theROCK

Be-Loved

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I must tell you, the gospel readings for these last two months have been challenging to me. Words that started the month with “those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” A couple of weeks ago, the story of the prodigal son, and this week the story of poor Lazarus and the rich man. Most of the remarks from Jesus are directed to his disciples…that’s us. The words of Jesus around discipleship are both hard and easy at the same time.

Hard, because Jesus’ call to give up everything and follow him, means letting go of all the protections we have built up over the years. Protections which mask our shame, imagine our control, and falsify our security.

Easy, because of the realizations of the false, paper protections they are. What does God want from us? In short, he wants our response to the unconditional love he offers, and has been offering since he “knew us in the womb.” Why do we, including myself, find it so hard to believe God will provide?

Instead we struggle, we scheme, we try to make life work, and when it doesn’t, we run to God like injured little children run to their parent. I am sure God doesn’t mind how we come to him, but I also know the peace of really letting God provide, and knowing, even if sporadically, that his love lets us lead the best life possible. We could be distressed by the commands of Jesus by trying to be humble, to be compassionate, to be empathetic. The revelation in these attempts is the word “be”. If you wish to know what it takes to follow God, just remember who we are…his beloved, and stop trying so hard to “do” and instead…be-loved.

The Image of God

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I am sure you have seen the people who stand near the freeway ramps with various signs saying, “Homeless,” or “hungry,” or even, “I’m a vet.”

I know many times I see these people and wonder, “What’s their story?” Sadly, in my cynicism, I simply drive past, or to make things more uncomfortable for me, I have to stop at the light, and I do everything in my power not to make eye contact!

Often when I see them, I think of the story of the Good Samaritan. In the gospel, when Jesus is asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He goes on to tell the story of the man who was robbed and left critically injured.

So, who is MY neighbor? Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor in theory should be easy, but it is often very difficult.

This gospel is perhaps a wake-up call for me to reflect on who is my neighbor.

  • Is it the elderly person struggling in the supermarket that I could help?
  • Is it the driver I let merge into my lane in traffic?
  • Is it the person walking down street who I nod or smile at when I pass?
  • Is it the person with the sign near the freeway?

Am I loving them as myself? Am I seeing them as the image of God in which they were created?

Some interesting and weighty questions.  Who’s YOUR neighbor?

Signature Statement

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My friend Christine does something unique on her Instagram account. The first thing you see on her profile, right under her name is this: 1 Corinthians 13. She calls it her signature statement.

When I asked her about it, she said she did it for three reasons:

  1. She wanted to choose a bible verse that would represent her. It’s her guiding principle, her north star, something that would always remind her how to live her life.
  2. She wanted it to be straight forward, yet cause the reader to have to do a bit of research to see what it means. What exactly is the Bible verse? Why this verse?
  3. She wanted to put her faith on display. Let everyone know this is how she lives her life.

I love the idea of a signature statement, something that would guide me every day. I’m now on the search for my own. Which, in all honesty, is leading me to read more of the Bible and study the various verses. And it’s causing me to look at my life and declare what I stand for and who I am. And it’s causing me to put my faith front and forward in my life.

And now I’ve just realized how clever Christine actually is. She’s brought me closer to God without even trying, just by adding a few words and numbers to her social media profile.

“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

Posted by Dan Herda with 1 Comments

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