The Gospel of Go: Home is Who you Come Back To

John 14: The Many Rooms We Come To

14:3 “ And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

You know the way to the place where I am going.”

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Jesus the carpenter’s son, tells his disciples that he is preparing a place for them in His Father’s house. Because of this our hearts should not be troubled and can find courage that a place of rest and home awaits us.

After this, bad wrap Thomas, asks about the way to go and who the Father is. Jesus in a round about way tells Thomas that He is the way and is One with the Father. He also says in v.13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Non-genie Jesus states this in regards to our position not according to our preferences. Jesus is not saying I’m granting you wishes, He’s saying I’m refining your will. Asking is in accordance with the actions of Jesus and the activity of Heaven not according to the economy of the world.

Jesus reiterates the desire of the Holy Spirit to reform our wills by discussing what love looks like by obeying His teaching and leading. This activity creates within us, a union with God. Obedience leads us in renewed desires as we mimic the love of God the Father. Thus, what we end up asking for, happens to be the precise desire of God in a given moment. Our ask is no different from God’s will.

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But what does that really have to do with Going Somewhere and Home?

For one, none of us would know what “home” is, if we had not left it. Secondly, Jesus spends a lot of time in this chapter and the next and the next one after that, giving illustrations regarding the sense of home as being deeply intertwined with the God and the people you love.

He says this in His statement, “I am the Way to the Father.” Notice, Jesus doesn’t describe Heaven or what this home looks like. Instead, he discusses union and love for one another for the next 4 chapters in the Gospel of John.

And what does that have to do with Going Somewhere?

Jesus can leave this world and give us the Holy Spirit because He knows love and service in the Kingdom is not tied to location. He also knows the Kingdom itself at this moment is not tied to a location. This is meant to give comfort and courage for the commission. The disciples will also be able to go when He sends them after His resurrection.

Which is why I’m preparing to go. This weekend I take another step towards moving and following God. I’m going to look for an apartment so that in about 3 months time I can begin a new journey in full-time ministry. And as I take each step my fears are falling to the ground, as I try to stay convinced that like Jesus I might do, “exactly what my Father has commanded me.”

Which brings me to my last words, my faith requires me to fight through fears in order to follow. It requires remembering the call of God and trusting His direction of my steps.

When I go with God, I’m always going home.

 

The Betrayal and Denial Gospel: When you “Can’t” Control Yourself

John 13:18-38: Shared Bread

Psalm 41:9

 Even my close friend,
    someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
    has turned (lifted up their heel) against me.

The thing about betrayal, the thing about denial that allows both of them to deal damage is intimacy. Truth be told, I give as much credence to  ridicule or rejection from someone I don’t like or know as I give consideration to the amount of toilet paper I use after the second time I flush. If I have to flush twice, I care about being clean not about how much shit there was. If I am to be betrayed or denied “……^”

“That’s crude,” you say.

I say, “True and perhaps unnecessary, but I am far more willing to tolerate crude than cruel.”

To be crude is to have disregard toward or to jest about the outward appearance of things, whereas to be cruel is to have disregard for or the intent to harm the internal disposition of things.

Cruelty, whether intentional or not targets identity through apathy or vindictiveness. To be crude only considers the surface. It is intentionally unaware of depth. Cruelty either disregards depth selfishly or digs deeper than it needs to without care.

Now we can discuss betrayal and denial.

In John 13:18-30 Jesus announces that a disciple will betray him. And in this room full of men, John gives us insight into some of their personalities.

Scripture tells us in v. 21 that Jesus was troubled in his spirit and says, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” He is telling them this to strengthen their faith so they would believe in who Jesus says he is, but Jesus is still troubled by this.

John, who was reclining comfortably leans again Jesus to ask him, “Lord, who is it?” John does this because Simon Peter gives John a nod and says, “Yo, find out who.”

In this scenario, I kind of imagine John having a little too much wine. He was just looking to have a good time at the party. He’s chilling out and then Peter disrupts his chill and then he leans back and asks seemingly to appease Peter’s nervous curiosity.

Or is Peter not nervous, but rather seeking to prevent the betrayal by roughing up the betrayer?

