Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 8 – The Impossible Challenge

Over the first seven days, we’ve looked at the first of the six relationship principles of Jesus in Tom Holladay’s book, The Relationship Principles of Jesus.

Relationship principle #1 - Place the Highest Value on Relationships

Over the course of the first week we learned the importance relationships by studying the two greatest commandments found in Mark 12: 29-31
1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
2. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

In the second week of our study, we will discuss the second relationship principle of Jesus:

Relationship principle #1 - Place the Highest Value on Relationships
Relationship principle #2 – Love as Jesus Loves You

In the final days leading up to his crucifixion, Jesus began to prepare with disciples for what was about to come. In John 13, Jesus gathered his disciples together for a meal prior to the Passover feast and before feeding them, Jesus washed their feet in a symbolic example of how they, the disciples, should care for one another after His death. In performing this menial task that was typically reserved for a servant, Jesus emphasized that no one was above the call to selfless service to a person in need. Jesus went on to give his disciples a third commandment.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” - John 13:34

The key here is the second half of that verse. Not only does Jesus expect us to love our fellow Christians, He expects us to love them with the same passion and humility that he showed his disciples, not only that night, but over the entire course of His ministry. I think putting this verse in the context of Jesus’ actions that night shows again that He was not referring to love in an emotional sense. This command tells us to care for one another’s needs, to humble ourselves to serve one another, and forgive as He forgives us.

I think Tom aptly gave this chapter the correct name. As he points out, Jesus didn’t treat us like we tend to treat our children. He didn't tell us to simply do our best or to give 110%. Jesus didn’t say love as much as your pastor loves you. He didn’t say make sure you at least love as much as your friend loves you. He said love “as I have loved you”. That seems pretty daunting.

But God doesn’t give us truly impossible challenges. He may give us things that we cannot accomplish by pure human strength or will, but if we call on God and rely on His strength, all things are possible. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus teaches that with true faith we have the power to do anything.

Mark 11:22, 23 – “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to the mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

If God gives us the ability through faith to “move mountains”, as the saying goes, He surely will give us the strength to love as he has loved us and meet the needs of the relationships He commands are so important. All we have to do is trust in Him and ask. It is so amazingly simple, yet we make it so hard.

Day 9 - The Power of Jesus' Command

Photos: Tom Holladay, (C)2009 Chris Earle Photography

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