It is a great kindness to us as followers of Jesus, to have Scripture available to us. And not only in our language, but in multiple translations, all attempting to bring out the richness of the text that we might better see God’s love shining through. This abundance causes my sympathies to overflow for the disciples. They were, unbeknownst to them, plowing up hardened ground, watching God’s Kingdom bear Love’s fruit before their disbelieving eyes. And all this with no ‘How To’ guide, no spiritual GPS (SatNav), to help with the navigating! We have the safety, today, to sit back and smile at those hapless guys gaping in wonderment at the latest development. My dear wife coined a term for them, ‘Jesus’ beloved nitwits’ (thanks, Babe!). What I love about their foibles and fumbles is the hope they give me for the courage to take my place as one in a long line of ‘Jesus’ beloved nitwits.’ They set the bar within easy reach.

The truth is, even with Scripture, church history, theological writings, scads of theologians, and an unlimited supply of Christian authors, still nothing is gained without investing in a personal, love relationship with Jesus. My guess is, all the churchy trappings available to us amount to the clanging gong Paul was referring to. After all this time, love in the context of relationship remains the key, outstripping the degreed accomplishments of clergy and the plenitude of programs, cafés, bookstores and smoke machines offered within the four walls of our churches.

We in the West specialize in getting things done, making things happen, growing larger, building an image. The difficulty is those things leave little time for the building of loving relationships, either with God, with our families, with our church families, and much less with our neighbors and the world around us. And yet it is love, first and foremost, that is key. An intense, otherworldly love, heart-to-heart, eye-to-eye, for better for worse, till death do us part, kind of love. I get, now, why Jesus’ disciples didn’t get it (I’ll have to apologize to them when I see them).

“ . . . if we love one another, God makes his permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in him, and his love is brought to its full expression in us. . . We have come into an intimate experience with God’s love, and we trust in the love he has for us.” 1 John 4:12,16, TPT. So John saw love as the goal as we live in Jesus. I think we may still have a moment of time to bring His love to its ‘full expression’ as we welcome the world to taste and see that the Lord is good. Any takers out there?  PD

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