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Jesus then gives a piece of bread dipped in wine to his betrayer Judas. V. 27 reads, “as soon as Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him” and v. 30, “he went out.”

Jesus also told him after he gave the bread, “What you do, do it quickly.”

What he says makes sense for a man to say. I say man because in my experience, if a person is going to betray me or reject me I’d rather you get to the point rather than drag your feet with the deal.

Being strung along just to be hung out is like taking your dog for a walk before killing it with a shovel and refusing to bury it.  What’s the alternative? Just take your dog for a walk or don’t betray someone. Be a quality person.

The Difference between Betrayal and Denial

I’m going to get to denial in a minute. But I want to define betrayal just so we are clear with the terms. Because someone can reject you or even go so far as to kill you without betraying you. For example, random woman I meet on the street finds out I’m awesome, kills me for no reason after greeting one another. She didn’t betray me, she certainly surprised me but nothing she did indicates a betrayal, unless we are strictly talking on an existential plain in which she betrayed mine and her own humanity for deciding at randomly to kill me.

This is me defining in long-hand that betrayal assumes a certain kind or level of intimacy and the greater the bond of intimacy the deeper the betrayal goes. For example, a marriage vow followed by adultery > (greater betrayal than) making a blood pact in 5th grade with your friend who stopped talking to you in middle school.

The action of betrayal is the willing handing of someone over or selling someone out, or intentionally tripping them up along their path. It is the moment while walking alongside someone with certain expectations, they hinder you from where you intended to go. Betrayal happens when one agrees to the parameters of the journey and then tries to hinder another from the journeys intended goal.

The Sting Without War

 

breaking_bread-2017Now for denial. Denial is sometimes the passive more weaselly of the two actions but typically without as severe a consequence. Denial is not stringing the noose, but it is watching someone be hung.

In v. 31, Judas had left, and now Jesus talks about His glory to come, his exit (death) and gives the disciples a command to love one another. He makes a statement that if true contains unimaginable power. V. 35 reads “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Rather than pausing and thinking about the implications of that statement, Peter is more concerned with where Jesus is going. And because Peter is weak and lacks understanding He misses what Jesus is getting at. Rather than going where Peter wants to go, Jesus wants Peter to be faithful to where He wants Peter to go.

Peter wants to die before he fully lives as Christ. In order for Peter to die like Christ, Jesus has a massive internal work to do first in Peter’s life. He asks this sincere question, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

…..

..

.

You know how it ends, Jesus predicts Peter’s inevitable denial. Sometimes we “can’t” (or just don’t) follow through on our best laid schemes. But here we actually are not looking at Peter’s denial just yet. That happens 5 chapters later.

This is Jesus’ denial. Jesus denies Peter’s ability to fulfill an empty promise without the power of the Holy Spirit. But Jesus’ denial has been immersed in prayer and preceded by demonstrations of genuine love. Jesus knows Peter’s end which is why He denies his intentions in the now.

Jesus says, “you will follow later.” The denial does not presume permanence, but it expects obedience. In other words, Jesus is telling Peter to “let it play out.”

It won’t be easy nor fun, but it will lead to perfecting and refining and new joy. But Peter is not that deep yet. Eager but not deep and unaware of what is required of him.

He is a fisherman, not a fighter and that is fortunate because the kingdom of God is not won in the way he is expecting.

Jesus cleans Peter a few verses prior and that cleansing functions as a reminder for what’s about to hit the fan in spite of his future denial.

 

 

 

 

Imagination Love

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The romance you require is rote

it is more stable than whimsical

perhaps more ideal and less physical

mine does not need to emote

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I confuse necessity with reality

whats real to me isn’t necessarily

ideal. These dreams proceed warily

the exact and fact don’t appeal to me

 

I’ve held onto every fiber of strain

telling those feeling parts to drop you

to find someone else to pursue

activities formerly absent of pain

 

I suppose my devotion to be a farce

or do I misplace hope like my keys?

should I be knocking in my knees?

or is the beloved just that scarce?

