love

Do You See This Woman?

Do You Have Eyes Like Jesus? Do You See This Woman?

Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” John 9:40

Some people wonder what Jesus meant when he asked: “Do you have eyes, but fail to see?” The Pharisees, of course, thought they had better eye sight than anyone; so good they could see every sin in the world; they were experts in seeing the sinner in the crowd. Perhaps that was the very thing that caused them to be blind?

When Jesus looked upon the people of his day, he didn’t see ‘sinners’, rather, he saw the lost sheep that God so loved he sent Jesus into the world to rescue. Jesus looked upon people with a different perspective than the Pharisees:

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

When Jesus was invited to dinner in the house of a prominent Pharisee named Simon, their dinner was interrupted by a woman, so touched by her interactions with Jesus that she fell to his feet and covered them with tears, and wiped them with her hair. What did Simon see? He didn’t see what God wanted him to see; he was blind to the very work of God. Simon’s perspective was this:

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39

Simon saw the sinner; but he didn’t see the woman. He put her in an inhuman category in his mind, that allowed him to cast his judgment upon her without consulting his heart, or the heart of God. But Jesus was different, he didn’t see the sinner; he saw the woman. He saw the true person, not the pain and corruption that life had pulled her into. He saw the child. He saw the one he came to rescue. The woman, now set free, was overflowing with thankfulness. Heaven was erupting with joy and dancing. God was rejoicing – but Simon missed the whole thing. Jesus asked him: “Do you see this woman?”

Do you see this woman? Do you see this man? Do you see them as lost sheep? Do you see them as the very reason Jesus came? Do you see God’s plan for restoration? Do you see the pain they are in? Do you see their need for love? Or do you see the sinner? Jesus words ring in my heart all the time: “Do you see this woman?”

It’s easy to see the sinner, but do you see the person? Do you see the lost sheep that belongs to God; that God came to find? Do you see the lost sheep, helpless and harassed, like a sheep without a Shepherd?

Simon, the Pharisee who was the host of the party, was blind to the miracle; he had eyes, but he couldn’t see. He only saw the sinner, he saw her sins, he saw her past, but he didn’t see what truly counted; he couldn’t see the unfailing love Jesus had for this woman. He couldn’t see the acceptance Jesus offered her. He couldn’t see how the love of God had led this woman into freedom. He missed it all, because what we saw was ‘a sinner’. What he was blind to was the transaction that had happened in this woman’s heart through the love and kindness of Jesus.

The multitudes were amazed at how Jesus multiplied a few loaves of bread into a feast for 5,000 people by the miracle hand of God, but the woman who cried at the feet of Jesus, washing his feet with tears of joy, was far more amazed at how Jesus transformed her heart through his love and grace. A transformed heart and life, that is received freely through the grace of Jesus, is the greatest work of God there is.

When we see people the way Jesus sees them, then we truly do see. Love is the eye sight of God. Love is his opinion of everyone. Love is his way. Rescue, salvation, reconciliation and new life is God’s agenda. For Jesus came, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through himself. We serve a king who saves. A king who loves.

Let us also see those who have not yet met him as the lost sheep whom our great Shepherd is seeking to save, and by the unfailing power of his love, will do just that.

Love will outrun everything else. When every other negative act and emotion has fallen to the waste-side, exhausted and empty of energy, love will continue. Love is built to last.

Language Of Love

Understanding Our Heavenly Father’s Language Of Love

I’m a writer. I like words. I like the power they have to convey a message. I like communicating with words.

Something I’ve realized since becoming a father, is when it comes to communicating with my daughter, I don’t use words. I use love.

What a wonderful thing that is, when love is our language to one another!

My mastery of the English language is not important in our relationship. If I depended on it to communicate, I don’t think she’d ever understand the message I’m trying to share. But she does understand me. Because I communicate with love, and that is a language she already can understand very well.

Sometimes I use words, of course. But these words in themselves are not important, it’s the way I say them that gives them worth. It’s the facial expression I make, it’s the love I express within them, that’s what my daughter picks up.

