Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Christians and the Sermon on the Mount

Lately I've been focusing a little, and reflecting on our Lord's, "the Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5-7). As I'm thinking through the text, having just read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's treatment of it in The Cost of Discipleship, I am wondering what difference it would make in the average American Christian's life, the average American evangelical Christian's life, and to the average American church and evangelical church, if all of the sudden this "Sermon on the Mount" no longer existed. My answer so far: I think, in general, very little if any at all.

When I first thought of reading Bonhoeffer (who I had read very little before) and of considering anew this passage in Matthew, I did so in seeking to understand what we as Christians are to be in relation to the world. And how this relates to how we view politics, or how we live in a political world (as Scot McKnight stated it, the last phrase). After reading Bonhoeffer's work on this passage, and now, spending some time meditating on it, I'm concluding that this passage has so much more to say to us than just how we Chrisitans relate to the political world. It really would speak to us about all of life. Who we are. And how we're to live out this identity in the world. It speaks of our heart and the actions which spring from it, both as individuals and as community. And I believe, it surely is foundational to understanding the rest of the content of the Gospels (especially Matthew and Luke, but including Mark and John) and of our Lord's teaching and life revealed in them.

What challenges me is to look at my own life, and the life of the Church as I know it, with the question: What difference would it make, if all the sudden Matthew 5-7 and any parallel accounts elsewhere as in Luke 6, were suddenly no longer in our Bibles, and never had been? Also I wonder how that may alter the rest of the New Testament? (This last question is more for the scholars). What do you think? Do you think this matters? (a trick question)


We can spend our lives on so many worthwhile and interesting (to us, at least) activities. These draw our full attention. And we want nothing to get in the way of them. But in the end, what do we often have?

Fellowship with God, and with each other is really a treasure we should seek daily. As Paul reminds us, "10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," (Philippians 3; NIV).

Fellowship is mutual. It is a loving interactivity of "give and take" with each other. First with God in Christ by the Spirit. We are in fellowship, by faith in Jesus, with no less than the Triune God. And for us in Jesus, as we've already been reminded, it is a participation in him, which includes fulfilling something of his sufferings as his Body here on earth. We are marked people here. Even if many don't know that. Our fellowship with him marks us as those who are of another place. Who work to bring good into this world, but really are not of this world (John 17:14-16).

I was laying in the medical facility awaiting a standard procedure, with my dear wife. Thinking about how much deeper I need to go in fellowship (those places sometimes inspire "the end" thinking). With God, and with my loved ones, with friends and now, as I sit here, extending that fellowship, even as Jesus did, to sinners like myself (after all, we're all, in Jesus, recovering sinners). This will involve alot of prayer, even as our Lord lived that out on earth. And good listening. And then conversing, speaking and acting out of love. The love of Jesus.

Father, Let me love my wife and daughter, my sisters and brothers, my friends, neighbors and co-workers, with the love of Jesus. By the love of the Spirit. In your family love. Amen.

Monday, August 28, 2006

"the American dream" and following Christ

I heard a professing Christian medical doctor, who works in helping the poorest of the poor in Washington D.C. He was remarking on how we who enjoy a slice (or more) of "the American dream" without seeking to bring justice to the poor, share in something that obscures and is a hindrance to our fellowship with God. And how, when he sensed something was wrong, and finally he and his family went to D.C., and actually work and live among the poorest there, including those dying of AIDS, he then had a sense of really knowing God.

His thoughts were not easy for me to grasp. He spoke about the Old Testament prophets' call for justice (specifically, Jeremiah): while it is good for us to give to charities, what is needed even more is changes resulting in systemic justice. In other words, we need to be concerned that these people can and would get on their feet, and be enabled, rather than held down.

I really wonder about some of the money making in our country. How much of it comes at the expense of the poor, as well as those just making ends meet? People need help, yes, to get back up, and on their feet. But also to be able to make a living, and even have hope to fulfill who they are, as human beings.

