Saturday, October 2, 2010

Love Letter #7: Loving for real

One of my constant prayers is: 'Father, direct me, guide me and order my steps'.  In order to gain a better understanding of God's direction, I read the scriptures every morning. It would be easy to pat myself on the back for my religious piety and miss the answer to my prayer. But, this morning, I was challenged by Jesus himself.
While I was reading through the book of John, He chastised the me and the pharisees:

'You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know you do not have the love of God in you.' John 5:39-42
Ouch! I don't have the love of God in me just because I search the scriptures? Let me look a little deeper....
When Jesus is saying this, He has just healed a sick man on the Sabbath, causing great controversy, because it was unlawful to heal on the Sabbath.
This set of scriptures is out of a dialogue where Jesus is establishing His divinity before the Jews. Jesus is not saying that the scriptures are void, but that He (Jesus) is the point of the scriptures. In the same way that the Sabbath was made for the good of man (Mark 2:23-27), the Scriptures were made for the benefit of the Christ.
The written word, the scriptures, point to the coming of a savior who will reconcile God's people back to Himself (John 5:46) and God who desires to forgive and redeem His people Lamentations 3:22-23.
So, back to the point of pain: I don't have the love of God in me just because I search the scriptures?
Not at all! Clearly, the scriptures have power in helping us to gain understanding, reveling the character of God and teaching us how to live (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We get into trouble when when we place our trust, our hope, in those things and people that are finite, rather than the eternal God who entrusts us with those finite things.
The Jews that were questioning the divinity of Jesus were fixated on the written law and the previous teachers of the law, so much so, when the giver of the law and life was before them, they could not see Him for who He was.
Immediately after He illuminated this truth to the Jews, he went to teach it again to His disciples through feeding of crowds on the Sea of Tiberias.
Lord, as we strive to be a love letter to the world that you would redeem, help us to see you more clearly so that we can have the love of God and not a false substitute.  Help us to believe, trust and hope in the totality of who you are, rather than the things we do for you or in your name, Amen.
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