 

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This becomes an admission of icognisance

as I search your path for the obscure

leave me, a love relic and your lore

to be sent off from among the congregants

 

for my mistake might lie in tarrying

while my gaze is affixed to your bright

then your gaze locked in to my sight

found something within worth marrying

 

Are my mind tales better left earthen?

grounded under the dust of your feet

just stay and let your roots rest on me

while I’m willing to shoulder our burden

 

An observer may recognize my error

such affection need not be so weighty

what strong love bore for Lord and Lady

caused me to wait for one, none fairer

 

You entertain my vain imagining

until the intensity, then disallows

if only, if only we’d be held by vows

to prevent endings from happening

The Cleansing Gospel: My Favorite

Sufficiency

This currency of mine

it will lift you

like a house hung from a balloon

or a wife off her feet by her husband

This urgency of time

let it pass you

like the drive in a car to vacation

like angst before returning home

This destination is a comma

in the adventure

where nothing is left behind

as moments move us toward what’s whole

The past may have scratched

skipped the favorite part of your song

though it’s been pardoned in your present

buffered into tomorrow

and now your flawless to me

you’ve become my lens of love

as I’ve become your trade

My ambition is to be spent for you

My ambition is to be sent by you

to the store for groceries

to your room to fetch you something

to aid the family

to the earth until its end or my own

My yearning is to be mercy in your hand

My yearning is to glow in your eyes

to be a trust in generosity

to be evocative of Love

to be an advocate of you.

I give you my breath and my beat and my me

and I hope its enough.

I’m enough.

John 13:1-17: Love Cleans Up

The phrasing in verse 1 always moves me.

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

Then, Jesus shocks the system. The Divine touches the lowest part of our existence, to wash off wherever the disciples feet have tread. It’s absurd, yet Jesus insists. In the middle of dinner, he stops to clean the dirty:

No holiday, no meal, no moment in my life compares to the gravity of this moment with Jesus and his disciples. Furthermore, in this moment, Jesus washes the feet of someone who already decided to betray Him and what’s more, He knew about it.

Jesus took his hands just prior to being pierced and washed the feet of the man who sold Him out. He washed the feet also of Peter who debated with Him about whether Jesus should wash His feet.

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In verse 7 and 8 are more game changing verses.

“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

I could write a book on verse 7 alone, but I’ll settle for a paragraph or two for now.

How many times have you wondered what God is doing and why you don’t understand?

There have been times and seasons when I did not realize what was going on then and have often pleaded with God for understanding. Because I didn’t understand, sometimes, to my detriment I have said to God, “do not touch me,” which was another way of saying “I don’t trust you to fix this.” A wounded dog fears greater pain.

But Jesus’ response in verse 8 puts the emphasis on His actions, not Peter’s understanding. To take part in this love, Jesus says, “allow me to do this.” Jesus is cleansing where they have been and even where they are going, which makes the thought of Judas’ betrayal so heart wrenching.

I’m cleansing your feet yet where your feet are about to take you will carry us both to our death. For Jesus there was a resurrection.

After washing their feet Jesus closes in verses 14-17 saying, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet… Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Jesus often likes to end things with good promises. He likes us to be #blessed.

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But what makes us blessed is the way in which we share ourselves. You will be blessed if you wash one another’s feet, you will be blessed if you give your time and intimacy to God and if you share love with others. You will be blessed if you offer the gospel to your enemy. I hope I find my blessing in being able to relinquish my self-serving for the sake of Jesus Christ my Savior.

This is my endeavor and this is why I can’t shake taking a step of faith in this season of life. Jesus cleansing and the grace he gives, makes me enough. It is my reminder in my next footstep.

 

The Celebratory and Stinging Gospel

John 12:12-50: Where is your Worth?

The great irony and foreshadowing of this portion of chapter 12 is found in the crowd. A week before Jesus’ crucifixion a great crowd comes out to worship Him as king by laying palms at the feet of the donkey He rides on. Verse 16 tells us the disciples did not yet understand what was happening. Verse 19 tells us the Pharisees see the “whole world” is going after Him.

This celebration is a short section of verses in comparison to the worship Jesus receives in the birth narratives of Luke. Instead of drawing out this Palm celebration, John, the writer of the gospel, shifts his writing to Jesus talking about his death.