Our individualism results in every person for themselves. But following Christ means every person for the other. It means stopping at the roadside. Cleaning up and bandaging the wounded man. And helping him get back on his feet. And not forgetting about him, afterwards.

As I consider how we live, even as those who profess to follow Christ, I wonder. If I am blessed with alot of money and a good job, how am I using that? (Or even for us who are closer to the widow who gave two mites, all she had to live on. Often the most generous are those who have the least.) And how am I using my time? Do we seek to understand the plight of those less fortunate- not only in our head, but in a personal, experiential way? Do we befriend them? And have them over for a meal? Is this becoming a part of our way of life in Christ Jesus? And if not, why not?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ethics and the Will of God: the Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If you have time, maybe doing a project in the house, I would encourage you to listen to this program on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I think it gives us an important look and feel for who he was, and what he lived through, as well as his thought and acts in doing so. It also gives us a good sense of his humanity, that he struggled with feet of clay, as the rest of us do, but with a remarkable faith not dependent on circumstances, but cast on God and his will.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

blessed, salt and light

In Dietrich Bonhoeffer's, The Cost of Discipleship, he looks at our Lord's "the Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5-7). It seems a kind of manifesto by Jesus, of the kingdom of God come in him.

Reading Bonhoeffer, I see ourselves as evangelicals to have widely missed the mark. Is what we're all about congruent to and in harmony with this kingdom that Jesus describes? It does make it hard, when one of our theologies, dispensationalism, has in the past declared this sermon to be for another time and people, not for the church in this age. And when another one of our theologies, reformed, has certainly practiced (Calvin's Geneva) and thought on community. Yet not as those sufficiently hearing our Lord's words in this sermon.

We're blessed as those who are completely countercultural to the world. Is cross bearing no longer necessary (and perhaps dying on that cross) since our Lord has died, been resurrected and is now exalted at the right hand of God in power? Not if we are his Body on earth, sent by him, as he was sent by the Father. This blessedness seems a curse in the world's eyes, and they would cast us out. But God's promises are true, as to what this blessedness consists. Really all things, in our Father's home. On those who are no-things (or at least, curiosities), in the world's eyes.

We're salt and light to this world. We're to not lose that saltiness, nor hide our light under a bowl. Instead, people are to see our good deeds as given to us from Christ. It is to be no less than Christ, and our becoming like him in his death, that is to be the life we live by faith in this world. People must see Jesus and his cross in our lives: in our words and deeds.

Having said all that, as moved to do so from reading Bonhoeffer, I must say I fear we are in danger of not really taking our Lord's "manifesto" of God's kingdom seriously. It is a life individually and in community, lived out before the world (and each other) that is Jesus-oriented to the bone. Not oriented to any entity here on earth. Impacting the world in an unworldy way. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his, The Cost of Discipleship, points out to us how it's all about obedience, in becoming and in being a follower of our Lord. And a radical obedience. He takes passages such as Jesus' dealing with the rich young ruler, and points out how they are often watered down to mean something less than our Lord meant. With the danger that they miss the faith that was to be found, in responding to the call of Jesus in the command.

Those passages can be understood in a metaphorical way that meets those whose lives are already set on pilgrimmage with Christ. After all, we know the crux of the matter is not money, how much one has or doesn't have. But the crucial matter is where one's heart is. Is it in worshiping and serving God? Or in idolatry? As Bobby Dylan sang, we do indeed, "gotta serve somebody". There are no acceptable grays here.

We do have to seek to stay in the path of radical obedience to Christ. Just because we start out with him, doesn't mean now we're free to not take his commands seriously. After we put our hand to the plow of the kingdom of God, we must refuse to look back. And when we do falter, to confess and receive forgiveness, then continue on with our Lord.

Jesus, Let us not lean on our own understanding. But submit to you in obedience, in all of life. Knowing that you are there with us, to keep us on the straight and narrow to the end. To your glory. Amen.

