Posts Tagged ‘grace

23
Oct
21

The Inexhaustible Supply Chain

Our new couch is finally HERE! 

Hip Hip HOORAY!

Last week Joan and I were finally able to get rid of that old couch – the one that was meant for a MUCH larger living room – so that we could engage in a little “furniture right-sizing.” 

And it only took EIGHT MONTHS. 

That’s right. We originally ordered our couch in early February 2021. And it finally arrived earlier this month… you know, the month named “October.”

First there was the infamous world-wide FOAM shortage. You remember that one, right? It was when workers in the foam rubber industry all decided to bounce at the same time. (Get it? Bounce?)

After the foam crisis, the world was suddenly gripped by the sky-rocketing price of lumber. I’m sure they could have gone ahead and produced our couch as planned, but they would have had to triple the asking price and then listen to our wretched hue and cry.

Once the rubber and lumber crises settled down, of course, the world’s supply of everything was stuck 20-deep on container ships in the Port of Los Angeles harbor, waiting to unload. First there weren’t enough longshoremen (longshorepersons?). Then all truck drivers decided to leave the profession on the same day. 

After that, I’m not sure what happened. But whatever it was, it was serious enough to keep the new Brown family couch jammed up in Delivery Limbo until just last week.

Please understand… I am not trying to trivialize the global supply-chain constipation problem the world is currently facing. Waiting eight months for a couch was an inconvenience, but incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things. Lots of people are dealing with much worse difficulties than living with a couch that is too big for their living room. 

In the midst of it all, I discovered that our trifling encounter with the Supply Chain Soap Opera of 2021 DID provide several teachable moments.

First, it was yet another reminder of the incredible interconnectedness of human life on Planet Earth. We often – particularly those of us living in the U.S. of A. – like to think of ourselves as independent, autonomous, utterly self-sufficient organisms, needing no one and no thing to thrive. And yet, the reality is that LIFE is connected to LIFE. I depend on YOU, and YOU depend on me for a whole host of things. 

Actually, it is the way God drew it up. Back there at the Beginning of All Things, God created all of us and said, “Relationship! Hey, y’all! It’s all about RELATIONSHIP! You humans – created in my image, after all – will not be full, complete beings unless you find ways to regularly, compassionately, and deeply CONNECT with one another. In fact, when you depend on ME and EACH OTHER, you will live life as I intend you to.”

Did it take a complete meltdown of the U.S. supply chain to wake us up to the reality of our interconnectedness? Maybe not. Maybe we can just call it an unforeseen byproduct.

This eight-month delivery time also helped me realize that while couches, semi-conductors, soccer balls, food processors, lawn mowers, and playing cards might all be in short supply these days, there is one vital commodity the world will never run out of: 

We will never, CAN never exhaust God’s supply of love and grace. That’s because the “supply chain” that produces it never runs dry, never clogs up, never constricts, never contracts. In the history of the world, there has never been a strike in God’s grace factory.

You might say, in fact, that the more grace we “consume,” the greater the supply. 

And the price – unlike that of our new couch – is always right. The bill has been marked “Paid in Full by Jesus.”

HALLELUJAH!

Abundant blessings;

27
Jul
21

Particles of Wonder

Last weekend Joan and I went to the mountains.

It was glorious. It was majestic. It was beautiful. It was awe-inspiring.

It was a breath-taking reminder of the splendor of God’s creation. It drove me to my knees in a grateful prayer of thanksgiving and humility, reminding me of my smallness and God’s greatness.

Then this weekend we went to the Oregon coast.

It was glorious. It was majestic. It was beautiful. It was awe-inspiring.

It was a breath-taking reminder of the splendor of God’s creation. It drove me to my knees in a grateful prayer of thanksgiving and humility, reminding me of my smallness and God’s greatness.

Earlier this month, American billionaires went into space.

When they got back, they said the experience was glorious… majestic… beautiful… awe-inspiring. I suspect the experience also provided them with a vivid reminder of God’s creative genius and majesty and the smallness of human beings, though I did not hear that sentiment spoken out loud.

And of course, all of that is true. God’s creation reveals awe, majesty, splendor, and wonder. Paul makes this exact point in his letter to the Romans when he says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” (Romans 1:20, NRSV). 

My Love!

The Psalmist somehow finds the right words to say the same thing in the 8th Psalm: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4, NRSV).