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It is a strange change of tone. A group of Greeks who came to town for Passover ask Philip if they can see Jesus and instead of entertaining them, Jesus decides to talk about the purpose of His death which is His glorification. He uses a farming metaphor, a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and remains a single seed unless it dies. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

He goes on to describe the individuals that choose to follow Him and what is required, the willingness to lay down their lives and to serve. On that individual, the Father will bestow honor.

Jesus reflects on his own troubled soul but shares his purpose in glorifying the Father. A voice from heaven responds. The crowd hears this voice as thunder, some thinking it was an angel.

Suffice it to say the conversation gets stranger as Jesus addresses various reasons people have for doubting. What John is displaying in the 2nd half of chapter 12 is Jesus drawing a line in the sand. There is light and there is darkness. Jesus has previously suggested that choosing human praise or human wealth in favor of the Kingdom of God is a choice for darkness.

 

 

Jesus-Contradict-John-12-JM2The reason He speaks is to show us the way of God the Father and urges his listeners to accept those very words. Accepting the Word brings one into the light. His Word is also meant to be the final say regarding ones worth.

But if Jesus’ word is so plain, why is it so difficult? Hardness instead of humility. The temptation to harden is sometimes hardly resistible. The challenge of celebration and sting is humility. When I my accomplishments are celebrated, do I stay humble? When I suffer rejection or hurt, do I save face and stay humble and accepting and loving.

The way to stay humble in the face of sting and celebration is through knowing our worth to God as created and beloved.

For you and I, we are worth more than our weight in gold, we are worth the weight of sin on the Son of God, He knew it then, He declares it now.

Of Memory and Momentum

What else dictates the pace of our lives more than what is held in these two words?

Memory, how I’ll define it is: the activity or process of recalling how one finds themselves in regard to current insight from past circumstances.

Momentum, how I’ll definite it is: the impetus or force within one’s current disposition that carries an individual in a specific direction.

I don’t know if those definitions are helpful, but they are definitions borrowed from my own perception of how I view those words in regard to pace of life, which I’ll also define.

Pace of life defined by Websters is used to refer to the speed at which changes and events occur

but I’d like to define it as: the time one endures to achieve their desired beginning or end in order to engage or fail to engage in the experiences they value.

Where does God fit in to this?

In part, God watches and intervenes for any who desires or asks.

And I have found these interventions welcome.

Luke 22:31-34

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

In this passage, Jesus’ words are true while Peter’s are filled with good intentions. And I would say, in the moment, Peter’s words are reasonable, and his actions during Jesus’ betrayal would implicate those words were sincere.

But what Peter failed to understand in a moment symptomatic of his memory and momentum is the question of: “What if I don’t intend for you to go with me to prison or to death?”

57dda2910aafcWhat if my memory sets an expectation for a situation in which God does not intend for me to use my momentum for? And what if my momentum is sidetracked by the creation of a new memory? And what if all these symptoms of self require a divine intervention?

Chances are these symptoms will require the divine, not because memory or momentum are evil, rather they are incomplete. They are not synonymous with faithfulness. And therein lies the difficulty, having a good memory or positive momentum does not make me faithful. It might help me accelerate the pace of life, but they do not make me faithful. Yet faithfulness, not high-efficiency productivity is what God is after.

When the Son of man returns, will he find faith on the earth, not will he find great accomplishments on the earth?

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Today, I had a bad day, (I haven’t had many of those in the past 3 months) I was stressed at work, anxious about changes that will happen, frustrated about changes that haven’t happened despite “hard work”, my memory threw every good and bad significant experience to the forefront of my mind, while my momentum has been forward moving and through it I heard the voice of God asking me:

What do you want, and what do you think I want? 

I want fullness of life in Christ and all that comes with it, and I know God wants all of me including my memory and momentum whether good or bad. I believe the word faithfulness works well to sum up what God wants in regard to memory and momentum because of the way it is translated in Greek.

The Greek word Pistos also means reliable. Memory and momentum are helpful insofar as their reliability in my pursuit of following Jesus. If they feed my fears or apprehension, those two things have become unreliable setters of pace.

Faith sets pace in place of fear.