Friday, August 18, 2006

please read and pray

Bob Robinson, a fellow blogger, and his family, need our prayers. Please read (two links) and pray for him and his family.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

following Christ's passion

In the beginning of my reading of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's, The Cost of Discipleship, I am reminded of our Lord's words to a wondering Peter, about the rumor that John would live to see the Lord's return.
...what is that to you? You must follow me
John 21:22; TNIV

It is easy to slip into the notion that following Jesus means getting the desires of our hearts. And certainly we're promised that as our delight is in the Lord, this will indeed be fulfilled (Psalm 37).

Bonhoeffer adeptly reminds us, that it's not at all about us. It's about Christ. And following him. And ultimately fulfilling his passion. Our desire and passion becoming more and more one with his.

Only by grace through faith. Only through Christ by the Spirit. And daily. Certainly setbacks and wanderings, but coming back. To so follow must become for us, what it's about.

And what was Peter's end? Our Lord had just given him a "heads up" on that. It was to be a literal cross. And tradition has it that Peter requested he be so executed, upside down, as he did not deem himself worthy of dying in the same way as his Lord. This following is what it meant for Peter, what it meant for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and indeed, what it means for each one of us, here and now.

Lord. Let it not be about us. Forgive us that so often that's what it's been about. Let us joyfully follow you. Though we do not know where we're going. Let us know your passion, and your glory. Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Christians and the world of politics: a challenging issue

Bob Robinson (here, here and here) and dlw (here) on their blogs, are grappling with and critiquing Gregory Boyd's new book, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church. In the book, Boyd, an evangelical pastor known for his stands and books as a proponenet of open theism, complains about Christian involvement by evangelicals of "the religous right" as well as those of the religous left.

Paul E. Koptak in the NIV Application Commentary: Proverbs in his "Contemporary Significance" section of Proverbs 28:1-28 (pp 632-633) seems to me to steer a course between, on the one hand Christians refusing to bow to the state ("Caesar") as Lord. But rather living as those to whom Jesus is Lord, and doing so as those of another kingdom, counter and subversive to government in this world. Yet on the other hand hopefully sought out to serve in areas of leadership in government and thus bringing this other kingdom, the kingdom of God, as an influence on the state or government (local, state, national, international). He quotes Robert Webber: "The social and political work of evangelicals is counter cultural. However, the calling of the church is not to 'clean up America,' but to be the church, a radical counter cultural communal presence in society. The ultimate question is not 'How is America?' but 'How is the church?' (from R.E. Webber, Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World)

Koptak, after acknowledging Christians serving in community leadership roles adds: "We should cooperate and lend support when we can, but we should also speak when we disagree---and at root, Christians disagree with the rest of the world over the question of political authority, that is, who really is in charge. If we serve and speak as though we had no higher allegiance than the One who calls us to learn and live wisdom, we may be cheered, but we may also be jeered or something worse." He then quotes William Willimon: "...the church is, for better or worse, God's answer to what is wrong in the world. Just let the church begin telling the truth, speaking the truth to power, witnessing to the fact that God, not nations, rules the world, that Jesus Christ is really Lord, and the church will quickly find how easily threatened and inherently unstable are the rulers of this world." (from Willimon: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry)

Koptak's position probably aligns to some extent with Boyd's (and hopefully I am representing his position in this commentary, accurately). Bob Robinson and dlw, influenced by Abraham Kuyper (two links), see Boyd's position as at least tending towards a dualism that would evidently see God leaving the state to itself, God's rule being in the Church, and providentially- including even through the state (e.g., Cyrus and Caesar), aside from and in spite of the state. The state not being the entity of God's rule and kingdom, but nevertheless ordained by God to humans and accountable to him. Though some of Boyd's thought may be inconsistent (an interview in which he states that he is not saying Christians shouldn't serve in politics or be an influence there), the burden of what he seems to be saying is that Christians are to bring God's kingdom to earth in Jesus through fulfilling their calling as the Church. And that to be heavily engaged in politics (such as those of "the religious right"), is to at least be in danger of missing our calling as Church.

