My love for you is enduring
My emotions you do enslave
For you, your mark have left upon me
On my heart engraved
My love for you is enduring
My emotions you do enslave
For you, your mark have left upon me
On my heart engraved
Love is always seeking the best
Not for yourself, but for all the rest
It is kind and patient, willing to forgive
Always prepared second chances to give
It flows from a spirit that is with God in touch
Remembering that He loved and forgave us so much
Love is in the end not about what we can get
But more about giving to all we’ve met
Pastor Vince gave an inspiring yet challenging message drawn from Romans 13 and I Corinthians 13 which serve as the theme of this post.
The rabbis tell us there are 613 commandments in the Torah. These include 365 “Don’ts” and 248 “dos.” There can be roughly categorised and summed up in the Ten Commandments of Sinai.
Exodus 20 :
1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
This list can be divided in a few ways, but it is generally accepted that the first four pertain to our relationship with God, and the remaining six with our relationship with other people. An interesting alternative view is that the fifth is a transitional command, as it can apply to our relationship with “the Father” or authority in general terms. This view then notes that the tenth is a consolidating command for the fifth through ninth commandments as if you do not covet possessions, you want be tempted to steal, or not coveting a neighbour’s spouse will remove the temptation to adultery, etc.
This division of the commands into “divine” and “human” is seen in Jesus’ further consolidation of the expectations. In Matthew 22, Jesus says the following about the greatest commandment of the law:
Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Here we see the “God – Man” divide again. Jesus is presenting the words of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6: 4-5) as the greatest command. The loving here is the Hebrew term “Ahavah” which means affection, but more than that was well. It unlike the Greek “love” which has many forms – agape, philos, etc., it can encompass all of them much as our English word “love” does. Our love of God is built on in Deuteronomy 10 where we are told it involves walking with Him, serving Him, and keeping His commands (see how this comes full circle). We can also deduce that we owe these “loves” to our fellows as well.
This obligation of Love of God and of man is recurrent in the New Testament. First Corinthians 13 tells us that of all the gifts we can receive from God, love is the greatest. Paul notes:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
He further notes that when all else passes away – love will endure.
John then takes this command or obligation to love, and very nicely:
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
So we complete our journey – 613 commands to 10. The 10 to two. The two the a central word: Love.
Let’s do as we are commanded.
Blessed time of loving communion
A mere trinket
A small little charm
But the love that was linked to it
Could easily disarm
Any doubts of his loyalty
Any perceived mal-intent
For though not all that valuable
True devotion was clearly meant
It was a love charm
Though it looked like many another
But this one was unique
For in it his whole heart he did offer
Padre (and Feileacan)
It doesn’t matter how my day has been
What ups and downs – outs and ins
Hectic, crazy, or even full of pain
Your smiling eyes make me whole again
Little expressions – so love filled
How can I not by them be healed
Your smiling eyes they make me whole
And I will ever your love extol
With an empty hole within my life
I am complete again with you as my wife
Your presence has removed my pain
And allowed my to live my life again
You have found me in desparate need
And place in me again love’s seed
Thank you for coming to my side
And with me from now on now abide
Gracefully, you float in the sunlight’s beam
Vivid hues of brightness against the garden’s green
How is it that you ride on air?
And land so lightly, as if not even there?
You visit briefly amid your to and through
Our encounters all too brief before you must needs go
But even in brevity they mean all to me
And make me long for you again to see
I anxious await for some future day
When you from your labours and travels
Oh my Butterfly, will return to stay
Last week Pastor Vince spoke to us about the need to be authentic. In that message he said he was going to use a text, not to make a theological exposition but as a jumping off point. I will start off the same, before moving on to some expository. Yes, I am a theologian.
As such I am going to scratch the surface of a technique known as systematic theology which formulates an orderly, and rational account of the doctrines of the Christian faith. I will take topics that Pastor Vince has addressed recently and arrange them as steppingstones, or a path we can take a step at a time to get to our destination.
A few weeks ago, Vince noted that Praise not only glorifies God, but can left us like an eagle’s wings. So here is my first foundation stone in tying to days message together. Praise and worship are in our present age opened, like the tearing of the curtain in the temple. The Holy of Holies is open to us because Christ has torn the barriers to approaching God down.
Vince in the past has told us about the structure and importance of the Tabernacle and later Temple. As you approached that place of worship and praise, note we have the approach theme again, you would go from the mundane world to a sacred space, arriving eventually to the Most Holy Place.
During the period of the Babylonian Captivity, worship, prayer, and praise began to be made in the synagogue as the Temple had been destroyed and the people dispersed. When the Second Temple was built this new synagogue, system continued to operate along side of it as we see in the Gospels.
Not only this but structure of the Second Temple was extended from the Tabernacle plan to include an outer court sometimes called The Court of the Gentiles. It was open to non-Jews, though they could approach no closer to that to the Holy Places. But they were allowed in!
The synagogue too had a similar design, but in modern synagogues the holy place is replaced with the Ark where the Scriptures rest. These are brought out onto a platform called the Bimah where they are read aloud. The congregation sits facing this platform.
Look at Luke 4:
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.
So, what does that have to do with being authentic?
As Pastor Vince noted last week, authentic faith – loves and serves.
Our praise may help us soar like eagles, but never at the cost to others.
Hebrews 13:1 tells us, “Let brotherly love continue.” First John 4: 7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not doesn’t know God; for God is love.”
In what is often called the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus makes it clear. Note some of the parallels from the passage we just looked at in Luke 4. “When I was hungry, when I was naked, in prison, etc.”
Authenticity is not about us soaring, it is about lifting others.
This authentic love was something Jesus had to teach. You may not know this but in the culture of Jesus’ times there was a belief that honour was a finite resource like gold or diamonds. If I had it, you didn’t. I kept it by keeping you down.
Vince spoke about humility, and what authentic humility is like. But this was a hard sell in Jesus’ day. This makes the Sermon on the Mount even more profound with the Meek, and Humble being praised.
Luke 16:19-31 gives us the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Their lives are contrasted, as are their deaths. Notice that even in Hell the rich man doesn’t change his attitude of superiority. “Send Lazarus to me.” “Send Lazarus to my brothers.”
Paul’s letter to Philemon is a wonderful study in authenticity. It shows Paul giving authentic and loving praise, It makes an example of authentic humility, and it shows not coercion as some have suggested, but rather Paul’s call on Philemon to realistically see things are the really are. Systematic theology at its best.
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Philemon needs to extend himself. He needs authentic humility to get past any perceived wrongs. He needs to show love, and unconditional love that frees captives, and restores relationships. He needs to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and help fulfil the promise of the prophesy found in Luke Chapter 4.
Paul one step at a time calls for authenticity, and I have one step at a time taken three of Vince’s themes and presented them to you. Let’s be real together.
There is that which divides us
Creating wedges and space
That make us distrustful
Of things like class or race
Yet there is more – which us does link:
Love and compassion
Music, and good food and drink
Smoothing the edges
Reconciling our mood
And when we look at this globe
From afar in the air
We are but a race human
As a common existence we share