reflection

 

Before both of my sons were born, I decided I would begin a journal about the anticipation I felt before they arrived.
And once they did arrive, the tone of the journal changed to how happy they have made me, and what an amazing blessing their lives have been for mine.
Through time, I’ve added a few items in that journal about the things they need to know in this life.
The idea was a little grim, but one day, when I’m gone, and if the lessons and examples I’ve tried to impart don’t stick, they’d have sort of a reference manual for dad’s wisdom, if I can use that word.
You see, my dad died when I was in my early 20s —
and that’s just at the time when you begin to see your dad in a different light:
the years of need as a boy have passed, as have the years of revolt…
and they open up to this wonderful friendship of a parent and a grown child.
And it’s in this time that all the stuff you’ve learned — all that wisdom that had been imparted — is put into practice.
So when my dad passed away right at the time I had graduated college and was starting to put those life’s lessons into practice, well, there was a lot I had forgotten:
Are the propane gas tank’s threads right to tighten or left?
When I tie that windsor knot, how long is it supposed to be?
When I go to buy the car, should I try to talk down the price even after the manager says no?
I wished I had a little book of his wisdom.
But in the end — even if it’s a little harder to do — I would have to really think hard and try to picture my dad in those instances.
See, it was his character, not his words, that led me in the right direction.  
I could see in my mind how my dad acted, and once I did that, I could reflect him that way.

Farewell
In our reading today in John 13, we’re at a juncture between the Last Supper discourse and the Farewell Discourse.
Jesus has been betrayed by Judas, and now, he’s going to begin talking more about what will happen after he’s killed.
Here comes all those lessons that Jesus wants to impart on his “children” before he has to leave them.
And, praise God, they have been written down for us to refer back to.
But in the moment, Jesus was speaking to the apostles — the original and chosen disciples — sans Judas, the betrayer.
And he’s beginning to tell them about the things that will happen and, most importantly, the things that they must do.
Specifically, he tells them this in Verse 31:
Jesus says that he’s been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.
What does it mean to be glorified?
Most of us would answer correctly:
To be praised or honored or lift up.”
But when we praise or honor or lift up someone, what are we doing?
We’re making them known.
Do you see this?
If we had a party to honor someone, we are giving them the best seat, we are saying nice things about them, we are giving them respect.
By elevating them with our honor, they are becoming more known.
So let’s use the words glorify and made known interchangeably in this verse 31 again:
Jesus says that he’s been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.
Change that to:
Jesus says that he’s been made known, and God has been made known in him.
Now do you see what Jesus is saying?
He’s saying “You now see that I am the Son of God, that I am Lord, and you have also seen that God the Father has done this for the Son.”
It’s been made known!
How?
The next verse, 32:
“If God has been glorified (or made known) in (Jesus), God will also glorify (Jesus) in himself and will glorify (Jesus) immediately.”

Contrast
So great, the apostles are thinking:
We KNOW Jesus is Lord. Let’s celebrate!
Not so fast, Jesus says.
Then he drops the bomb:
“Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me — but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now — ‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’”
The apostles just finished this amazing meal in which Jesus washes their feet, they break bread together, they are in Holy Communion with one another.
They are feeling invincible, unstoppable and unshakeable.
And then Jesus says “I gotta leave you now.”
And more, where he’s going, they can’t come.
That’s it. It’s over.
And as far as the apostles know in that moment, it is all over.
Jesus is leaving them.
But he says these often-quoted words:
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.  This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

The example
I don’t know if John got out a little pocket journal in that moment and began writing those words.
Probably not.
They probably were burned into his and the other apostles’ memories.  
And that commandment, that lesson, would be kept and used every time they were forgetting what it meant to make known the Christ.
I can see it now:
“When losing faith, act in love, and Christ will be known.”
“When times are hard, act in love, and Christ will be known.”
When I’m being persecuted and no one believes what I say, act in love, and Christ will be known.”

