“As I have loved you, so you must love one another” — Jesus
There’s something remarkably poetic about laying down your life for someone who is taking it from you.
The paradox of love is that the moment we expect it—we lose it. Love reciprocated is payment. Love unearned is grace.
What if that’s the point of all of this? What if that’s what it means to be a Christian—to be a human? That we love each other, not in spite of our inadequacies, but in the midst of them.
Imagine being loved unconditionally in your worst state? And then loving others in theirs?
Peace and love, friends.
I can die, because I have life in Christ. I can be an utter failure, because Christ has won the cosmic victory for me. I can be unloved, because God so loved the world that He gave His son. I can feel ill-equipped because the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of me. I can be broken and fragmented and damaged because Christ Jesus has come to make all things new. I can be stupid, because God takes the foolish things of the world and makes them strong. I can be weak, because in my weakness, He is made strong.
That’s why I no weapon formed against me can prosper. I never have anything to lose. We’re playing with the house’s money. Be brave!
Peace and love, friends.
Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow
Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray
Sometimes today it seems that our personal relationship with God is treated as no more than a mere arrangement or understanding that Jesus and his Father have about us. Our personal relationship then only means that each believer has his or her own unique account of heaven, which allows them to draw on the merits of Christ to pay their sin bills…
But who does not think there should be much more to a personal relationship than that? A mere benefactor, however powerful, kind and thoughtful, is not the same thing as a friend. Jesus says, “I have called you friends.” (Jn 15:15) and “Look, I am with you every minute, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20; cf. Heb 13:5-6)
Reading in the Gospel of John today, I came across a familiar story about Jesus in Galilee, when he comes to a paralytic by the Pool at Bathesda (chapter 5).
Anyway, it says that there were many people there waiting by the water, but Jesus only went to one of them. That’s always such a strange thing—when Jesus goes to one out of a crowd, and ignores everyone else around them. Why did He pick this person? Why not anyone else?
But as he approaches the man, he asks if the man would like to become well. The man responds that he has no one to put him into the water.
How funny is that? I think I understand why Jesus went to this man out of everyone else—this man was alone. This man thought he knew the cure to his joy—but he was unable to achieve it. Everyone else had someone…
And so, here are all these sick people, waiting by this water—because superstition tells them that it will heal them. They are convinced that once the water is stirred, if they can get into it, they will be healed. And so, all these paralytics have someone to help them in, but this one man is all alone, and unable to get into the water—and so, I’m sure he’s depressed and feeling hopeless and defeated. I can almost hear his words he was thinking: “You’re never going to get in. If only you had someone. This is just your life. You’ll always be messed up. You’re never going to become okay. Everyone else will… but not you.”
I know these words, because these are the words I’ve heard in my own head…
And yet, Jesus comes to the man, and asks him a simple question: “Do you want to be well”—but the man goes back to his superstition. He believes that the only way to being well—that the only way to his joy, is through his means—the means that everyone else is going through.
How often do we do this? We think that we know the solutions to our problems. We think we know exactly what we need in our lives to fix everything… We pray to Jesus, asking Him to do what we know is going to be best for us… but the reality is that we are missing the whole point.
We sit beside our pools of superstition—anxious, and hoping someone will help us get what we want. We think that if we had more of a certain kind of person, or maybe just one person—that everything would be better. We think if we could get into a certain situation, or find one thing… or gain one thing… or achieve one goal, that we will be well…
And Jesus calls out to us: “Do you want to be well?” and we respond that all we need is ___________. And you can fill in that blank. We all have something that is keeping us down and depressed—that if Jesus asked us if we wanted to be better, we would know exactly what it would take to fix everything.
But Jesus doesn’t help the man into the water at all. He heals him. He tells him to pick up his mat and walk away.
Jesus doesn’t give us what we think will make us better. He heals us.
Jesus is our joy. He is our healer. We don’t need Him to change anything, take us anywhere—we just need to let Him be Jesus. Let Him be your joy. Let Him heal you. Don’t try to convince Him to fix your situation so that your life might look better—He knows that its all just superstition. The grass usually isn’t any better on the other side.
All we need is Jesus. He’s it. That’s it. That’s all there is—and He is more than enough.
And so, in the story, the man picks up His bed and walks. Let Jesus heal you with himself—not by giving into your solutions. Jesus helping the man in the water would do nothing—but Jesus speaking a word does everything. His words are life. Let Him speak to you.
Peace and love, friends.