So, Getting Back to Love…

Christianity isn’t about figuring out how to get Jesus to consent to me being a jerk to someone else. My calling is clear: In this life, I don’t get to play God, I get to imitate Jesus. John Pavlovitz, Stuff That Needs To Be Said

I’m doing my best to get back to basics. What exactly is it that we, as followers of Jesus, are supposed to be.

It’s not about the doing, because doing comes from the being. And I can’t separate my actions and my words and my thoughts from who I am in Jesus. And that’s the rub. How do I distinguish who I am in the Truth of Jesus from who I think I’m supposed to be (or who others think I’m supposed to be based on their interpretation of who they’ve decided Jesus is supposed to be)?

Jesus weeping

I’ve been prompted this week to reread the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7) – to study in earnest those red letter words of our Savior, and along with those words read the biblical commentary in a few different Bible versions. And then ask the Holy Spirit for clarification. I truly want to know not just what Jesus said, but what he meant.

Too often I hear his words used to accuse, to frighten, to push away, to exclude. As I examine these words, I am more and more certain this is not how Jesus intended them. When I consider who he used them with and the actions that followed – breaking bread, healing, teaching – my attention is drawn to his deliberate compassion and mercy.

Every time someone uses the words of Jesus as a hammer, I want to use them as I contemplate they were meant – as inspiration to see the heart of the Father. As a way to lift someone’s eyes to see hope. As a vehicle to connect. As a way to love people into the kingdom of God. As a promise of a new relationship surrounded by eternal love and grace and mercy.

There is much discussion over spiritual warfare – exponentially more than discussions of love. Yet Jesus spoke much more of love than war. And the apostle John reminds us starkly on which to focus:

By this it is evident who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:1 (emphasis mine)

Jesus also spoke about unity among believers. I am certain he did not anticipate the numerous denominations of Christianity in the world. He said, “I am the vine and you are the branches; if you remain in me and I in you, you will produce much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” He spoke of One Vine; Himself. We’ve become so caught up in the fight for our belief systems we end up worshiping our beliefs about what we believe more than we worship the One who is at the heart of our transformation. As a result, we turn people away from the Vine.

 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  John 17:20-21 (emphasis mine)

We all need to get back to basics. So I issue a challenge.

This week, gather together at least two Bibles – different versions with commentaries. Throw out all your preconceived notions. Make the time to read and study Matthew Chapters five, six and seven. Open your heart to the words of Jesus. Refresh your relationship with Him.

Let Him transform your heart and mind.

18 comments

  1. Basics is needed ever so often…vw

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  2. I am going to see what I can do about that. That is the sort of things that have been working in my spirit.

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    1. That’s awesome, Susan. I’ll be reading along with you.

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  3. Melissa · ·

    Susan this is exactly what the Lord has been speaking to me. We seem to worship the bible and not Jesus if that makes sense (in my head it does lol). I am going to be writing on this subject today hopefully but you are right on the money. Love to you

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    1. I know, right? I’ll pop over. Of course it makes sense. Love you, sister.

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      1. Melissa · ·

        Still working out the thought on it, instead God gave me the secret santa blog to send off 🙂

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  4. “He spoke of One Vine; Himself. We’ve become so caught up in the fight for our belief systems we end up worshiping our beliefs about what we believe more than we worship the One who is at the heart of our transformation.” Amen and amen! That is spot-on, my sister. Great post. Blessings.

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    1. Thank you so much, Mel. My heart says we need to get close to Him again – all of us. That’s how unity will happen; that’s how we will come into His embrace. Take away all the other “stuff;” just connect, heart to heart.
      Blessings back to you.

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  5. I am so thankful that you can hear the call of Jesus on your life and that you search for him and a deeper understanding and relationship with him. May you have knowledge of who Jesus is. May we all.

    Mercy and peace to you

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    1. Oh, bless you, Tom. Yes, he calls me to write, but he also calls me to see the Go(o)dness in people first – His likeness in them that makes them His children. It doesn’t matter if they accept Him yet; they are still His creation. Our task is to love as Jesus loved, for how else can we make disciples?

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      1. Mercy not judgment. Love not hate.

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      2. Exactly, my friend.

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  6. Excellent post! You are exactly right about this. I hear what many churches and/or individual Christians are saying and see what they are doing and I often think, “What would Jesus do? This isn’t what I hear in his words.” I have always loved the sermon on the mount and will read it again in two or three versions with fresh eyes, ears, and heart so I can hear what Jesus was really saying.. Thanks for the suggestion! Peace and love, Elaine

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    1. Thanks, Elaine. Jesus loved with great strength of conviction. When he said our faith had to be greater than that of the Pharisees, this is what he meant. Love isn’t always easy, but it’s what we are called to do as we strive to imitate him and draw people to the Father.

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  7. Compassion, mercy, kindness, being one with the Father. This was Jesus! Gentle, humble. Why don’t we follow His example or at least try to? Why would anyone use His words as a hammer? I think about this constantly. And I start and end every day on my knees, asking for sanctification. I have four Bibles! I will give this a try, Susan. Thank you.

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    1. It’s quite interesting when we read his actual words and study them, Beth. They are a far cry from what some folks make them out to be. Even the words that appear to contradict his main message don’t when read in the context of the who and what of his telling.

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