 As true as all of that might be, all that praise and palaver misses a central, glaring truth. And that truth is this: we don’t need to go to the mountains, or to the ocean, or to the limits of space to find grandeur or reminders of God’s creative genius.

All of that resides right there in the eyes of the person sitting across the table from you.

Awe is there too, coursing through the veins of that Starbucks barista, that bus driver, that TSA worker, that preschool teacher, that landscaper, and that barber you visit every fourth week.

I would venture to say that there is just as much mystery, splendor, majesty, and sheer amazingness inside the skin of your brother or sister as you can see at the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Easily.

And so, with that in mind, I offer this prayer: “Lord, today I pray that you would remind me of the on-going miracle of the universe you have created. Help me never gloss over the grandeur that can be found in every single particle of your Creation… especially the people-shaped particles.”

AMEN

Abundant blessings;

25
Jul
21

It’s a Blunder-ful Life

The website Dictionary.com defines a blunder as, “… a gross, stupid, or careless mistake.”

Blunders are errors that reside multiple levels above missteps like, say, putting the pasta away on the baking shelf, or calling John Jim, or taking a sip of your wife’s iced tea instead of your own.

Oh, if only it were that simple.

For me, a blunder is what you call it when your screw-up meets three different criteria; first, it was the wrong thing to do. Second, it could – by taking a minute to stop and think – have been avoided. And third, it caused some kind of not-insignificant damage… either to the blunderer him/herself, or to an innocent bystander. 

Looking back on my life, I can recount errors, mistakes, faux pas, and goof-ups aplenty.

But sadly, also littered across the landscape of my 69 years, are multiple blunders

Let me tell you about one of my most recent. 

It happened earlier this year, when Joan and I were visiting my eldest son, DIL, and their five kids. The nine of us assembled in Houston, preparing to head to a lovely beach house on Galveston Island for the Easter weekend. 

Before heading to the beach, son, two youngest grandsons, and I headed over to the park for some playful time-wasting. The two kids headed immediately to the swing set where they met a friend… the son of my son’s co-worker. 

The game that ensued between the kids was the ever-popular, “Who Can Swing the Highest and Then Jump the Furthest Off the Swing.” At first, the dads were just refereeing the competition by drawing lines in the mulch pit to mark where each kid landed. Then the dads decided to get involved, rudely shoving their children aside, growling, “My turn, junior!”

(They didn’t really do that, but it sounds funnier when I say that…)

Seeing all the fun the dads (my son) and their kids (my grandson) were having, I decided it was time for Grandpa to give it a go. 

As it turned out, that was a really bad idea. 

I mounted the swing and began my ascent. I pumped my legs and got the swing up as high as I could. Once up there in the stratosphere, I realized this was going to be a lot more difficult than either the six- or the 40-year-olds made it look. 

Closing my eyes and hoping for the best, I bailed out at the exact apogee of my next upward swing. Finally airborne, I immediately felt a sharp pain in my right pinkie finger and began twisting in that direction. I landed on my left side with a resounding thud eighteen inches from my takeoff point. Looking down I saw that my right pinkie finger had apparently become tangled in the swing chain and was now bleeding profusely. 

Of course, the dads and kids all rushed over, visibly concerned and asking, “Are you alright? Are you alright?” 

“Well, I think I might lose this fingernail, but otherwise, I think I’m OK,” I replied, no small amount of embarrassment blood rising to fill my cheeks.

Thankfully, the fingernail survived, though dignity and self-esteem took a serious beating that day. Joan got me a bandage to staunch the bleeding, but did not seem terribly sympathetic to my plight. 

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is other than, “Act your age,” or “Think before you act,” or maybe just “Don’t do it, Grandpa. Just don’t.”

The reality is: we all commit blunders. Sometimes the consequences are big. Sometimes they are small. Sometimes we learn from our blunders. Sometimes we just keep on blundering, unenlightened. 

The point is as much as we try, none of us will live a blunder-free life. Hopefully the blunders will be fewer and further between as we (gracefully) age. 

As King Solomon tells us in the book of Proverbs: “I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw…” 
(Proverbs 24:32, NRSV).

Abundant blessings;

21
Jan
21

My Prepared Self

As we sat yesterday watching the inauguration speech of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., 46th president of the United States, Joan leaned over and asked me, “Is he reading from a teleprompter?”