I think the language of love is God’s way of communicating with us too. We are, after all, his babies. He may use words from time to time, after all we do have the Bible, but the words themselves are not what’s important, it is the Spirit that is behind the words. The Bible, without understand God’s language of love, can cause as much condemnation as when I speak words to my daughter without love. Instead of finding rest in my presence, she would become insecure. She would ‘feel’ daddy doesn’t love me.

I think we need to listen directly to God’s Spirit within us. This to me is his primary way of communication. It’s direct, personal and it is spoken through heaven’s language of love. When it comes to understanding the Bible, it’s easy to forget this and just read the words as they are, without remembering the reality of God’s love. It helps us greatly when we read God’s words like our own little babies hear our words. Through the lens of unfailing love.

The Apostle Paul said it this way:

“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant —not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6

Words, just as words, are useless in my communication to my daughter. If she doesn’t actively feel and experience the spirit of love I’m sharing them with, they are just another foreign sound. Or worse, they could make her afraid. But thank God that is not the case, for love is abundant in my heart for her. Love is the first thing that happens when I see her. Love is the first response when I think of her. It is my love, not my words, that sustain our relationship. I think it’s the same way with my heavenly Father.

I feel so blessed that I can communicate with my daughter in heaven’s language. The language of love – just like my Daddy does with me!

We Don’t Overcome Fear With Courage, We Overcome Fear With Love

Here’s the thing: Everything God has done is about you. All of it. The whole creation. The whole work of salvation. Everything – it’s all for you. God loves you in such a cosmic sized way that he did everything perfectly on your behalf, so you could rest perfectly in his love.


overcoming

This is what empowers us to overcome our fears, not by stirring up courage, but by resting in God’s love for us. It is because God perfectly loves you that he made nothing depend on you in order to receive his love in its entirety. This is the good news we believe in, and it truly is good news, for the reality that no one can ever steal God’s perfect love from us and none of our own weakness & failings can ever forfeit it for us produces a solid rock foundation for our lives. When we can rest in this truth, we also can overcome fear. Not by our efforts, but because fear itself is driven out wherever perfect love is. When we let the truth of God’s perfect love for us abide in our hearts and minds, then by this belief, fear is driven out of our hearts and minds too.

Courage is a great thing. We all want to be courageous. We all want to be fearless. But sometimes (or often) we can find ourselves full of fear. In these moments when fear grips us, it seems right to think what we need find some courage in the situation. But courage is a result of something deeper that we first have to discover – and that is the reality of God’s perfect love for us. Fear is overcome through understanding, accepting and actively enjoying the reality that God’s love for you is unending, perfect and never changing.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.1 John 4:16

The good news is that we can completely rely on God’s love for us, and therefore completely find our rest in it. Yes, that’s right, we can 100% rely on his love for us. It is not about how much you can love God, or show him you love him, or do things for him. It’s not about your faithfulness, your abilities, your passion or your servitude. It’s all about how God adores you as his beloved child. That’s why it’s not about your works at all.

It is through seeing and believing this that produces a fearless life. Peace in our hearts is the fruit of believing in God’s love for us.

Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Nothing. Not a single thing. There is nothing more secure in the entire universe, nothing more secure and unchanging, than God’s perfect love for you. This is not me trying to give you a pep talk, this is the gospel truth. As the Apostle Paul said:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

If you feel fear in your life, remind yourself of God’s unfailing, perfect love for you. If you don’t understand it, ask God for a revelation of his love. He will show you. He is already wildly in love with you, and when our hearts are open to receive a bigger revelation of God’s love, I believe he finds great pleasure in giving it to us. Let the eyes of your heart see God’s love for you. Become fearless; believe in God’s love for you passionately.

They’ll Know You By Your Love: But What Is Love?

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

love

It’s amazing that God, in flesh and blood, would speak to us about how others in the world will know that we belong to him, follow him, and have an active relationship with him.

They will know it by seeing love in our lives.

