but even if…

The Us in Jesus

“When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” John 14:20-21

As I type this my trusty new sidekick, Walker, is lying right beside me. Our family wasn’t sure if we were ready for a dog, but in the really cool way God seems to work things out, this little guy waddled his way into our home and hearts. Walker is seven-years-old and was well-cared-for before coming to live with us, so he was a little reserved and uncertain at first. But as I showed Walker that he could trust me to provide for him, he showed me that I could count on him too. Because he was willing to trust me, our relationship grew stronger. I began to notice that he genuinely was happy to see me and wanted to be with me and I feel the same way about him. It’s love.

And it’s this kind of mutuality that God has been impressing upon me—the deep bond and connection that forms when two hearts trust and love each other unconditionally. Perhaps the relationship began—as most do—with a tentative, “What’s in this for me?” A baby first looks to his mother for milk. A woman first looks to a man for companionship. We may first look to God for safety, comfort, provision—for what He can do for us. We begin with a sort of “if you… then I… and if I… then you… ” approach. (We have biblical company in this… consider the stories of Abraham, Jacob and Moses as a few examples.) But it starts to get really good when we surrender our agendas and all that’s left is love. “If you… then I,” is replaced simply by “I will love.” And everything else flows out of that love.

This series will be looking at John 14:15-31 and having some fun with words. Notice the language in the passage above doesn’t use conditional statements of if/then, but shows the union made possible by love. Jesus is in the Father. We are in Jesus (the US in Jesus) and He is in us. We experience His unfailing, unconditional love; we establish trust (there’s an US in trust too). Inspired by the love my little brown-eyed dog has shown me this week, I leave you with this thought for the day: When we trUSt Jesus, the focus isn’t on U and I (going it alone), but in the U-n-I… UnIon… of the US in JesUS. Oh, and in case I haven’t lost you yet, DOG spelled backward is…

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What the world beLIEves

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you… Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me.” John 14:17, 19

Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”John 14:22

Judas may have been the first to ask this question, but he certainly wasn’t the last. I’ve heard it asked, how can a loving God not give everyone a free pass into heaven? The question implies we somehow feel entitled. This sense of entitlement goes all the way back to the garden of Eden, when the serpent convinced Eve that God was holding out on her. Let’s look at the word beliEVE from Eve’s point of view: she beLIEved a lie. And this lie, that we should be equals with God, that we can independently do just fine without Him, is the reason the world at large cannot see God: It isn’t even looking for Him. Many won’t see him until He comes in glory with the clouds and “every eye will see.” (Rev. 1:7)

Until that day, the only way for the world to see Him is through the I’s (eyes) of those who are “in ChrIst,” who belIeve the truth, even though they have not seen Him (with their eyes). I’m hesitant to focus on the letter I, but consider this: The I in Independence puts the LIE in beLIEve, but if your eyes are on Christ, then your I is in ChrIst… and others watching will see and belIeve. It will totally rearrange their world so they… will BE & LIVE.

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Find your true ID: Confide with ConfIDence; Be with to oBEy

“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. He 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. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:23-26

I’d not thought of faith as confidence until God recently highlighted it for me. Sometimes a word like faith that we use so often can lose its punch, so along comes confidence to give it a boost. In this passage, Jesus essentially tells His deciples they could have confidence in His teaching because His words come from the Father. Peter spoke of the “even greater confidence” he had in the words of the prophets after witnessing the transfiguration (2 Peter 1:18-21).

Likewise, we can have greater confidence in the words of the bible because we’ve been given a friend, a counselor–a confidant–in the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit confides (defined as: to reveal by imparting secrets ) in us, our CONFIDEnce/faith increases. And as our faith increases so does our love… we want to BE with (abide) Jesus more, which is really all it takes to oBEy–just be with, walk with, talk with–love Him. Final thought for the day: If our ID (identity) comes from our confIDence in ourselves, it will come and go (indepeDENT iDENTity = DENTed, broken, not confiDENT). But as we confide in the Holy Spirit, nothing can put a dent in our faith when our ID stems from our confidence of being rooted in Christ.

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grACE and peACE

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” John 14:27-29

I’ve been having some fun playing with words this week (perhaps to ad nauseam… for more on this, see the excellent post by my friend Lesa), so you can imagine how pleased I was to have the Holy Spirit reveal the ACE in grACE and peACE. Ace means one. Jesus, the embodiment of grace and peace, was the one–our “Ace in the hole,” so to speak. The meaning of this phrase is: Something or Someone that can supply a sure victory when revealed–how perfect is that? Some other great definitions of ace, all applicable to our Lord: A serve that one’s opponent fails to hit (nice try, Satan), the act of hitting a ball in the hole with one’s first shot (it’s Finished!); An expert in a given field; Top-notch; First-rate; To get the better of someone (heh); To receive a perfect grade; To perform with distinction on.

Yep, Jesus truly is our ace, truly our grace–and in His own words above–gives us peace. Oh, let our HEARts have EARs to hEAR and believe hIS (he who was IS, and IS to come) promISes (the way it really IS).

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The Defeated prince of Wince

“I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.” John 14:30-31

I don’t really care to give the dEVIL a lot of face-time. I figure since he’s really into himself, he probably likes it when we talk about him—you know like an attention-starved kid who’ll take any attention, even negative attention. But I’ll mention him briefly because I think totally disregarding him in a “he-who-must-not-be-named” sort of way is a mistake too. Like it or not, there is a battle going on and we are living on the battlefield. If we don’t acknowledge that we have an enemy, how can we fight him? I think too many times, we end up fighting ourselves or each other instead.

The above translation calls him the “prince of this world,” which sounds too regal to me… more like the “prince of wince.” The original Greek is “archo,” which is commonly translated “ruler.” Jesus tells his disciples the ruler of this world (and this world only) is coming. What Jesus says next gives us insight in handling attacks: 1) Recognize and acknowledge that, as children of God, Satan has no hold on us, no power over us; 2) Demonstrate our love for the Father to the watching world by remaining faithful and standing strong—even in the midst of a trial; 3) Moving on with life (rather than letting the strongholds of fear, depression, bitterness, etc. immobilize us).

The enemy has been defeated! So come now, let us leave.

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