives you a greater appreciation,

a holy community

to draw from when you feel alone

and powerless

and ineffectual.

Verily you carry the seed of these heroes past!

Live in light of that ineffable truth.