It sure didn’t look like it. Uncle Joe, as I like to call him, was looking straight into the camera, making piercing eye contact with everyone who tuned in, including Joan and me. His words were direct… heartfelt.

“Pretty sure he is,” I replied. “They all do in situations like this.” 

As I thought a little more about it, I realized there was a question behind Joan’s question. I think what she wanted to know was, “Does he really mean what he is saying?”

If you watched any of the Inauguration proceedings, you know there were stirring words aplenty… from the signed-and-spoken Pledge of Allegiance, to the oaths of office, to the acceptance speeches, to the soaring, magical, heart-stirring poetry of young Amanda Gorman. 

And the same question – I suppose – can be asked of each: “Do they really mean what they are saying?”

What we saw yesterday were the PREPARED versions of each of those people… their very best selves on display. Each one of their words had been carefully crafted. Their clothes and grooming meticulously assembled. Their postures and gestures all a matter of intense forethought.

Nothing left to chance.

That caused me to think: wouldn’t it be awesome if the people around us were only able to see the PREPARED versions of each of us? 

I mean, what would it be like to speak to people as if carefully scripted, reading from an unseen teleprompter… reacting perfectly to the questions and events we encountered throughout our day? 

What if NOTHING ever took us by surprise or made us stammer and hem and haw or bumble awkwardly the way I (often) do? What if there was ZERO degrees of separation between my PREPARED self and my IN-THE-MOMENT self?

Wouldn’t the world be a much better place? 

I think the sharp-eyed observers among you already know the answer to that question.

While there might be a whole lot less friction in a world populated by impeccable automatons, there would be absolutely zero need for GRACE.

You and I would never have to exercise our forgiveness muscles, realizing that our neighbor’s silly gaffe (“I’m sure he meant it as a compliment, sweetie!”) was neither intentional nor malicious. 

We wouldn’t ever need to periodically stop and look into our own hearts and assess whether we just now acted out of spite, resentment, jealousy, prejudice, or plain old garden variety stupidity. 

And we would certainly never experience the need to humble ourselves before God, go to our knees, and ask God to – in the words of King David – “Create in me a clean heart… and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10, NRSV). 

No, as alluring as that “polished, prepared” vision might be, I think there is a really good reason God only lets us see the rough drafts of one another. 

The words of that old hymn by George Beverly Shea says it best:

“Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bidd’st me come to thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”

Or, in the words of Colossians 3:13, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Abundant blessings;

07
Jan
21

Lord, in your mercy…

… hear our prayer.

  • Hear our prayer for humility in the face of chaos and confusion.
  • Hear our prayer for justice, administered without regard for place or privilege.
  • Hear our prayer for softened hearts and willing hands.
  • Hear our prayer for vital, life-giving connections between all of your people, recognizing common bonds of humanity.
  • Hear our prayer for the resiliency of hope in the middle of dark times.
  • Hear our prayer for a new willingness to listen deeply to voices other than our own, and those who echo us.
  • Hear our prayer for the relief of the physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual suffering of brothers and sisters around the world.
  • Hear our prayer for a supernatural infusion of wisdom into those we have appointed to govern over the unremarkable affairs of our lives.
  • Hear our prayer for new courage to do your will… even in the face of opposition and hardship. 
  • Hear our prayer that the sharp edges of power might be hammered into the productive edges of plowshares.
  • Hear our prayer for gentle rains and warm sunshine to nurture the fragile, green shoots of new life bursting forth all around us. 
  • Hear our prayer for the birth of a new world, reshaped into the image you intended at the Dawn of Creation.

In your name and in the name of your incarnate son, Jesus Christ, we pray…

AMEN

26
Dec
20

An Unfinished Christmas

I may have mentioned this before (apologies to you if this is old, stale news), but Joan and I are in the middle of a giant remodel in our home.

Shortly after moving in to this house, we decided to flip the locations of the kitchen and the dining room. And just for fun, we decided to throw in a living room fireplace replacement project at the same time.

Yes indeed, we are the kind of wacky, carefree scalawags who get our jollies from doing that sort of stuff.

We started planning the project in the spring, just after the onset of COVID-19. Allowing for a little extra time for delays and setbacks, we conservatively estimated it would be finished by Labor Day… and then Thanksgiving… and then Christmas. 

As you can see from these photos, it is almost, but not quite, finished, here on December 26, 2020. 

