Monday, May 3, 2010

A New Heaven, A New Earth, A New Commandment

Peter experiences a vision, not just once but three times. In the vision God shows him every living thing he ever created. Then he told him to “kill and eat.” Now this went against everything that Peter had been taught by the teachers in the synagogue.

In the reading from Revelation John has a vision where he sees a “new heaven and a new earth and a ne Jerusalem.” In the vision he saw that God had moved into the neighborhood and was living among the men and women. He was shown in the vision that God was indeed in the world. What Jesus had told his disciples about the kingdom of God being right here, right now was in fact true.

This new heaven and earth was a place where there were no more tears, no more death, no more sorrow. Everything the human race thought they had all figured out was being tossed out the window with the wash water. All the rules, all the laws of nature, everything that scientists and mathematicians thought they had figured out, all that was gone. Everything was being made new. There was a new dimension being revealed that no one ever knew existed. God was showing it first to John in a vision.

As if this isn’t enough “new” for us John tells us in his gospel of the “new commandment” Jesus gave them before he departed this world. That commandment was to love one another as he had loved them. Love everyone as Jesus had demonstrated to them by his teaching and his actions.

If they lived by his commandment showing love for everyone as Jesus had then everyone would know that they were truly his disciples.

On top of all that the psalmist reminds us that the whole world should be giving God praise for all that he provides.

So where should we begin? What’s the most important lesson for us today?

I think that the key point in the scriptures heard from the Word today is that God is love. Jesus was the perfect example for his disciples and for us. He lived his life in love for his Father, God, and love for all God’s children.

It did not matter what their station in life was. It did not make any difference to him what mistakes they had made or were still making in the lives. He invited himself to dinner. He invited them to join him wherever he was. He shared his love, God’s love, with them even before they had asked forgiveness for their sins. He just loved them as there were, where they were, unconditionally.

Just imagine what this world would be like if we were perfect examples of Jesus to the world where we live. But we aren’t perfect. We make mistakes. We turn our backs on folks who are begging for handouts. We try to not see those people who are scrounging through the garbage we set out at the curb to be picked up. We think that all the government agencies, all the non-profits, will take care of those who can’t find employment, who can’t afford the same health insurance we have.

But friends, is that love? Is that the example Jesus was to his disciples? He said, “Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.”

How are we to love those who are doing the killing in Omaha? How are we to love those who abuse children and spouses? How are we to love those who are trying to destroy this country we call home?

Friends, it’s definitely not easy and it’s not something we can do through our own will power. In fact, if we try to do it all by ourselves we will fail miserably. We will make a terrible mess of everything.

The only way it’s possible to live lives of love as Jesus lived is to first off develop a close relationship with God. The only way to begin is by accepting God’s grace. God’s gift to us was given to us in the life and death of his Son, Jesus the Messiah.

God doesn’t ask anything of us because he knows it’s impossible for any of us to earn his grace. His grace is a free gift to us. He doesn’t expect anything from us except our acceptance of his Son, Jesus.

Will we ever get it right? Will we ever be able to perfectly love everyone? What do you think? Have you tried? How are you doing at loving everyone? I’m not doing so well. In fact, some days I fail so miserably that I wonder if God hasn’t given up on me.

By God’s grace I know that I’m forgiven. By God’s good grace we are all forgiven. We can’t give up. We must keep on trying. We must keep on loving. We must lean on God for stronger faith, more persistence, more stamina to continue the race we are running.

The goal is the new heaven, the new earth, the New Jerusalem and eternal life with the Triune God. We need to be reminded that God is love.

He is cheering us on. He is rooting for us to succeed. Friends, in his photo album your picture is on the front page. God has many front pages.

By God’s grace we will be filled with his love through his love for us in Jesus the Messiah. By God’s grace we will be enabled to share his love with all who come to us for nurture and help and love.

God loves you my friends and so do I. Amen.

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