Truth and Trust – John 14:2

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.” John 14:2

I know I’ve quoted this passage before, but for other reasons. Tonight I just want to sit with that beautiful truth that Jesus is trustworthy. What he says is reliable. It might be difficult to understand, mysterious, and a great many other things, but it always turns out to be reliable.  Somehow, to me, that ‘if it were not so, I would have told you,’ has always moved me, and drawn me into wanting to lean into him and to what he has to say. Not only is he telling us the truth, he’s telling us the whole truth.

How do I know for sure? Well, what I do know is that from experience, what I’ve learnt from him tends to prove to be more true the longer I live. Things I thought I knew when I was 20 turn out to be often the wrong end of the stick, but things Jesus has taught me I often need to learn again, perhaps at a deeper level, and they turn out to be more true.

I remember doing my RE homework at school and we were covering something from the old testament about sacrifice. I recall thinking about the animals that were used for temple sacrifice, and how followers were called to lay down their lives in an ongoing, daily way, and I remember my thoughts running ahead into the idea that it’s like in that ongoing submitting to God we’re a living sacrifice. Then of course I realised that the phrase ‘living sacrifice’ was one God had already come up with, but it was fun coming to it fresh, and feeling the pleasure of understanding it thoroughly.

However pleased with myself I was at the time, I had no idea how hard it might be in future to actually live that way; knowing from experience is very different sort of knowing.  For example, all the sacrifices I ever made to Status, thinking a particularly well designed rucksack would change my life, for instance(!), or keeping people happy at the expense of my own health or God’s will, all those sacrifices left me with awkward reminders of how gullible I could be. Now I really understand and trust Jesus’s words about possessions and real life.

When I see people trying to stretch the reality of the world to fit around a belief they can’t bear to un-hold, I find it nearly unbearable. I really have to restrain myself from being quite aggressive with them. Maybe it’s because I’ve had run-ins with that monster in the past (not the green-eyed one; I wonder what colour this one would be?) When a truth is uncomfortable it’s even more important to acknowledge it. It’s so hard to do in the moment, isn’t it? But watching someone else warp reality around their blockage is just horrible.

John writes about not stumbling around in the darkness but walking in the light. Amen to that. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7). Jesus was the master of walking in the light, and as a result he could offer complete fellowship to others. Even at the ‘last supper’ he was transparent with his friends. Some were not so with him – namely Judas – but Judas was completely transparent to Jesus.

I want to be able to deal with conflict and problematic conversations in this way; that I do not allow fear to tempt me to distort reality around a blockage in my mind or relationships. This is another moment when I’m so aware I’m not up to it on my own but need God’s help.

Father, please help me see clearly, and live clearly, and be one whom others can trust.

Advertisements

All In; More Out – John 15:13-16

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” – Jesus, quoted in gospel of John 15:13-16

A little punnet of blackberries
A little punnet of blackberries

These words of Jesus blew me away today. They floated down on a piece of paper out of a Bible in our prayer chapel; a few lines printed on a slip of paper that someone had tucked inside one of the Bibles.

They were so relevant to what was running through my mind. Purpose and calling; sacrifice and pleasure. It’s all there.

There’s no denying what a hard invitation this is: lay down your life. But then the rest of the context hits you: Jesus, God, considers himself your friend, and you are his.

And I love this: “EVERYTHING I learned from the Father I have made known to you.” Reading that again tonight, it’s as if i never noticed that was in the Bible before. What an extraordinary thing for us to know, that of all the mysteries of Jesus’s interactions with his Father, all that he gleaned he taught his followers (and commanded them to make disciples and teach them).

Whatever vocation we might feel in life, whatever calling, we cannot outgive God.

If it seems like God demands a lot, it’s only because he knows what he can do with laid-down lives like that – he can bring incredible fruit, that isn’t going to rot on the tree but will be eternal. What a legacy!

Jesus doesn’t sugar-coat it. When he asks for people to join his team, he doesn’t minimise the investment. It’s the investment the pig makes to the ham sandwich, not the investment of the cow to the cheese sandwich. (Credit: Pope Francis!)

This is the offer: if we want to be in, let’s go all in; and in return Jesus is promising this: a life lived with God, full of revelation, lived in emotionally close partnership with him, and a guaranteed return on the investment.
It strikes me that is a picture of two parties fully invested in a cause; but God will always be the bigger shareholder; because how could he not be? He is the author and perfector of our faith; our creator and redeemer; the one who knows the end from the beginning. If we fear giving our all, we can remember that God is not just matching our donation, but exceeding it in every way.

.

I’m back – ‘Freely you have received, freely give’ Matt 10:8

‘Freely you have received, freely give.’ (Matthew 10:8)

Sorry if you’ve been missing my posts. I was enjoying two weeks of rest at two Christian summer festivals with a chance to retreat, worship, enjoy and serve. Turned out it was in that order. One week with a lot of resting and some serving: the next week with a little resting and a lot of serving. But the gaps where I was able to receive were like surgical strikes from God – just what I needed and no opportunity wasted.

I got a chance to really experience serving out of rest. The challenge is to do the same back home with my normal responsibilities. The knowledge of it in my head – the theory –  seems very secure, but putting it into action is what matters.