Having no kitchen for the last three months has been something a struggle for both of us, but especially so for Joan. True to her Italian heritage, she is most at home in her kitchen, cooking up big servings of love for friends and family. 

When the goal of cooking Thanksgiving dinner in the new kitchen died a reluctant death, all eyes turned instead to a lavish Christmas feast. “Sure… you’ll have a functional kitchen by Christmas,” our contractor told us. 

“Functional,” we noted, is not the same as “finished.” And that is exactly what we got when he knocked off for the weekend early Tuesday afternoon. 

Undaunted, we set the dining room table back up, pushed the wet/dry industrial vac into the corner and started COOKING and DECORATING!! And you know what? It actually worked out pretty well.

We nicknamed 2020, “the unfinished Christmas.” And when you stop and think about it, in a way, God could have given the very first Christmas the same name.

Yes, God came to earth in human form, just as the biblical Christmas story tells us. God’s purpose in making this Cosmic House Call was to – as we were told in Matthew’s gospel, “… save his people from their sins.”(Matthew 1:21, NRSV). 

SAVIOR. That is who Jesus is. That is what his name means. In Jesus, God provided a doorway that humanity had never had access to before… a doorway from sin and death to life and peace. 

And yet despite that gift… despite that doorway… God’s saving work is unfinished until we do our part. 

The life-saving rope can be perfectly thrown to the drowning man; but until the drowning man reaches out and grabs that rope, he is not saved. 

God came to live among us… to live as one of us… to throw us the life-saving rope of God’s love and grace. But the work of Christmas remains unfinished until you and I reach out and say, “YES” to the gift Jesus offers us.

He is still offering it today and will continue to offer it every day for the rest of your life.

Will you take it?

Abundant blessings;

30
Nov
20

Old Faithful

[A warning to readers: this post contains a ton of references to the game of professional football. It is done in service– hopefully – of a larger theological point. Just the same, people who despise football might want to tune out here. You’ve been warned!]

And here I thought I had to wait a long time.

I moved to the Kansas City area in 1980. At that point it had been 10 years since the city’s pro football team, the Chiefs, had been to the championship game, the Super Bowl. When I first set foot in KC, fans were still basking in the warm glow of that championship. 

They were, however, beginning to grow a little antsy, wondering when the next one might come. 

Little did they (we) know that it would be another 39 years until we tasted the sweet nectar of the Lombardi Trophy again. 

Chiefs fans had to wait through the coaching regimes of Marv Levy, John Mackovic, Frank Gansz, Marty Schottenheimer, Gunther Cunningham, Dick Vermiel, and many others. 

We had to watch quarterbacks named Bill Kenney, Todd Blackledge, Steve DeBerg, Elvis Grbac, Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Trent Green and countless others struggle to string together successive wins. 

Along the way we did see a couple of stars named Joe Montana and Warren Moon drop out of the sky to light up the Arrowhead horizon a bit.

For the most part, though, the time since 1970 was a long, dry trek through the football wilderness for the Chiefs and their loyal fans…

… which, of course, all changed in 2017 with the drafting of Saint Patrick. Mahomes, that is. 

Now, after 50 years in the desert, the wait is finally over. The Kansas City Chiefs have arrived in the Land of Respectability.

Speaking now as an avid Chiefs fan, 50 years sure seemed like a long time for us to wait. But let’s put all of that waiting into perspective, shall we? 

  • God’s Chosen People – the Israelites – lived as enslaved people in the land of Egypt, waiting for deliverance, for nearly 400 years. 
  • Then, after Pharaoh reluctantly agreed to release them from bondage, it took another 40 years to travel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land.
  • The Jewish prophet Isaiah first foretold of the coming of God’s Messiah (or “anointed one”) in the year 356 BCE… in other words, 356 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. 
  • After their military defeat at the hands of the Babylonians and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the surviving Israelites spent 57 years in exile in Babylon, beginning in the year 587 BCE. 
  • Nearly two thousand years after his death and resurrection, Christians around the world still await the Second Coming of Christ that was promised by the gospel writers. 

I am not sure anyone really likes to wait… for ANYTHING.

But I have noticed that some people are better at waiting than others. These are the people who seem to possess an inner peace, supremely confident in the knowledge that their waiting will not be in vain. 

You know… the way people used to stand and wait for the eruption of the Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone National Park; every hour, on the hour, like clockwork. No panic. No worries.

Waiting for God to act really should be like waiting for Old Faithful. In fact, “Old Faithful” might actually be another good nickname for God, now that I come to think of it. 