At this point I would side more with Koptak's thinking. I do believe the two extreme positions of H. Richard Niebuhr's classic, Christ and Culture: Christ against culture, and Christ transforming culture, have truth from Scripture on Christians' relation to culture and government. This is where the difficulty lies for me. We in Jesus as salt and light to this world, are surely to be influencers for good of human culture, which is simply all that is involved in how human societies live. And part of humanity's original call from God was to rule over the earth, which would inherently involve order and cooperation with other humans, itself a part of culture. Something most theologians do not believe was ever taken back by God because of the fall of humankind.

At this point I'm not sold on what I understand of the Kuyperian view. It seems to see Christ's victory at the cross, over the powers, as opening the door wide to God's full rule in government. I believe that is true. But though, this is post-cross and resurrection, and the beginning of the new creation through God's kingdom establishing itself on earth in Jesus, I just can't see all of this as fulfilled yet (such as in Psalm 2 or Revelation 11- note especially verses 15-18) in such a way that we can think of the possibility of the kingdom of God fully at home in any one human government/state. This seems to me to be a case of the present tension of "already/not yet", in that the kingdom of God is already present in Jesus, but has not yet come in its fullness as in the final judgment and restoration of all things.

What do you think on this, I believe- difficult and challenging issue?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

This I believe: faithfulness

Listen to (or read) this testimony on faithfulness, which I recently heard on NPR.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

blowin' in the wind

Blowin' in the Wind
Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

No. This isn't decrying the war in Iraq. Instead it's to call our attention to this song's simple, eloquent expression of the human heart cry for shalom. Shalom is the peace and prosperity that only God can bring about, through his kingdom in Jesus. How the world ought to be.

Of course we come to know that the answer to these good questions Dylan poses, does not lie in ourselves. We're, after all, part of the problem. But the fact that we can ask such questions, and that we long for something better, for wrongs being made right, for good "happy forever after" endings, speaks of our dignity as humans, being image bearers, or eikons of God. This is something in our hearts that, if let go, diminishes something fundamental to being human. The desire for a world of love, justice and peace.

Today at work I was going over Psalm 48. Looking at this psalm with the reminder of this song to recall our lack and need of shalom, gave me new eyes as I pondered its lines. It is largely about how God, as King over the earth, in justice brings shalom to all peoples. If I were of the third world, I would naturally read the psalm in that way. But I tend to look at it in some kind of religious way, that easily misses God's answer to the questions I may fail to even ask. People here often settle for much less than a heart's cry for shalom, such as "the American dream".

Of all people on earth, we Christians, followers of Jesus, ought to have a passion for God's shalom in this world. As Jesus taught us to pray: "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." And we need to remember that God, in his grace in Christ, actually enables us to be part of the solution to this problem of the lack of shalom.

Let us not give up or lose sight of this ideal. But press on, as those who know the One who has the answers in hand. In the Son from the Father by the Spirit to us. And through us to the world. Amen.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I've been tagged... Scot McKnight.

1. One book that changed your life: How to Pray, by R.A. Torrey. As a young Christian. Many have impacted me since.
2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us, by Scot McKnight. And I'll read it again.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island: (besides the Bible, of course) Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. Because it more or less sketches the whole picture.
4. One book that made you laugh: Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States, by Dave Barry. I enjoy the humor section oftentimes at bookstores.
5. One book that made you cry: What's So Amazing About Grace?, by Philip Yancey. Good and moving stories.
6. One book you wish had been written: The Gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom of God, by the Apostle Paul.
7. One book you wish had never been written: Mein Kampf, by Adolph Hitler. Can't think of a more destructive book.
8. One book you’re currently reading: The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology, by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Not disappointed.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I need to work on reading Bonhoeffer.
10. Tag 5 others: Drew Moser, Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Lukas McKnight, Michael Kruse, Rusty Peterman. I read from Michael Barber on Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed that we're to contact those we tag by e-mail.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Faithfulness means "adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person, cause, or idea" (The Free Dictionary by Farflex). In Scripture faithfulness and faith are closely related, often possible translations of the same word in Old and New Testament passages. So part of true faith is faithfulness. And faithfulness is an expression of true faith.

