Continuing with the second Rule I referred to in the last post:
Four Rules for Me Never to Sin Again as Long as I Live:
- God is Sovereign (“Remember this, Little Monk!”)
- Love God with All I Am, Above all Else that Is. (“Revere God = Holiness”)
- Love My Neighbor as Jesus Loves Me (“Treat All as Sacred = Righteousness”)
- Love Myself as Jesus Loves Me (“Treat Self as Sacred = Humility in Sacredness”)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ [Mark 12:29-30]
4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. [Deuteronomy 6:4-9]
In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The [a]whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the [b]foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the [c]temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” [Isaiah 6:1-5]
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.” [John 14:7-11]
9″ Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” [John 15:9-11]
13″ But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them ]from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22″The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
25 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; 26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” [John 17:13-25]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
O Gentle Reader… Thank you so much for your patience, because I struggle so deeply to wrap words around my heart or my thoughts here.
The verses above… they capture me… they draw me inside of them, and have done so since I was a little child. Don’t you find that true? Don’t these words, these incredible words from the heart and lips of Jesus, just grasp you by the shoulders and pull you inside… inside of Him… inside His heart… inside the heart of the Father… through the Spirit?
It is here, for me, where the greatest of mysteries lie in our humanity!
Only Jesus Himself could have made sense of this mystery, or at least articulated it clearly. [Pray God I not muddle it up here!]
Jesus leaves us only two commandments… the first of which echoes from Deuteronomy, that the Lord, Our God is One, and we are to love Him with all that we are and all we have. Yes. But the closer we draw to that God, the more clearly we hear Him, the more clearly we see Him… the more struck we are with His utter HOLINESS!! Like Isaiah, in his encounter, we can feel overwhelmed with our own frailty and shortcomings. We can feel undone. We may collapse in our own clear awareness of our utterly bankrupt identities, our incapacity to stand upright before such holiness.
Ever been there? Ever had one of those Isaiah moments? I sure have!
But unlike Isaiah’s rescue at the hands of his angels… Jesus deals with us in an ENTIRELY different way. Jesus’ rescue is utterly incomprehensible. We see it throughout the Gospels and the Epistles, but nowhere as clearly (imho) as we see it in these passages…
Jesus says NOTHING of the worthiness or undoneness of either His disciples themselves or, by His specific and deliberate extension through their words… of ourselves. His points are extremely simple and straightforward… that as we keep and obey His commandments (to love)… He and the Father will come and dwell in us. He speaks of glory. He speaks of the words and actions of the Father, reflected perfectly in His words and actions. He speaks of going to the Father, of sending back the Spirit, and of He and the Father returning to dwell in us.
Now, here’s the “mystery” part I cannot wrap words around, Gentle Reader… the best phrase I can find for it is:
The Unspeakable Holiness of Love – or – The Incomprehensible Love that is Holy
These two TRUTHS of God… of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit Himself… simply cannot be parsed or separated, no matter how hard we try. This has been an awareness growing exponentially within me for quite a while now. And, I offer no excuse here, but truthfully it has been a startling revelation in my pitiful little soul.
I mean, clearly it SHOULDN’T be! This truth is screamed out from the rafters and rooftops throughout the entire Bible, isn’t it? And yet, all too often, I hear people speak of these two Truths of God… His Holiness and His Love… as though they were somehow mutually exclusive, or in conflict. So many times, there is this spoken, or unspoken, “but”… in the sentence. Like… “God is unspeakably holy, BUT yet He is loving.” Or the reverse… “Ours is a Loving God, but we must not forget that He is Holy, too!”
[Dear Lord, grant me grace to say this next part clearly and cleanly.]
For so long, I had succumbed to a prideful heresy that surrounded me, never examining it or discerning it for the lie that it is… that we can “define” God… assign Him “acceptable boundaries and parameters”… and thus, “control” Him!
That we, as humans, can stand to the side and “judge” what constitutes “holiness” by virtue of whether someone or something meets our “rational criteria” and standards. Like the Pharisees, we can make our rules and lists of “godliness” according to personal or corporate cultural convictions… and pass judgment not only on other PEOPLE… but upon the very expressions of God’s Love in that person’s life… thereby judging God Himself as being EITHER Loving and Gracious, OR Holy and Righteous… in such seeming moments of conflict of interest. Now, don’t get me wrong… this seeming “dichotomy” is seldom experienced or recognized flat out… seldom if ever openly acknowledged… but is more an unspoken or muttered undertone.
Now… there’s no “finger-pointing” here, Gentle Reader. If you’ve never done, thought, or felt this… that’s Awesome! But I can freely admit, I have… it has muddled my relationship with God for many years, and it is no doubt the single most powerful force to undermine my abandoned Trust to the Heart of the Father. Without doubt. And, I’ve heard it spoken in one way or another by other people more times than I can possibly count.
And it is such a SIMPLE error to fall into. When God finally pointed it out to me when I did it, I was amazed. It is simply the belief that we KNOW what “holiness” means. That we can establish criteria of holiness that “make sense to us”, and then judge situations based on those criteria as an exercise of reason apart from His participation.
The early church struggled with this, for example regarding eating meat sacrificed to idols… clearly, for some, this was an unholy act. This was sin. Paul worked manfully to sort this out in Romans 14… one could not judge the holiness of such an act in a vacuum. All depended on the presence and posture of the Holy Spirit, the expression to conscience, for the individual.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
So, where does all this leave us? Where does this leave me, regarding my “Rules”?
It has become the case that I am to love God with all that I am, and all that I have, and THEREBY recognize and participate in His Holiness. It is NOT an “either/or”… it is NOT a “Love despite His Holiness” or a “Holy despite His love”… quite the opposite. The ONLY way to recognize or express “holiness” is through Love. The ONLY way to truly express Love, is to recognize its Holiness, and rejoice in that.
Does that make any sense, Gentle Reader? You have no idea how difficult it is for me to make words work for me here!
There is no godly way to say, “I can love THIS much, but not beyond that!” That is the same as saying, “I can be THIS holy, I can love God THIS much, but no more.” It’s like saying, “I can be THIS Christlike, I can participate in Him THIS far… I can yield and submit to Him and His Spirit THIS far, but no further!”
For me to obey Jesus’ command here, to love the Lord My God with ALL… is to embrace Philippians 2:5-8: “5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Obedient to the point of death, empty… no brakes, no chocks, no limits, no boundaries, no walls. Nothing. “ALL”, Jesus said.
There is no “untangling” of the words “Love” and “Holy” with regard to our relationship and experience of God. To attempt to do so does violence to our souls, and to our walk.
I obey my second rule only as I love with “reckless abandon”, unlimited by my own fears or any mistrust. And, only as I love with such prodigal recklessness, do I truly perceive, recognize, and worship in the Holiness that surrounds Him!
Doing so… transforms…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you, Gentle Reader, for your patience. Please pray for me as such a work in progress! Blessings and Grace to thee! – Little Monk