Am I Loveable? Part 2

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Stanley Park Pool — Vancouver Public Library

I used to play what could be called a “game,” but it was way more serious than the light-hearted approach I took with it showed my kids. We could call it “Who loves you?” When I was driving the kids to school, I would asked them a simple question, “Who loves you?” And they would answer with a sing-song list of those who had shown them love – parents, grandparents, cousins, siblings, neighbours, Jesus. We had fun. We laughed. They teased me with their answers. But I knew something they may not yet have grasped:  the very quality and trajectory of their lives rests on the answer to that question.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus – reading from the scroll of Isaiah.
(Luke 4:18-19, ESV)

 

Our sense of place in the world is dynamic and subject to change. A traumatic event can shake our confidence of love-ability. But trauma is not required in order for us to be plagued by shame, guilt and fear. The “normal series” of events common to life can create disappointment among peers, teachers, and bosses leading us to shape a negative view of ourselves. To be taken over by the belief that we are not loveable  profoundly affects our capacity to love others and to receive the love of others.  In this situation we have actually been taken captive by a lie.

The truth: The love-ability factor does not ultimately sit with us — it sits within God who has made us and acted on our behalf. God is the supreme lover of our souls.

Jesus includes an understanding of our love-ability in his conversation with a lawyer about the greatest command:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:37-39)

 

When we are locked up in a love-ability deficit, it creates a cascade of insecurity resulting in desperate acts of self-improvement and even despair. We may severely limit our engagement with people, hiding the truth about us, in order to manage pain and avoid anything that might bring up fear or the shame of not being loveable or powerful enough to command adoration. Though the sources of darkness ravaging the soul are varied, the experience of not feeling loveable or of believing you cannot be loved is common.

We must see Jesus acting decisively for us. 

Jesus has a larger narrative for the glory of God. He understands that we are participants in a cosmic struggle against the knowledge of God. He says, “the thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10) He was aware that the Evil One seeks to destroy people. What better way to alienate people from God than to attack our very receptors for the love of God?

Jesus’ life, His death, and His resurrection are an announcement of God’s love for us and the simultaneous in-breaking of God’s power ushering in His rule and reign. He is overcoming evil with good. He desires to make healing and the progressive health-making work of God available to you so He took up the Cross. Believing God, as He revealed Himself  in Christ Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, is to grapple with and accept a profound truth question:

Who loves you?

Real

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1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  1 John 1:1-3

Christianity is concerned with what is real. Among the realists and materialists of my community there is a steady fear of religiosity composed of spiritual mumbo jumbo or far out stories or a cult of secret knowledge. I share that fear. However, I also believe our danger is to construct meaning from our achievements with a short-sighted view of life that excludes eternity.

John, the author of this letter, believes reality has a facet that must be  revealed. He treats the life, message and identity of Jesus of Nazareth as an undeniable reality. He writes to the churches of Asia Minor in the last decade of the first century affirming the message of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Life. Jesus is the reality. For John, the Word of Life proclaimed to the churches was a matter of historical reality. The apostles where declaring Jesus, whom they had

heard,

saw,

observed with interest, and

touched.

John says, Jesus was real. Having been with Him, John believes Jesus Christ came from the communion of the Father and Spirit to make the life of God knowable and accessible to us.

What kind of god lies?

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1Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; Titus 1:1-3

The Gospel showed me God keeping His promise.

Eternal life available through Jesus Christ.

Just as He promised.

Made known now through the preaching of the Gospel.

By people entrusted with the Gospel and animated by God’s command.

What kind of god lies?

The one that wants to use me up.

False promises constructed on shiny words

fail to deliver the life Jesus intends.

But echoing in the chambers of my heart is the lie of the gods:

if you have achievement,

beauty or strength,

riches,

then you will have power, control,

and love.

The lie lasts but only  a while.

The love of our Saviour lasts

forever.

Jesus does not lie.

Confidence in the Gospel

Confidence in the Gospel

Is it possible to locate“content” that can change your life? As I listen to students in our  community I hear their hope tinged with cynicism. Perhaps rightfully so. The degree is not enough.

The Apostle Paul had great confidence in the Gospel of Jesus. He trusted the content of the Gospel as the “word of truth” capable of transforming lives and generating love.

Check out what he said in Colossians 1:3-7

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

The Gospel informs and the Spirit transforms.

The Gospel travels on the tracks of relationships.

The Gospel invites us into new relationships with Jesus and His people.

The Gospel transforms as we hear and understand the grace of God.

The Gospel must be animated in the lives of Jesus’ disciples.

False Teachers and Fast Ferries

Scripture:  2 Peter 2:1-3 (NLT)

1But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

Observations:

Peter warns the church to pay attention:  false teachers will show up.

They are cleaver teachers with “destructive heresies.”

They deny Jesus.

They will get a following.

The “way of truth” will be slandered because of the false teachers.

They will be greedy.

Application:

A few years ago BC introduced the “fast ferry” to our fleet of ships.  They didn’t last long on the water!  The wake created by these sleek and fast boats damaged the shore lines.  The boats were expensive to maintain.  Soon they were docked and ultimately sold at a great loss.

Every leader creates a wake.  All leaders and messages are not equal in the size of their wake.  Smooth talkers will abound.  Crowds may come.  But the character and heart of a false teachers is false even as they distort the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  In the wake of such false teachers many other people are hurt and washed up on the shore.  Then the way of Jesus is slandered by those who see the devastation.

In this text, Peter would have us pay attention to two aspects of a leader’s life:  1.  The way they handle the Gospel.  2.  The way they handle people and their money.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, may your church become so familiar with your Word and the character of Christ that they recognize what is false and distance themselves from it.  Please bring healing to those who have been hurt by false teachers.  May both your tender mercy and your fierce love prevail so that Jesus is lifted up.  May your Kingdom come.  AMEN.