Faithfulness is God, becoming one of us humans, in Jesus. And in Jesus bringing his kingdom down to earth. Then dying on the cross and being resurrected to new life, to ultimately bring in the fullness of the kingdom in the new creation. Which is present now in his people, the Jesus community.

God has covenanted (a promise commitment) with humankind in Jesus. The human response is faith, manifested in faithfulness within this covenant ("a binding agreement" -The Free Dictionary by Farflex) of committed love from God. So this give and take, at its heart is a matter of being faithful, faithfulness.

Faithfulness for us in Jesus means following Jesus no matter what. Trusting in Jesus and in God's promises in Scripture when one is tempted to give up in despair, or to take matters into one's own hands. Faithfulness means to be true to the revelation of God in Christ, together as a community, and as individuals in our everyday worlds.

Look at Scripture to find out what faithfulness means and how it is expressed. It's not always pretty. Just look at the psalms. Hearts poured out to God with mask removed. Repentance. Faith. Acts and words of faith often in spite of circumstances.

Certainly we fall short. Good for our humility, understanding who we really are. Then we confess to God, and to another if we've offended someone. And we accept God's forgiveness and cleansing for us in Christ. And we go on. Seeking to follow the Savior with his followers, by the Spirit.

Father, You have been and are and ever will be faithful to us in your Son. Let us in him be faithful in return. By your Spirit. And by your grace. Amen.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

overcoming as victorious ones

Nike is a transliteration of the koine Greek word meaning, "victory", nikao the verb, meaning, "conquer, overcome; win the verdict (Ro 3.4)" (Barclay M. Newman, Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament).

Christus Victor is a view of the atonement that sees Christ as the victor, by the cross and empty tomb. By his death, resurrection and ascension (resulting in the coming of the Spirit), to be completely and fully realized at his return, Jesus has conquered. And we, in Jesus, are to follow in his steps. We too, by simple faith are to be victorious, sharing in the victory of Jesus. Who defeated sin, death, and all the hosts arrayed against him.

This sounds good, and we believe it as a confession (from Scripture) of our faith. But where the rubber meets the road, do we really live it out? Do we live as overcomers, or victorious ones, and what does that really mean, and look like?

It looks like a person, taking up their cross. Following the Savior. To better come to know him and become like him in his death. So as to share in his resurrection life. Sharing with Jesus in his death, means sharing with Jesus in his resurrection. And this sharing, which begins at baptism, is to be part and parcel of our lives in the here and now. Meaning a life like Jesus lived. In union with Jesus. In the triune God. By the Spirit.

It means a new prayer ("the Lord's prayer"- Matthew 6) and a new perspective when the trials inevitably come. We are living out in the here and now, what Jesus lived out before us. He blazed the way for us, in the days of his humiliation. And he is our glorified head now, as we, his body, live in the days of our humiliation, prior to our glorification in him. Called to be, in him, victorious ones who call and invite others to join us in this new life and humanity. No matter what we run up against, knowing that there is always God's answer and help.

We need this "shot in the arm". We need to remember who we belong to. And what he has done. And what that means. We're not to go around, hanging our heads down, trying merely to survive and keep our heads above water. But in God's love, together, and even perhaps by ourselves, as both Jesus and Paul experienced- though such times should be exceptions to the rule; we're meant to be in this journey, and triumphal procession in Jesus, together, not by ourselves- we are to thrive, and be victorious, more than conquerors through him who loved us. Amen.

wisdom and work

I was talking with someone who trains people to think in terms of work and not job. I picked up from him that he means approaching vocation as something fluid rather than fixed. And that these are the kinds of employees employers want today. My dad worked in one place for forty-three years, and generally stayed at one job there for long periods of time. I generally have stayed at the same job until I had good reason to move on. Things have changed in this day and age. I notice that some people switch jobs where I work, quite often. Work is seen not merely as a job, but as vocation that can be inclusive of many jobs.

