No Greater Love

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another
John 13:34,35

I don’t remember the day but it was early and cold, bitterly cold with no wind at all. The kind of morning that covers windows with frost, freezes fingers and makes one dream of warmer places. My wife and I were leaving for a weekend getaway, stopping by her Mom and Dads to say goodbye for five minutes. Five minutes turned into thirty. Knowing the windows would be frosted over I told my wife I would start the car and scrape the windows.

After putting on my heaviest winter coat and leather gloves I walked outside to find our little Chevy Chevette running with the windows scraped. I knew right away who had done that for us and why. My father-in-law Charlie, the greatest Christian I have ever known.

Charlie was never famous or looked on as a leader in the church. He was not an ordained minister and to the best of my knowledge never desired to be a preacher. But in the truest definition of the word he was certainly a minister.

Listening to the Angels around us

For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
Luke 4:10

The Beatitudes in sign languageMy wife and I enjoy going to the Illinois Indian Powwow held annually in a nearby park. Last year our granddaughter joined us. She and Grandma spent over an hour at the craft tent creating a beautiful beaded hair clip with a feather on the end.

One Saturday not too long ago my wife and I made plans to take our grandaughter birthday shopping. So we picked up B from her parents and off we went with B wearing her beaded hair clip.

After looking at toys, clothes and more it was time to check out. My wife checked out our purchases, while B and I set off to find a frozen drink. We met beside the store’s northern exit after Grandma had paid for the presents  and walked outside with B carrying her drink, my wife carrying B and I carrying our purchases.

“Where is my hair clip?” asked B.

My wife asked her if she remembered where she had left it.

“I hung it on the cart” replied B.

“Oh I’m sorry”, my wife said, “lets go see if we can find it”.

And Who is My Neighbor?

The Parable of the Good Neighbor
Luke 10:25-29  (NIV)

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jan Wijnants - Parable of the Good Neighbor.jpgI have always believed the message Jesus was trying to get across is that everyone is our neighbor, not just those with whom we live beside, look like and agree with. Unfortunately not everyone seems to agree with me. A 2016 poll by Public Religion Research Institute shows that 53 percent of white evangelical Protestants believe immigrants weaken America. The current attitude against immigrants and others considered to be outsiders is troubling. In this article however I would like to explore an aspect of the parable that is often overlooked; the shame factor.

Trees. A poem by Joyce Kilmer.

I don’t see the poem as just about trees, it’s about us. From early childhood, a tree whose hungry mouth is prest, through the struggles of life. We look to God in prayer and supplication (looking at God all day), whether in the summer of our life (with a nest of robins in our hair), the dreariness of rain (intimately living with rain) or as we grow old (snow upon our bosom). We are God’s creation; woven together in an eternal song, dependant upon the Earth, the air around us and God.

Truth and Simplicity

Some of the criticisms directed at Mr. Kilmer were that much of his poetry was too simple and overly sentimental. But often that is exactly what we need instead of spending the day wondering what a phrase means. Or as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:12 (NIV) “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity[a] and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace”.

Religion and the free exercise thereof

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution begins with the line, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. A concept which has been under attack since the nineteen eighties but has come under intensified assault since the election of Donald Trump.

Establishment of Religion

Books have been written on what the founders meant but the religious freedom clause is easier to understand broken into two sections. The first part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” is there to prohibit a state religion. The founders were very aware of the Church of England’s influence over Great Britain.

Bishops and ministers in the Church of England swore an oath to remain faithful to the King. at the time of the revolution there wasn’t a bishop in the Colonies but the Anglican Church was attempting to establish one. For many this was not just an issue of religion but one of individual liberty. Many who had fled religious persecution were afraid it had followed them to the new land.

Works and Faith go together like

Works and faith, you can’t have one without the other. Not quite as catchy as ‘Love and Marriage’ but the concept is the same and perhaps more fundamentally true. Marriage is the public visible expression of love while works are the public visible expression of faith.

Faith made manifest in Works

The  second chapter of James is an excellent study in works and faith. My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? James 2:1 (NLT).  I could write an entire article on favoring one group of people over another (and I have) but that is not the point being made here. The concept is that faith driven works are as much attitude as action.

Faith - Where is the love.jpg
Photo By Tatoli ba Kultura

Racism, sexism, homophobia; these are some of the most obvious examples of favoring one group over another. The truth is we tend to put people into groups and align ourselves within one or more of those groups. It is not a new concept. Many years ago people banded together into tribes, tribes grew into countries. Most countries however have divided themselves into a multitude of groups. Very often those groups divide themselves even further. Sometimes with disastrous results.

Arguing about Evolution is a waste of time

I know patience is one of the fruits of the spirit but I have to confess to I lose mine whenever I hear the Creation/Evolution argument. Why? Because it’s the wrong argument. It’s not important how God created the universe – only that He did. A truth that is lost as soon as the debate starts.

Evolution Editorial cartoon depicting Charles Darwin as an ape If we are honest with ourselves we have to admit we don’t have the facts to prove the world is 7,000 years old. We are not going to convince someone who wants to argue the ‘facts’. All the scientific evidence available say the Earth is 5 billion years old and the universe 15 billion.  The sad truth is we will lose if we try to argue creation against evolution based upon available data – things we can see, measure and test.

The only evidence we have of God is our faith.  Whenever I hear people debating Creation vs. Evolution Hebrews 11:1 immediately comes to mind

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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Thought for the day

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple.

But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas. - George Bernard Shaw

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