In contrast, waiting for the arrival of a football championship depends on so many uncertain variables. It takes the right owner, the right General Manager, the right head coach, the right group of assistant coaches, and the right players all coming together at the right time. 

The word “faithfulness” is used 79 times in the Bible to describe this defining characteristic of God. The Psalmist said, “Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.” (Psalm 119:90, NRSV).

We don’t know exactly WHEN God will fulfill God’s promises… we just know that what God promises, God delivers. And in that certainty, we can wait with patience and hope…

… quite unlike the experience of waiting for the arrival of football glory.  

Abundant blessings;

12
Nov
20

No Strings Attached

Joan thinks of me as a hard-working guy.

  • The truth is, I am lazy to the core.

My doctor and various family members say they are impressed by my health and vitality.

  • The truth is, I hate to exercise and LOVE stuffing my face with “bad” food.

Some folks have described me as mellow and laid-back.

  • The truth is, I often have a hard time controlling my temper.

People have told me they like the way I write.

  • The truth is my writing has more rough edges and blatant errors than it should… especially considering my education and all these years of practice.

I have been complimented for my theological insight and apparent dedication to spiritual disciplines.

  • The truth is, I am much shallower and more spiritually immature than a person who calls himself a Christian really should be.

To some, I appear to be compassionate and actively invested in helping secure the well-being of other people.

  • The truth is, I am mostly concerned about myself and what is best for me.

Reading through this list, you might be tempted to believe I am brutally honest when it comes to self-assessment.

  • The truth is, I dwell mostly in the land of delusion and self-deception.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32, NRSV). 

  • The truth is, facing hard realities about oneself is usually the last thing most people want to do.

Why is that do you suppose? I mean, if we take Jesus at his word (and I do), it means most of us regularly choose imprisonment over freedom… illusion over reality… enslavement over liberation.  

I suspect it has to do with the fact that it is a lot more comfortable to live inside our own, carefully constructed “house of mirrors” than it is to face up to the sharp edges of reality. 

  • It reminds me of my friend who refused to see a doctor about his periodic bouts of “heartburn” … right up until he died in his living room recliner of a massive heart attack. 
  • … or the character “Red” Redding (played by Morgan Freeman) in the movie Shawshank Redemption. After spending most of his life behind bars, Red is finally released from prison, but finds that he ultimately can’t handle the freedom of life on the outside. 

Yes, living in the truth is hard. But it is even harder if we neglect to factor God’s amazing, redeeming, life-changing, future-altering GRACE into the picture. 

We can’t ever forget that God SEES exactly who each of us is. God KNOWS us better than we know ourselves. God REMEMBERS every sin, error, and injury from our past. God ANTICIPATES every major and minor slip-up we will commit in the future.

AND YET… God says, “I forgive you. I love you. Because of my infinite, unconditional love for you, I put on flesh and died for you. In that same love, I offer you this new day as a blank slate, here for you to create upon. Yes, I know you will probably find a way to mess it up somehow, but I still give it freely to you… no strings attached.”

To which I can only say, “Hallelujah and AMEN!”

And THAT is the truth.

Abundant blessings;

21
Aug
20

The Heartbreak of RPD

Chocolate on faceIn a wholehearted endorsement of the axiom advising us that confession is good for the soul, I offer this mea culpa today:

Sometimes I suffer from RPD… Resistant Personality Disorder.

What this means is that I will sometimes resist something just for the sake of resisting it. You know, sort of like the child who sticks out his tongue and says, “You can’t make me!”

No one is better suited to bear witness to the truth of this confession than my sainted spouse. She might, for example, point out that I have a smear of chocolate icing on my chin. To which I sometimes reply, “Well, maybe I really want it there!”

Or else she will lovingly point out that the shirt I’ve chosen doesn’t really go with those shorts. Then, in return for her caring compassion she will hear, “That’s OK. I like it, so I’m wearing it.”

And yes, you are right; there is surely a very special place in heaven waiting for her.

Hearing about RPD, you would be right to ask, “Who does that kind of stuff anyway? And why do they do it? Surely everyone is interested in receiving tips on how to be a little bit better version of themselves, aren’t they?”

I will answer your good question this way: sometimes I do it just to be a playful pill. You know… to liven things up around the house a little bit.

