LOVING KINDNESS

IMG_0283My mind has been in a lot of different places since the last blog.  I have been thinking about resting in God’s loving-kindness.  But, how do you rest in a culture that only has two speeds:  break-neck and not getting enough sleep?  I have been thinking about learning to love others the way God has shown me to love.  But, how do you do that in a culture where ‘tweeting’ has become the core of our interaction?  I’ve been wondering what koinonia fellowship is truly like?  So with all of those topics rushing around in my mind over the past four weeks I have made a feeble attempt to connect them all.  Your comments are truly welcomed…

Our culture here in the good ‘ole U.S. of A. sure is a busy one.  I was watching a sporting event the other day and a commercial came on and asked the question:  “Guess what I got accomplished over the last five hours?”  The actor then proceeded to proclaim they had climbed a mountain; swam the English Channel and back; took first place in the World’s Origami Contest etc…   The idea is that more is better and the faster you can do more – better even still !

People run past one another and say:  “How ya doin’?”  Usually after asking that question they don’t wait for a response.  They continue walking their face-paced gait and probably don’t really care what the response might have been.

Many times Christians have learned how to use “God Talk” to mask their uncaring by casually saying:  “I’ll pray for you,” without a second thought for your need.

Thankfully God’s ways do not reflect our flawed and shallow view of life and relationship.  No, His idea of life is in the sharing of that life in “koinonia” fellowship or a joint participation of life that is held together by the bonds of love that come from God through His Son.  God is love.  God calls us; He invites us to live in His hesed or His loving-kindness.

Hesed is a Hebrew word used to describe God’s loving kindness that is focused directly on us.  Hesed is one of those things that our language just can’t get to.  This loving-kindness from God is deeper and richer than any English word has conceived.  The origin of this love is in a covenantal relationship; and, this love is forever firm and endures throughout all eternity.  “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken.” (Isaiah 54:10)

God’s hesed is so enduring that it persists beyond any sin or betrayal to mend brokenness and graciously extend forgiveness.  This is what our heavenly Father invites us into.  He invites us to be the recipients of His enduring loving-kindness.

I find it very interesting and securing that my heavenly Father seems to be an inviting God.  Throughout human history He has extended His invitations to participate in life with Him.  He came to Mary and invited her to birth His Son.  Christ Jesus went to the disciples and invited them to fish for men. The adulteress woman was invited to start over with her life.  Thomas was invited to touch the wounds of Christ.  Christ has gone to be with the Father and has prepared a place at the table for us and has invited us to come and join Him.  All of these invitations are driven by the loving-kindness God holds for us.

As I read the Scriptures it seems that one of Jesus’ favorite words is “come.”  “All you who are thirsty come and drink.”  “Come to me all, all of you who are tired and have a heavy load, and I will give you rest.”  “Come to the wedding feast.”  “Come follow me, and I will make you able to fish for souls.”  Come – one invitation after another to participate in life with Him.  A call to enjoy koinonia fellowship with the Savior.

God is a God that invites us to be reconciled to Him and one to another.  How else could one read passages found in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Matthew 5:23-26; Luke 17:3-10 and many, many more.

I don’t know what you are being taught at your church, or being told by your friends or family.  Quite frankly it doesn’t even matter what I say to you.  The standard of our behavior, our love one to another, is Christ Jesus and the clear instructions He gives in His word.  Regardless of what any man says or directs, it only matters how each of us responds to Christ as He calls us to come and to fellowship with Him.  He wants us to just be with Him.  Look at Mary and Martha.  The one that sat with Him was touted as having chosen wisely.  ‘Busy and more’ are not apparently better.  Certainly not better in the eyes of our Savior.  In fact, it seems to me that His standard calls for slowing down and resting in His hesed – coming to and resting in His loving-kindness.

What would it look like if you decided to slow down today and drink in the hesed of God?  What would if look like if you asked someone: “How ya doin’” and stood and waited for the answer.  And, if you heard the usual response “fine,” you then said… “Is that true?”  “Are you really doing well?”  You would get a strange look for sure.  But, you would also have the opportunity to tell someone how much you really cared.  You could show them the same type of love that you have received from the Father.

True intimacy in relationship requires risk, discipline and time.  The risk and discipline come in the forms of humility and obedient submission to His Lordship as we shape our lives into living sacrifices that are both holy and pleasing to our God.  Learning to live in His hesed isn’t easy and it will cost something.  But, learning to live in God’s loving-kindness is the foundation we all need to develop our skills in loving one another.  It is only as we pursue and learn to do these things that we will ever be able to enjoy koinonia fellowship.

For just a moment take a look at your life and wonder.  What would it look like to slow down and purposely marinate in the hesed of God?  What would need to change for you to show more of His love to those around you?  When might you consider beginning?  If you do this, people around you will act as though you are crazy.  Some might even look down on you because you are not ‘accomplishing’ as much as they think you should.  That’s part of what makes this hard.  But, the reward is an intimacy with the Creator that goes far beyond the approval of others.

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