May 18, 2019

Love One Another Is a Spiritual Directive (Easter 5)

Lucille and I have been re-reading Acts in our morning prayers and noticing that the Holy Spirit is constantly guiding the early church leaders. The Readings teach us that church communities glorify God when they are united and energized by the spiritual gifts of love, joy and peace. As we will see these communities are by definition exclusive, Biblically based, Christ-centred and Holy Spirit led.

1. “When he (Judas) was gone” (John 13.31)
So easily we slip over apparently unimportant words. Big mistake. Every word in the Bible is there for a reason.

·      Why does Jesus wait till Judas left the room?

  • ·      Judas did not love either Jesus or the other disciples
  • ·      Judas was a religious politician – his presence polluted the community spiritually and he excluded himself
  • ·      Community could not glorify God until everyone loved God and the others and had the gift of the Holy Spirit
  • ·      Revelation Reading gives us a list of those who defile a Christian spiritual community – cowardly, unbelieving, murderers, sexually immoral, magic, idolatry and all liars

2. I give “you” a new command
Who is “you” – The community of faithful believers who will not betray Jesus.

  • ·      Jesus is limiting His command to believers
  • ·      Jesus is not trying to change the world
  • ·      Jesus is creating a new spiritual kingdom of people who live temporarily in the world and obey its laws, but live spiritually or emotionally in a higher loyalty to the Kingdom of God
  • ·      Jesus knows how hard this will be so he commands self-sacrificial love as a norm for inclusion
  • ·      Persecution is coming and they must be able to depend on each other and Him / the Holy Spirit for strength

3. Building a community where people love one another
The community will not survive persecution unless everyone is seriously committed to belief in Jesus and the self-sacrificial love He modelled.

  • ·      Admission to membership is exclusive
  • ·      Admission is conditional on willingness to surrender “my way” for Jesus way
  • ·      Seekers not expected to be perfect – expected to be willing to receive teaching, put whole trust in Jesus, repent sins and ask Jesus for forgiveness
  • ·      Seekers need to be prepared for baptism and particularly the baptism of the Holy Spirit
  • ·      Receiving the Holy Spirit and gifts of love, joy and peace is a sign that someone is now part of the community

4. Agape Love is the first spiritual gift
Our first question when we are born is “Is this a safe place”? For many, sadly, it is not. Others have mothers and fathers who have overcome their natural fear and are able to love unconditionally.  These children develop the self-confidence and trust they need to overcome the obstacles of life. Others become beaten down by life and live by fear, manipulation and control.

  • ·      I have already shared my experience of growing up in a fairly critical and intellectual environment, getting into a marriage that was not life giving
  • ·      I only came alive spiritually and emotionally through the love of Lucille and my healing experiences of the Holy Spirit
  • ·      I learned that our personal spirit is what connects us intuitively to each other and God
  • ·      I have been very blessed by the self-giving love of the Anglican spiritual community at St. Cuthbert & St. Georges in Sundre, Alberta for over 20 years

God is glorified by the holiness, unity and self-giving love of His people when they gather for worship.

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