It is a wonderful thought, but what is love? We often think about love as a work; good works that we do. But good works can be done out of duty and with little or no love. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post the Apostle Paul, a huge ‘doer’ testifies that if we, as Christians, do, do, do, but the doing is not done with love, it’s worth nothing. (Pretty big statement he made there, huh?)

So if love is not the ‘doing’ of things, what is love?

Maybe love isn’t recongnised by what we do, but rather, it is seen through what we don’t do.

Perhaps living a life of grace that doesn’t judge people or think bad of people speaks the language of love louder than we think? When I think of God’s love for me, and how he shows me his love, I’ve come to realise that often the most powerful way is through all the things he doesn’t do.

Below are some of the ways I see God’s love shining through all that he doesn’t do:

God doesn’t judge us.
He doesn’t think bad about us.
He doesn’t blame us.
He doesn’t gossip about us.
He doesn’t reject us.
He doesn’t leave us.
He doesn’t forsake us.
He doesn’t get angry with us.
He doesn’t talk negatively to us, or about us.

So much of what God doesn’t do reveals in such a powerful way what he does do: He love us

If we want to be known as disciples of Jesus, we don’t need to recite bible verses to the world, we just need to allow the love of God to be living and active in our lives, and let it overflow in our relationships with one another.

Love. It’s the nature of God, and the light that reveals him to the world around us.

The Kingdom Of Love Is Within You

In the midst of Jesus sharing with the disciples the amazing revelation of love’s power, and the amazing privilege that we can live in God’s love, he also makes a statement that I’m sure caused the disciples to go a little cross eyed in confusion. He said:

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 1 John 15:6

So what does this mean? Where is the burning happening? Well, let’s ask another question before we answer that. Where is the kingdom of God? According to Jesus, the kingdom is within us. It is in this kingdom he invites us to live in, for we can all rest, abide, and truly live in this love, and that love is with us. Yes, that glorious, divine love is within us; it is like the air we breath in the world around us. We need God’s love to live in God’s kingdom; it’s impossible to live in the kingdom of God without it, just as it’s impossible to live in this world without oxygen. Without love, we dry up.

Reading this scripture in context to the whole conversation, I believe Jesus was creating a visual picture to help the disciples understand the importance of remaining in his love. I believe he is explaining to all of us a divine reality that staying in God’s love keeps us out of self-righteousness. Staying in God’s love keeps us from pointing the finger; instead, it offers those in need a helping hand. Staying in God’s love keeps us from having eyes that look down upon people; instead, it keeps our eyes lifted high upon the finished work of our Lord and the abundant provision of God’s love and grace.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Jesus explained if the disciples didn’t remain in his love, they could do nothing. If God is to work his graceful truth through us, we need to remain in his love, because if we are not remaining in God’s love, then we are no longer a vessel of grace. God doesn’t need voices of judgment in the world; he needs children who remain in his love, who allow that place of love to be their home, and allow God to overflow that love into the world around them.

It helps to think of this spiritual reality in the visual Jesus presents us. If we don’t stay in the love of God, then we will find ourselves outside the kingdom, dried up spiritually, empty of grace and burning in our own self-righteousness. Of course, I’m not talking about losing your salvation, but rather about losing the benefit of living in the kingdom of God now. Everything is about love. In fact, although there are many things important to our lives as believers now, love is the only thing that is going to last forever.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Love is eternal; love keeps on going, even when we enter into the new creation. Even when we no longer need all the other elements of our current faith, we will still need love. For love is the very nature of God, and in the new creation it will be the very nature of all of us; it seems at present we can decide ourselves to remain in God’s love, or live religiously outside, burning in self-righteousness. One thing is clear: Love is God’s way of living, and love will live forever in glory.

The kingdom of Love is already within you. It will carry on into a literal kingdom in the new creation, but it’s a place we already live now in our spirit. Breathe in love, exhale love. Let God’s love be the very thing that sustains you and gives you life. Apart from Love you can do nothing, but with Love at work within you, nothing is impossible.

You can also read part one of this post here.