Father Peter Scholtes
In the early church, when Christ was still new on the scene and numbers were being added to the ranks daily, nonbelievers would see the Christ followers and say “Look at how they love one another.”
Acts tells us that the disciples shared everything, lived communally, and gave their lives to The Way.
They did what Jesus asked:
The glorified him: Made him known,
how?
By their love.
In a few moments, we will sing that song that’s probably already rattling around in your heads or maybe even on your tongues:
“They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love.”
This popular hymn was written by a Catholic priest in Chicago in the 1960s.
It was a time of turmoil,  and Fr. Peter needed a hymn for the church’s youth group to help them understand how Christ calls them to love —
especially as the tumultuous Chicago Civil Rights movement was at a fever pitch, and kids were trying to understand why there were sides so deeply entrenched in hate.
Father Peter went right to this verse, didn’t he?
How will anyone know we are followers of Christ?
Is it because we hold membership at a church?
Or because we volunteer in the soup kitchen?
Is it because we have a Jesus fish bumper-sticker on our SUV?
Or is it something else?
Maybe these are acts of love — reminders to the world that we do what we do because we’re trying to expand into the kingdom life and bring everyone we know with us.
But maybe it’s because we don’t just act like we love; but we truly love.
God is not just with isn’t just some sentimental idea —
God is truly with us because he lives inside of us.
I want you to think about this for a moment:
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6.19-20:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own;
you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
 Our bodied, Paul reminds us, are temples.
Who dwells in the temple?
God does!
It’s God’s house.
God chooses to dwell in each one of us as the Holy Spirit!
We are all these temples, these churches, these houses, these tents in which God lives.
Have you ever just though flat-out about what that means?
These bodies are not ours.
And who lives inside of them — God himself! — asks us to recognize that!
Jesus demands it in this commandment!
Our jobs, my brothers and sisters, is to make known God within us.
This is what it means to glorify him.
Not just when we’re here in worship in these four walls that we errantly call church;
but each and ever day, where ever we go, and with whomever we meet!
God lives in me!
Say it with me:
God lives in me!

By our love
Indeed, they will know we are Christians by our love.
That’s how God is made known:
Through our love!
How will the world know we are disciples of Jesus Christ?
Through our love!
Again, what does the world see when it sees us?
I want us to really think about that again:
If you are out on the street, and someone sees you —
maybe it’s someone who really needs help and doesn’t know who to ask, and is afraid because so many people have treated them harshly —
would that person look at you and see Jesus?
Would they ask you for help?
Would they seek the love of Jesus from you?
Would they even do that here in church sitting beside you?
If not, why?
Isn’t this the place where we come to let down those worldly masks, to be vulnerable, to give what we have, to share what we can, to love as Jesus shows us?
I asked my Wednesday group:
Would the world notice the absence of the Spirit if you weren’t here to make him known?
And what would the church look like if everyone was committed as you are — or aren’t?
If everyone prayed and gave and served exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered, or would it be weak and listless?”
That’s a tough question, and Francis Chan posed it not all that long ago.
This is really important, brothers and sisters.
It’s so important, that it was a dying man’s wish.
And that dying man was Christ himself.
Taking time before heading to the cross to tell his followers, “When people see you, I want them to see me.”
Just as God is known when people see Jesus, God must be known when people see us.
This is the reflection that we must strive to become.
My whole goal in my life is not to do such a great job or do such wonderful things that people say “Wow, you are awesome!”;
I want to do everything I can with the power of the Holy Spirit and people to say, “Wow, God is so awesome!”
I don’t want to do even amazing things on my own and ask God to bless it into greatness;
I want to know the amazing things God does and become a part of them.
Jesus says if we just have love for one another, we will make God known.
How easy is that to do?
To simply love one another just like Jesus showed us.  
His words are with us because they’re not etched in a journal;
his words are with us because they’re etched in our hearts.
his words are with us because he is with is.
Truly living within us, just waiting for the chance to be made known.
Let’s simply ask Jesus for the courage to step back out into the world and make him known today.
 .

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Recent Posts

June 9, 2019

May 19, 2019

April 28, 2019

March 31, 2019

Please reload

Archive
Please reload

Search By Tags

I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!

Please reload

Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
  • facebook-square
  • Twitter Square