Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Pondering the Jesus Creed
Last week an online group of friends and acquaintances decided to try reading and discussing the book,'40 Days Living the Jesus Creed' by Scott McKnight. Once a week, I will try to post some of the thoughts and reflections I've stumbled upon, so feel free to comment, challenge and help me work through this process. The basic premise of the 'Jesus Creed' is...
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:30-31
What do you think of this creed? Do you think there are people that actually live this way? Would you or wouldn't you consider living by this creed?
The Most Important Commandment:
"Hear, O Israel; The Lord or God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." Deut. 6:4-5
Repeating a prayer, creed or being consistent in any of the many prayer practices has always been a challenge to me. In fact, the first chapter of the Jesus Creed got me thinking and feeling the challenge of consistency. That aside, though I feel that having been given permission to dwell on this creed for the next 40 days or so is doable. I think perhaps after I get over the consistency issue, I feel as if I can relax as this is not a test I'm cramming for, but a practice that I am to live and breathe into on a daily basis. I could really use some spiritual breathing room right now.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength." Mark 12:30
I've always been drawn to practices that address the holistic needs of each person. It's not just my mind, but my heart and soul and strength that needs to be supported, challenged and given over to God. Breaking down each aspect was important for me as I think most in terms of this and that. Slowing down to focus on one aspect at a time made me consider the greatness of God's love for us. All those areas, all those lives - God cares about each and every corner of each and every one of us, and continues to love us. Imagining love like this is like be caught up in a wave when body surfing; it turns everything you thought you knew upside down and inside out and almost drowns you in its depth and power.
As I look at each piece of this prayer, I feel like it is allowing me to wade into the depth of God's love without being washed away by it.
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:31
Once someone suggested to me that this sentence should end with, ...as Jesus loved." Somehow, I think the reason it isn't written that way is because that would seem impossible to even attempt. Yes Jesus example of loving humanity was impeccable, but daunting. By ending this command with the words, "...as yourself.", the reader is immediately drawn into the story. People come to mind, the way we treated a friend comes to our memory and we see room for improvement knowing that love is what brought us to this place to begin with. Yes may I love like Jesus, but may I love and reach out in a way that is unique to my circumstances, geography, and gifts. We all have a unique story to tell.
"Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7b-8
The words here really struck me.
'The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace."
I think about the face of God, the warmth expressed in this blessing and find myself wishing I could paint this amazing picture.
How often my reactions to others are not based in love and I'm greatly challenged by that fact. Yet in this blessing I sense there is room the God's gracious love to better learn how to live this love out a little more each day. I feel that resting in God requires us to say,
"Wow, I'm not living in love in this area. God will you shine yourself in this space so that I better see what change or difference you desire. Shine your spotlight over here, so the darkness of brushing it off or away isn't a temptation for me. Help me not to fear your light reaching into my darkest corners."
Pondering the more important commandment carried me through the first week of reading, "Living the Jesus Creed" by Scott McKnight. I even asked my kids in Sunday School this week what they thought the greatest commandment was. They shouted out: prayer, communion, and reading the Bible before they settled on love. Love seems to be the instinctual response, but sometimes wanting the 'correct' answer pushes us away from our instincts. I think the Jesus Creed is instinct, one we may have pushed off into a corner under all our do and don't lists, but instinct none the less.
I hope through this 40 day process I can begin to seek out this instinct in my own heart, dust it off, and allow it to be the hook I hang my heart, soul, mind and strength on for good.