April 16, 2016
“Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.” (John 13:1)
Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles. Luke writes that on the way to the upper room where they were to celebrate the Passover the apostles argued about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised. What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!
Having washed their feet Jesus asked this question: “Do you know what I have done to you?” The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus is love. He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.
He also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example. If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each others’ feet. Then He made the connection between feet washing and love by giving them the New Commandment. They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them. This is the absolute credential that they were His disciples.
A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment. Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus but now they were to make a commitment to each other. This new commitment established a New Community. We call it the church. The secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!” If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence to convict us?
Oh Lord make it so!
Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012
October 11, 2013
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
The third level of commitment to Christ is identified by the preposition “for Christ.” Paul concludes that when we understand all that we have available to us “by Christ,” and we fully appreciate what it means to be “in Christ,” we are therefore ambassadors “for Christ.”
Paul writes:“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18) According to Paul, everyone who has been reconciled to God by Christ has been given the message and the ministry of reconciliation. This means every believer is a minister. The seventh beatitude “blessed are the peacemakers” is another way of saying the same thing. As conduits of God we should plead with people to be reconciled to God.
There is another application to this third level of commitment as demonstrated by the legendary missionary David Livingstone. On one very hot day in Africa, he faced a stream he had to cross. Holding his gear over his head he waded through sewer-like water that had a terrible odor. Covered with decayed plant life up to his chin, when he reached the other side he laid down his gear. Falling prostrate on his face, David Livingstone cried out, “Father I thank you for the privilege of going through this putrid jungle stream for You!”
I was once asked as a pastor to visit a missionary couple who returned after 48 years in China without any welcome or appreciation. Although living in tenement housing and in poor health, they were in wonderful spirits. When I inquired about their attitude they said, “You have to know Who you are doing it for.”
Do you know Who you are doing it for?
October 1, 2013
“And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18 KJV)
In the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians we find one of the most profound passages of Scripture in the New Testament. In this chapter we have a window into the heart of the Apostle Paul as he writes about what motivates him. It is a passage that clearly defines the Gospel. Paul gives us here the vision absolutes that defend why he lived like a madman. He then clearly writes that every believer who has been reconciled to God by Christ has been commissioned with the message and the ministry of being a peacemaker and a minister of reconciliation. The passage concludes with a very clear description of the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
This profound passage also describes three levels of commitment to Jesus Christ that are identified by prepositions. In the verse quoted above the first ‘entry’ level of commitment to Christ is described as Paul uses the preposition “by Jesus Christ.” We are saved “by Christ.” When He saves us He often fills our life with good things the way He filled Peter’s boat with fish (Luke 5: 1-11). It doesn’t take us long to realize that the changes taking place in our lives are by Jesus Christ. We also discover there are many things we can only do by Jesus Christ.
Study this passage (verse 13 through 21), and see if you can identify two more levels of commitment to Christ. What are they and what would they look like if you applied them to your walk with Christ?