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
February 13, 2015
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…” (1John 4:11)
The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10). He follows that with the words quoted above – that if God SO loved us we ought also to love one another.
Hours before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus challenged the men He apprenticed 24/7 for three years to love one another as He had loved them. He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples. Peter wrote that by His death on the cross He gave us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).
The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us yet another reason we are to love one another. In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in. Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world. The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.
If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would beat our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities because everyone has a need to be loved and to belong. The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given to His Church.
Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for His glory?
Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010
November 1, 2013
“… fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love… being of one accord of one mind. In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out… for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 2-4)
As Paul writes to his favorite church he is burdened that they experience oneness. He wants them to be “like minded…of one accord” and “of one mind.” To that end he gives them two keys to oneness.
One key is humility, what Paul calls “lowliness of mind.” He instructs and challenges the Philippians to esteem others better than themselves. C. S. Lewis told us that pride is the mother of all sins. As a pastor I learned that when there is a dispute among two disciples you will often find somebody’s pride at the bottom of it. Humility is an antidote that resolves disputes and restores oneness.
The other critical key is love. When Paul writes of “the same love,” I believe he means the love of Christ in us. At least one application of that love is when we “look out for the interests of others.” We might call this love “other centeredness.” We must realize and remember that this love is the fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit living in us. It is not natural. It is supernatural. We can’t do it. Only He can.
So, Paul’s keys for being like minded are humility and love. By application you will find his keys bringing oneness to your marriage, family, church, ministry and any relationship.
Our greatest challenges are relationships. I challenge you to insert these keys into your most challenging relationships and watch God bring oneness.
September 24, 2013
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… ” (Romans 1:18)
‘The wrath of God’ is the most unpopular phrase in the Bible. The best definition of this concept I’ve ever heard is: “The wrath of God is the annihilating reaction of a loving God toward that which is destroying His love objects.” Sin and unrighteousness destroys God’s love objects. God therefore hates sin because sin will destroy us.
If you are into history you know that many nations have tried to destroy the Jews. Modern nations like Nazi Germany applied a horrible genocide holocaust against the Jewish people. Nazi Germany was destroyed. I’m proud to be a citizen in a country that was one of many which were the vehicle of the wrath of God that destroyed Nazi Germany.
Throughout history nations that tried to destroy the love objects of God were themselves destroyed and the Jewish people are still here with us. Some ask if it is not inconsistent with the love of God for Him to express His wrath.
As a social worker one night I saw a loving father express great wrath toward a man who had raped and murdered his seven year old daughter. When that perverted rapist was brought into the police station it took every policeman in the station to hold that loving father down and keep him from trying to destroy the man who had destroyed his love object. You see, great love gives us the capacity for great wrath.
The original language tells us that God is love but He can cross over from love and express His wrath until He has completely destroyed what is destroying His love objects.