So I prayed quite a bit; I prayed blessing on this man, on his business, on his real estate holdings. But wait, there's more!
It's kindness that leads to repentance. It really is.
Does Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek mean we must tithe?
I admit: the murderous persecution of Christians in the Middle East is an ugly thing. I’ve seen photos that make me want to throw up, and I’ve heard stories that make me want to send an army to the Middle East to bomb them back to the stone age.
I’ve been talking to other believers who have been arguing in favor of responding to terrorist violence with a violent (eg military) response. I understand that there are good and responsible arguments that can be made for using force against terrorism.
I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t. I suspect that there are good arguments on both sides of that conversation. I am fortunate in that I don’t need to have the answer to that particular question.
However, I’ve been observing that when the Church faced its first terrorist, God didn’t kill the terrorist. In fact, that terrorist, a maniacal Pharisee named Saul, became the apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist for the Kingdom of God in the history of the planet.
I’m not saying, “use force” or “don’t use force” against terrorists.
But I think I’m ready to say, Whatever you do, pray for their conversion. Pray for a Damascus Road experience for whichever terrorist group has your attention right now.
If it is true (and it is) that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” then there is going to be a revival of epic proportions in several places in the Earth as soon as those seeds hatch.
We’ll need passionate people to lead it, and we’ll need more of them than we have now.
Shoot them or don’t shoot them, as your conscience leads you. But for Heaven’s sake, do pray for them. Pray for their conversion. Pray that they meet the God of the Universe. And pray that he uses them in His Kingdom, like he used Paul.
That’s a response to terrorism with a good track record.
I’ve heard John 14:15 quoted many times in reference to obeying some of the laws of the Old Testament: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Or they’ve quoted John, 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command.”
The verse is thrown out as a prooftext: “You have to follow the commands of God!” though nobody’s expected to follow all the commands: they don’t promote blood sacrifices or stoning sinners. It’s just an attempt to coerce believers into submitting to their own favorite part of the Law.
This is an attempt at control: whether from ignorance or malevolence, this is an attempt to wield the Law, as it has always been wielded, to exercise control over you: “You must do what I say you must do, because of this verse!” This is part of “the curse of the Law.” And implicit in it is “If you don’t do what I say, you’re guilty!” and this is the rest of “the curse of the Law.”
Let’s look a little closer, shall we, at what Jesus said? Jesus doesn’t say, “If you love me, keep all the commands of the Law,” or even “If you love me, keep this particular group of the Law’s commands.”
What does he say? “Keep MY commandments.” Keep the commandments that Jesus has given. Not the commandments of the Law: the commandments of Jesus!
What did Jesus command? Let’s pull out a concordance and look, shall we?
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
This is my command: Love each other.
You’re welcome to look it up yourself (http://nwp.link/1HpK278); these are actually the only commandments that Jesus gave. It’s pretty clear that, while he has commanded it several times, he only gave one command: love each other.
So yeah: if you love Jesus, keep the commandments he gave: they’re all about love each other. That’s it. This isn’t about obeying the law, or about religious traditions, or about dietary requirements or even a command to “do good works.”
It’s about loving each other.
It probably is appropriate to point out that love – true ἀγαπάω love – is a pretty big topic. It’s all about pursuing their good over your own good, and that’s a costly love that will itself require much of us. But the command is love; the command is not about submitting to the Law, either the Old Covenant Law, or the rules that someone is trying to control you with.
Brothers and sisters, the Law is dead. Long live the command of love.
I have a confession to make. I’ve been leading you astray. I’ve deceived you.
Let me explain.
I write, from time to time, about some of the interesting interactions that I’ve had with God, and about some of the interesting things I’ve discovered as I walk with him.
And that’s where the deception comes in.
I only write about the interesting stuff. I don’t write about the days and days of nothing in particular going on, because there’d be nothing to write.
Let me explain.
I’m a married man. More specifically, I’m a happily married man. Sometimes, Milady & I will spend the whole evening together in the same room, her reading, me writing, neither of us saying a thing. We’re just happy to be in each other’s presence. Seriously, I was in tears the other day, just thinking about growing old with her. It makes me really happy.
When I’m working in my garden, I can really often feel Father’s presence like that: quietly together. He’s taught me quite a lot there: how to transplant tiny seedlings, how to get more produce from a tiny garden, how to nurture the tender plants, and how, if I get the basics done well, the weeds won’t really be an issue.
I’m also a working man. And I gotta say that it’s not real often (though it does happen) that God speaks into the technical details of a project that I’m working on. And even when he does, I don’t write about it, because most of the story is about tweaky nerdly stuff that nobody outside my field is interested in. God showing me the right path to take a big bus through a crowded parking lot, or the best way to make these particular gears fit properly in a watch: this is not the stuff of interesting articles of faith and maturity.
But it is the stuff of real relationship with God.
I’m convinced that the best part of my relationship with God is not the amazing encounters or the awesome revelations or the impressive miracles. Yeah, those are fine, and I’ll not complain about them (this is a good place to say, “More Lord!” I think).
It’s like a good marriage: I love the times we get to go out to dinner, or where we host a barbecue for some friends, times of intimacy together. But the real strength of the marriage doesn’t come from those: it comes from the quiet, daily, almost ritual times together. We don’t have to talk about who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher or take out the garbage or cook dinner, because we’re together.
And a love relationship with the Creator of the Universe is actually pretty similar: The fancy dinners are great, but quiet times of everyday life are where the real life & health come from.
So I apologize if I’ve left you with the impression that life in God is not all cool revelations and glorious highlights. Those happen, and they’re fun and all. But the day to day time together, not even really needing to form words: those are the places where the treasure’s found.
And those don’t make good stories to write about.