Posts Tagged ‘great commandment’

John 21:3
“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Here’s what I think: Simon Peter was impatient and uncomfortable with his new role. This mission stuff was foreign on his own. Besides, things were not happening the way they had before with Jesus. And where was Jesus? Why wasn’t He leading them? Why wasn’t He telling them what to do?

Like so many of us, Peter back-peddled. From his perspective, the mission mandate was not working out. So, he went back to what he really knew how to do: fish! In this arena, he was much more confident. This was what he had always done before. This was much more comfortable.

Only one problem: no fish!

When we are given a clear mandate from God and we actually hear it and understand it and head out in that direction … warning: going back doesn’t work.

I had a friend who felt a strong call to go to London (from Atlanta, Georgia) and work with the poor, particularly prostitutes and other street people. He obediently packed up his family and left. And the Lord blessed them. But into the second year, he became discouraged. And after several disappointments and dead ends, he and his family packed up again, returned to Atlanta and went back to the coffee shop business.

Only one problem: no coffee… no customers… etc.

Don’t get me wrong. God is merciful and full of grace. Even if we mess up and go back to fishing, God is there. But be prepared, once we willingly enter the Way of Jesus, He will continue to call us back to the path… one way or another. The old comfort zone will no longer be comfortable. The old way of doing things will no longer work. The old projects will fail. The old pew will be rough sitting.

“…no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.” [Luke 5:37]

Lord, give me courage to stay on the new path today.

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John 15:10
“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

Want to get someone’s hackles up? Just tell them to obey. This is a word/idea that is no longer popular in today’s culture, particularly in the West. Too bad, I think we’re missing the point.

Why do we balk? What does it take to obey? First of all, it takes a certain humility. To obey a person, we must have respect for that person. We must believe in that person’s authority to command. We must trust in the commander to command wisely.

In a family, we expect children to obey their parents… these elements would still apply: respect, authority, and trust. Once any one of these elements is missing, natural obedience breaks down. Then parents try to demand obedience. But what do we get: obedience from fear. It’s a type of obedience but it is layered with rebellion. In other words, there will be hedging whenever possible.

In fact, hedging is counter to obedience. Whether we want to hear this or not, obedience is pretty much black or white. We complain about our kids, but truthfully, we adults are doing this all the time… we break the speed limit, we make photocopies at work, we cheat (just a little) on our taxes, we abuse our bodies with too much food, drink, you name it, we tell only part of the story, and we listen to only part of the command. Basically, we analyze the commands in relation to what we personally want to do or not do.

In the end, obedience is a choice. Here’s the sad part of this story: the primary command that Jesus is laying out here is to “love others as he loved us.” Why are we still hedging on that one? We have to be commanded to love? Think about it.

I’m guessing, if we were to obey this one foundational command, a lot of other things (relationships, needs, desires, for example) would just fall into place. In the next sentence Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” It’s a command with a promise. I could use a little joy today. I can love today. I can choose to love.

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John 8:54b-55
“…My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word.”

I claim the Father as my God. I seek to know Him. But knowing God, the Father, is to keep his word. And there’s the rub.

If I could keep God’s word in my own power, I wouldn’t need a savior.

And when we talk about his word… what exactly do we mean? The 10 commandments? I’m dead in the water there. And what about the Great Commandment from Jesus (coined by Scot McKnight as the Jesus Creed) [Mark 12:29-31]:

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.

How are we doing on that one? Of course, in the end, the entire New Testament was written to help us work out what these two commandments mean and demand of us as followers of God, as disciples (students) in the way of Jesus.

I have no strength. I fail daily. I confess daily. I call on the grace of Christ Jesus. And that’s THE way.

Grace is the whole point. So now, whenever I see the phrase, “keep His Word,” I replace it with the truth, I “keep the Grace” and for that grace, I give thanks to Jesus who offers it freely.

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