At other times, I am probably genuinely miffed. Miffed that someone else saw something amiss with me (my clothes, my hair, my grooming, my attitude, my personality, my whatever) that I did not see myself. And so I become irritated.

In this morning’s meditation from Fr. Richard Rohr (Franciscan priest, author, and founder of the Center for Contemplation and Action in Santa Fe, NM), I was comforted to learn that I might not be alone in my propensity to resist helpful insight. Fr. Rohr wrote, “We all come to wisdom at the major price of both our innocence and our control. Few of us go there willingly; it [wisdom] must normally be thrust upon us.”

Does that sound like YOU at all?

In my own life there was probably no greater example of RPD than my resistance to God’s call to ministry. I can point to moments when I heard – with shocking clarity – a voice saying, “Come serve me” at least 25 years before I actually responded to that call.

My excuses were endless; I knew better. I had my own plan. I wasn’t ready to stop having fun yet. I needed to use my gifts and abilities to “do cool stuff.” I could do “God stuff” around the edges and on the weekends when nothing else was going on.

Thankfully, God didn’t give up. Thankfully, God finally seeped through (actually, more like BROKE through with the full force of a 2×4) my thick skull and got my attention.

Sadly, all these years later and with so much formational experience, I still catch myself occasionally resisting wisdom. Hopefully not as consistently as I once did.

The writer of Proverbs personifies wisdom as God’s co-existing, feminine partner at the very beginnings of the world and gives her these words, “And now my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise… For whoever finds me finds life.” (Proverbs 8:32, 35, NRSV).

How about you? Are you eager to hear wisdom? Do you embrace it, even when it threatens to upset your plans and send you in a new direction?

Or are you still suffering a bad case of RPD?

The cure might be closer than you think.

 

Abundant blessings;

06
Aug
20

There Must Be a Reason

Asking whyMy wife, Joan, is a big fan of “doing things for a reason.”

And there is always a good, solid reason for the things she does.

When cooking her world-famous pasta primavera, for example, [What… you’ve never heard of it?] it is not by whim or accident that the carrots are cut to THAT exact size, or why they go into the water 10 minutes beforethe broccoli florets.

She chose to drive to Loveland via Highway 287 rather than I-25 the other day for the very good reason that Google alerted her to a possible tie-up on the interstate.

For the long-term health of our marriage, it is a really good thing she is wired this way. That’s because – as you might have guessed by now – I am sort of wired with the opposite polarity. “Oh, I don’t know… no reason,” is the phrase that most often comes out of my mouth when Joan asks why I chose THAT particular shirt to wear, or why I am using THAT tool to pull weeds from the yard.

Having a reason for the things one does is smart and commendable. And even though I only sporadically engage in this practice, I highly recommend it…

… except, that is, when it comes to the subject of love.

And to be clear, I am talking here about the selfless, unconditional, Christ-like, agape kind of love when I say this. Romantic-style love usually proceeds on a whole host of reasons… some rational, others not so much.

In the 22nd chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we find Jesus engaged in a street-corner debate with a lawyer. Eager to match wits with this up-and-coming rabbi, the lawyer poses this question: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Matthew 22:36, NRSV). Knowing that there were 613 laws to choose from, this hot-shot thought he had really painted Jesus into a corner.

As usual though, Jesus quiets the questioner and the crowd with a simple, straightforward response. He answers the lawyer by saying, “Love God, and love your neighbor. Everything else is window dressing ” Or words to that effect.

For me, the really revolutionary part of this response is the two words Jesus does NOT include in his answer.

Jesus’ answer does NOT include the words, “So that…”

In other words, he did not say, “Love your neighbor SO THAT the other guy will thank you.”

He didn’t say, “Love your neighbor SO THAT they will ‘owe you one’ and love you back.”

He didn’t say, “Love your neighbor SO THAT the crime rate in your neighborhood will go down.”

Heck… he didn’t even say, “Love your neighbor SO THAT she will join your church.”

There were, however, two other words that came after the word “neighbor.”  He said, “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

Wow! Wild. Radical. Revolutionary. Necessary.

Of course, if anyone had asked Jesus to explain WHY we should love our neighbor, he probably would not have said, “Oh I don’t know… no reason.”

 

He probably would have said something like, “Because your Father told you to!”




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A law student and an avid reader. Along with your desired book reviews you're gonna get great book suggestions. Books of all genre with detailed review. Thank you, Visit Again ❤️

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