Friday, July 28, 2023

"I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness"

Do you do for others what you want done for you? Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.

Do you listen or interrupt? Are you compelled to understand others who explain how your choices affect them or do you compel others to understand how their choices affect you? Husbands? Wives? Brothers and sisters? Employer and employees? What about you?

Do you listen to understand others, as intently as you expect them to listen to understand you?
Do you not like others treating you how you treat them?
Are you more concerned with others caring for how they make you feel and less troubled by how you make them feel?
Are you more concerned with being right than with what is right?
Do you point the finger back to those pointing their fingers at you? How do you respond when others give you the same treatment?
Can you be corrected for a fault or for an imagined fault, without treating others how you do not want to be treated?
Are others able to feel at peace, to be free from anxious care, when approaching you to share their concerns?
Are you able to feel at peace when others interrupt you expressing your concerns, and then they begin expressing their concerns about you? Do you need to hush them up, insisting that since you were interrupted, that you have the right to finish expressing yourself? Are you able to "turn the other cheek" with an inward glow of charity and allow them to finish expressing to you their concerns, even though interrupted, laying aside your personal feelings and sense of injustice, in order to better understand them, even though you hoped to be understood by them? Are you able to be for them what you wanted them to be for you, without them ever becoming that for you?
Do others find you to be peaceable? Do others need to demonstrate this humility before you do?
This is what is means to abide in the Vine. This is what it means to follow Jesus. This is what it means to have eternal life. This is what it means to walk in the Spirit.
Jesus said, "I am among you as one who serves". A servant acknowledges having a superior, "I have glorified You on the Earth: I have finished the work that You have given Me to do" (John 17:4). A servant understands commands "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10). A servant is devoted to the needs of others, and places them before his own, "The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). A servant elevates others, prefers others, entreats others. A servant is not only placed below others but places himself below others, "Therefore does My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment I have received from My Father" (John 10:17-18).
Christ's humility led Him to death, even the cruel death of the cross (Philippians 2).
He who offended none, gave all on behalf of all who offended Him.
He who was worthy of every Hosanna, when rebuked by religious sinners for not silencing such praises, after allowing these unjust accusers to finish speaking, calmly replied, "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out" (Luke 19:40).
He who was above all, before all, created all, and who is called "the Wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1), was beaten with stripes above measure (Deuteronomy 25), was willing to look like the biggest fool of all, for stripes are for the backs of fools (Proverbs 19:29), that through such suffering love, His offenders may be healed by those stripes (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Though Jesus Christ was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8); things which He did not suffer for Himself but for us, for He was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised to life again for our justification (Romans 4:25).
Are you willing to suffer unjustly on behalf of others who offend you? Are you willing, through the humility of Jesus Christ, to raise them up to the life of Christ, through following His steps?
Are you willing to do for others what they need done for them, or do you exalt your needs above theirs and expect them to do for you what you need done?
Are you willing to prize God above all, that through union with Him in death to self, you could be raised with Him in life, and raise others with you?
During these spontaneous moments, these momentary crucibles, where we are pressed to choose the Royal path of emptying self, even as Christ, do we find that God is enough or do we insist more from others? With Christ, can we say during these agonies of the cross, "My God, my God"? Do we draw from the Vine and become fruitful branches of His cross, or do we reprimand others who cross us?
Do we discover in the conflict a fountain of love springing up from within, an everlasting life, a joy unspeakable and full of glory, or is there spiritual drought and famine inside?
Have we quenched the Spirit, do we drink of the rivers of the pleasures of God (Psalm 36), or do we find ourselves more satisfied with pleasing ourselves, to the hurt and detriment of ourselves and others?
Are we more satisfied with others liking us or with Christlikeness in us (Psalm 17)?
Others tending towards the cross, though weak and feeble, do we like Simon the Cyrenian, stoop down to help, or do we lash out against them because of grudge and offense? Can we appreciate others struggling towards the cross, during conflict, when we ourselves are suffering from what they have done against us? Do we demand full acknowledgement of guilt before crying out, "Father forgive them"?
Dear friends: What does it mean to you to be born again? What does a new creature truly like to you? What does it means to be a fruitbearing branch?

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“Reason dictates that persons who are truly noble and who love wisdom will honor and love only what is true. They will refuse to follow traditional viewpoints if those viewpoints are worthless...Instead, a person who genuinely loves truth must choose to do and speak what is true, even if he is threatened with death...I have not come to flatter you by this written petition, nor to impress you by my words. I have come to simply beg that you do not pass judgment until you have made an accurate and thorough investigation. Your investigation must be free of prejudice, hearsay, and any desire to please the superstitious crowds. As for us, we are convinced that you can inflict no lasting evil on us. We can only do it to ourselves by proving to be wicked people. You can kill us—but you cannot harm us.” From Justin Martyr's first apology 150 A.D. Martyred A.D. 160