LIGHT: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 ESV
SEEDS: In the first video session, Emily said, “This is not a new method, but a drawing near.” I (Cindy) was personally overwhelmed by the amount of scripture and the sheer volume of profound truth in the video lesson. But this is not new information. We are the children of God, if we belong to Christ.
Yet, just like Jesus told his disciples, “a new command I give you, ‘love one another,’” what we are being offered in this is simply a greater experience of being children of God. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 ESV
His disciples knew they were to love one another. That’s not new information. But just before he told them this “new command” he had gotten on the floor and done the work of a slave and washed their feet. Over the following hours, Jesus demonstrated a way of loving one another that was dependent on the Father. His love was not circumstantial. It was whole hearted. Whole life love. To the death and resurrection love. Like that, he said.
A new way of living will be to live as a child of God. One who truly embraces the call and authority of one who lives in the household of God. Not just somebody who was created by God and therefore bears his image – this is significant and true – but someone who embodies the grace and power and covenant love of the Father, because we receive his fatherhood.
There is some theological understanding necessary for this revelation to take place, sure. But no amount of reading and rereading the scripture will take the place of drawing near.
Jesus confronted the church-going people of his day, saying, “they look intently at the scriptures, yet they refuse to humble themselves and receive life from the Giver of life Himself.” “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 ESV
I admit my refusal to come for real life on a daily basis. Oh, I don’t say it, but I know in my heart when I’m choosing anything but deliberately looking to him for my peace, hope, and comfort. When I do that I am actually refusing to “choose life.”
What does that look like? Picking up my phone to check for notifications for the 72nd time, hoping there’s something online that thrills me in some way. Opening the refrigerator to stare at what I wish was there, hoping to satiate a hunger in my heart. Turning on the tv, the music, a podcast, looking for something to fill the space in my head, that is looking for knowledge, entertainment, distraction, or purpose.
When I look first to everything tangible for satisfaction, it does not really satisfy. When I look first to the invisible companionship of the Father, I am satisfied in his love, care, and abundance. Then the surrounding comforts, necessities, and occupations will be given significance and purpose.
When I turn to Father and confess my need for him, somehow pouring breakfast for my kids is not a noisy scene on the brink of disaster. It is where I have opportunity to share the abundance that we have because of God’s lavish care. My eyes are open to see little hearts who crave the same care and affirmation and peace my own heart needs, not just children vying for their favorite bowl.
When I consciously place myself as a disciple and daughter, I view my circumstances differently. My occupation is a place to see the kingdom of God at work, where I can look for his preeminence, even over network issues, godless coworkers, or impossible relationships. My children are young disciples, to walk with, learning together to hear the Father’s voice and obey. My spouse is a co-heir with Christ, and we can walk in purpose together as we follow Him, not competing, not acquiescing, but humbly and boldly belonging to one another and to the our Father, the King of heaven.
How would I live if these truths are my reality?
When I choose to deliberately abide in Him and joyfully accept my place at His table, it brings daily choices into greater clarity. What if, instead of counting all my resources (energy, income, talent, and knowledge) from what I can calculate from bank statements and personal inventory, I factored in the endless storehouses of God’s abundance?
I would step out in faith more often. I would give more freely. I would work harder. I would rest more fully. I would pray more faithfully. I would serve more lovingly. I would practice the gifts of the Spirit more expectantly.
Contributor Cindy Chen
DIGGING: 1. Read John 13:12-19. Remember that whenever Jesus says you should do something, He is saying that He has enabled you to do it in His Spirit. Therefore, in this passage, He is saying you CAN serve others in humility because He has washed you and made you clean. When you are not able to look at the people in your life with patience and compassion, go back to the Holy Spirit and ask for a clearer view of the abundance that God has given to you. Ask for help… for the Holy Spirit to enable you again to love them. Jesus never said that you should have already been able to love people apart from Him, but rather that His love and purposes WORKED OUT in you would lead to you loving others well.
2. What do you do on days where you can see that you do not have a healthy relating attitude towards others? Who do you turn to? Do you fall under condemnation and guilt? Do you hide and hope it goes away? Our feelings and relationships can be viewed as symptoms of our soul atmosphere, but don’t let them have more weight than God intended. Whatever happens, “I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Let’s learn to use our reactions and thought processes as signals to lean into God.
3. What are some of the things that you choose instead of coming to God for real life, as Cindy said? What are some ways you think you could get better at coming to God for real life daily instead of choosing lesser gods?
Contributor Emily Reep
CULTIVATING: In John 13:34, “I have loved you” is translated from the Greek “egapesa”. This same word is also used in John 15:9, John 15:12, Romans 9:13, and Revelation 3:9. Read these scriptures and write a summary of what you learn. In John 13:34, the word for “should love one another” is “agapate” which occurs 15 times in the following verses: Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-36, John 14:15-21, John 15:9-15, 1 Peter 2:15-17. Read these scriptures and summarize what you find.
Contributor Donna Hyatt
BEARING FRUIT: 1. Make a list of the people in your life that you believe God has called you to care for, to pour yourself out for. There are many different types of care. Make a list of any area in your life where you feel you are failing, not doing your best – areas where you are burdened by your perception of barreness. Surrender both lists to God. Ask Him to help you lay down what you don’t need to carry, to recognize His abundance so that you can respond to what He is doing.
2. Make a list of things from God’s storehouse that you want to see more clearly in your life. What do you want to receive from His abundance? “My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).
3. Echoing Cindy’s question, how would YOU live if God’s abundance and truth were your reality? Be specific!
4. Are there practical steps you can take today to get a little closer to Him? Memorizing scripture to fight against your fear? Setting aside a certain time of your day to fast or pray or set the tone? Reaching out to someone to pray for you? Reaching out to someone to extend care to them? Making a list of what is weighing down your heart so you can talk to Him about it and cast your cares on Him?
Contributor Emily Reep