Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nouwen -- Part 4

The next chapter of "In the Name of Jesus" is called The Question: "Do You Love Me". This is in reference to Jesus' discussion with Peter in John 21. He are some nuggets from Nouwen...
  • Before Jesus commissioned Peter to be a shepherd, he asked him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?".
  • Look at Jesus. The world did not pay any attention to him. He was crucified and put away. His message of love was rejected by a world in search of power, efficiency, and control.
  • The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus?
  • The Christian leader of the future is the one who truly knows the heart of God as it has become flesh, "a heart of flesh", in Jesus.
  • very few people know that they are loved without any conditions and limits.
  • The radical good news is that the second love is only a broken reflection of the first love and that the first love is offered to us by a God in whom there are no shadows.
  • Knowing the heart of Jesus and loving Him are the same thing.
  • when we live in the world with that knowledge we cannot do other than bring healing, reconciliation, new life, and hope wherever we go.

This is the challenge and call to all Christ followers in general but to those who have been called in particular: How much do we truly love Jesus? We live in a world that is so focused on doing that we often never get to the point of just being. Jesus summed up how to show our affection and the results in John 14:

If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

In a rush to continually "do something for God" we are apt to lose sight of His heart. We navigate through life judging success by standards set by the world around us rather than those set by the One who created us. Most would agree that bringing healing, reconciliation, new life and, hope into our world is what we would want to see. We just are going about it on our own rather than under His direction. The pipeline to understanding is obedience. That leads to insight, which can then lead to direction. Do I love Jesus enough to obey His commands even when it appears to make better sense to follow my own sense?

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