John 1:6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 , who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. NLT
I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have more clearly seen the “Light.” I really can’t even understand it myself. As odd as it is to write these words in the midst of grief over my husbands death, I feel the power of love, life, and thankfulness and light more completely than ever before.
This is my important testimony to you: The Light that has broken through the darkness of grief reminds me the “birth that comes from God” does so much more than overcome the darkness of death. You can depend on Jesus’s promise to give light to every circumstance of life…even death…so you can be comforted to continue.
NIV EPH 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
No one would dispute our world is desperately in need of peace and unity, right? Maybe the problem is we’re not taking Scripture at it’s word. Let’s try that! It’s so much easier said than done, though, because peace and unity requires being…
– Humble: a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.
– Gentle: showing a mild, kind, or tender temperament or character.
– Patient: tolerate delays, problems, suffering without being annoyed or anxious.
– Bearing: a determination of position
Those qualities are a difficult reminder of their specific purpose; to point us to the need of a position to attach them to – “bearing with one another in love.”
Of course, I believe those things are a necessary part of peace and unity. Of course, I want those qualities and the love to go with them. Unfortunately there’s another “of course.” Of course, peace and unity wouldn’t be nearly as hard if everyone would just agree with me.
More than ever before I realize that humility, gentleness, and patience are clearly elusive parts of love that sometimes slow my journey of faith. If that is truth, then the original meanings of peace and unity are worth exploring.
– Eirēnēs, translated peace means joining what’s been separated to make one again
– Henotēta, translated unity means oneness and/or in unison
My conclusion is this: The “unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” is like a two-way street all of us have to travel. Peace and unity are not dependent on which side of the road you’re on. “Humble, gentle, patient and bearing” are the necessary speed bumps of faith that slow us down so we pay attention to these absolute truths: “There is one body and one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” That one-ness can rejoin what has been separated and get us over all the speed bumps “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Read Ephesians 4 as a word-for-word translation
Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. [NIV]
[b] in his sight in love. 5 He
A period [.], called a full stop in British English, is one of the first punctuation marks we learn about when we begin reading and writing. It’s a [point] used at the end of a statement. Very rarely when we read are they of any notice because they’re so common. In this case it was the repositioning of that period that caused me to do a “full stop” and ask myself this question; whose love? His or ours?
The answer of course is both. The relationship between the Sovereign God and us is certainly meant to be one of love and that is the [point] of this footnote [b]. The first iteration was God’s choice: “in his sight[.] In love 5 he” makes it clear God was operating toward us in love. What intrigued me was reading that same sentence with the footnote in place; “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless “in his sight in love[.] 5 He”
There are two clear truths in this short passage: He chose us in love to be holy and blameless[.] AND He chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight in love[.] The human authors and editors of the Bible have been inspired to use that footnote to preserve the fullness of God’s absolute truth. Our heart’s response is to stand “in his sight in love” only because “In love” He has chosen us “to be holy and blameless in his sight[.] Full Stop
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. NIV
There are two words that are the mystery of God we all deal with in our feeble attempts to understand what is humanly unknowable. I call them flashpoint words – preordained and predestination. Neither of them is in this passage but as I read they are what came to my mind. The word “orchestrating” is how I deal with them as part of the natural system put into place during, and even before, the time of creation that includes “everything” I do know. God is in control. God is ever-present. God knows all things.
“Orchestrating” is more than those two flashpoint words. They are only a mysterious part of the music of the Sovereignty of God. Imagine God as the composer and conductor directing each of these parts of His symphony of faith. The music begins with the conductor. You want to see faith? Let me bring in goodness… Now in the flow of His personal arrangement for His creation each of those lovely parts is brought in to enhance the music of life. Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness and mutual affection are added at just the right moment as the overall music swells to the beautiful conclusion that explains everything God pre-ordained and predestined as He composed His symphony – LOVE.
1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. NIV
Be alert and watchful, of sober mind and spirit. The devil is not an adversary content with luring you into sin but one who is intent on your complete destruction. All my children are united in this struggle at this time of suffering…but I am the God of all grace who has called you beyond death to eternal glory with me. I’ve given you faith to make you strong beyond your own ability to stand firm and resist. I myself will support and strengthen you and make it happen. Stay in toucha.
a A composite of ESV, NIV, NLT and NASB versions
Wondering IF you should wear a mask when you go out?
John 15:19 ESV If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
The capacity of human nature to zero in on being loved is what makes “fitting in” to the world such a tempting option. Jesus warns us “fitting in” to the world is not a reliable indicator of love. We’ve just celebrated the birth of Jesus as the promised revelation of God’s love for us. Jesus is the pivot point for our world. Pivot points are basically a choice, an intersection [a cross?], that determines direction.
That promise is the mystery Jesus reminds us of with these words; “I chose you out of the world.” The fact is this world is God’s own choice for us. The mystery is solved by this: While we are chosen “out of the world” we still have to live our life IN it. Learning to live IN the world as visible evidence of that Pivot Point is what completely changes our understanding of God’s love and our interaction with the world too.
John 15:17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another
John 15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I ended my last post, Love Story, with this statement “His [Jesus] own future on earth began with His willingness to trust that the humanity He entered would become a part of building His life on earth so that His love would become their salvation.” That reality of Advent explains John 15:13 too. But wait, there’s more to the story.
Culturally those connections are of great interest today. We’ve “discovered” DNA [a self-replicating material present that’s the carrier of genetic information] that confirms connections that have been lost in our lives. I know because it’s happened to me both on a real life level and spiritually. Jesus entered a world He’d been part of creating. In that long ago moment He surrendered His place of intimacy with God to choose companionship with humanity in the flesh. The cradle was where Jesus willingly laid down His own sovereign authority to become the “perfect” rebirth of God’s genetic connection with mankind for the second time. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Jesus’s birth is our annual reminder that same redemptive DNA has been replicated in each of us. Within us lies the power of Jesus to transform and save those who will abide with Him.
John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in [accept and act in accordance with] my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. [NRSV]
This year my Advent posts are going to be like one of those mystery TV shows that begin with the solution and then proceeds to lay out the evidence. My advent begins with the assumption verse 10 is the solution. I plan to continue searching verse-by-verse for evidence that reveals why Jesus Christ deserves the repeated annual observation we call Advent. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find. We have this book of His-tory and John is the recognized expert on Christology [Christian theology relating to the person, nature, and role of Christ]. Expert witness testimony is an important part of the solution to every mystery.
What are the commandments Jesus is referring to? There’s a long list you can find with an internet search but John 13:34 has recorded this from my first witness, Christ himself; “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
My second expert today is the Apostle Paul with evidence that supports Jesus’s new commandment. “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4
There’s more than beauty to the Advent story that makes it important. God provided a solution to the mystery of life in that cradle that could remind us every year He offers so much more than what we know to expect. Jesus is the reality of our salvation, growth and “abiding” in His and God’s love. My third witness today is John Piper from Come Thou Unexpected Jesus: “Jesus was long expected. But when and how and where and why he came were all unexpected…He did not come to meet [our] expectations but to love [us] in the ways [we] most desperately needed…[that’s] the place [we] are most likely to really adore him.” [edited]