I was talking to another person who mentioned what he sees in another country. The people there think only in terms of living from day to day. Thinking ahead or planning is a foreign concept to them. Whereas in our country, it is much more common to see people plan their future, realizing there are many contingencies.

Proverbs has alot of wisdom on this. It is a book that ought to be read and studied by all of us, particularly by young people who are just beginning their work lives. It can help us see the need for counsel, using one's gifts, working hard at it, having balance in life, seeing life in good perspective (including during those times when not all goes well) and living in the fear of the Lord. A book like Ecclesiastes is good too, in giving us some helpful perspectives- knowing what life really is, in a fallen world in which many things are wrong, and do go wrong.

We need to be those who apply wisdom from God in our work and in our lives. That we may see work as part and parcel of our calling from God. And an important expression of who we are. But that we might also realize its limitations because of the Fall.

We also need to see our work in terms of the kingdom of God. How it relates to God's kingdom having come in Jesus. In terms of our gifting, of our call from God, of our own families, and of others that our work, in one way or another, may impact. God's word/Scripture does not seem that concerned about what we are doing as vocation (1 Corinthians 7). But rather that we are doing all for the glory of God. And that we do so as stewards who will give account of our lives and work to God.

What have you learned about wisdom and work? That maybe, as is true in my case, you wish you would have known years ago? Or that you are learning now?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I can't believe I lost my links!

But will be correcting that when I have time. Thanks.

In future when I have more time (not real soon), I want to change to wordpress. That is, if I keep blogging, which I'm leaning towards. Thanks.

(Though I liked the appearance better, I switched back to this. Most of my "ministry" in pastoring is to older folks. So I'm acutely aware of some having the need for large letters. So I'll stick with this format for now.)

love/intimacy from God

Jesus' creed (the new Shema for the new Israel), called "the Jesus creed", tells us that to love God with all of our being and doing, and to love our fellow human ("neighbor") as ourselves is getting to the heart of and what is central to Scripture. In it we read of God's love expressed in creating, redeeming, restoring and renewing his creation. We read of God's call to a family that would become his holy nation, blessed to be a blessing to all nations on the earth. This would occur through Abraham and his seed. Paul points out that this "seed" (singular) is Christ. He would be the promised one to come, who would bruise/"crush" (TNIV) the serpent's head. Thus lifting the curse of God from his creation, and seeing his blessing come and flourish on it all. Of course while the beginning of that is here, in the present kingdom of Christ on earth, we await for its fullness when Jesus returns and the new Jerusalem comes down to earth.

Having said that, we still live in a world that experiences the blessings of God's love daily: in sunshine, health, food and drink, etc. (though let us be mindful of those who are lacking in needs). Yet few know his intimacy in their lives. The intimacy which is grounded in the love communion of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. People look for it in other things: in each other, in that ideal (from their imagination) person, even from pornography. Dangerously they may seem to have an intimacy from sources that really are impersonal and destructive. Or they may just give up, and become secluded and hard. Not knowing any intimacy in their hearts and lives.

This is where the love of God in Jesus comes in. This love is to be experienced by all humankind. And it is experienced in the heart of each individual in Jesus. And expressed to loved ones (spouse, children, family; friends), and to be expressed to all believers in Jesus, in and before this world. God's goodness in his creation of human love, though broken in us all, is experienced potentially by all people on earth- his gift to all. Though the greater love, found only in Jesus is the kind of intimacy we're referring to here.

Kathleen Norris in The Cloister Walk writes about how we need to look in our relationships, for Christ's intimacy. For us who are married, we need to find his intimacy in our spouses, and they need to find the same in us. Infatuation strikes at the heart of many, and perhaps is an early stage of "true love". But it is misleading, for intimate love must go beyond infatuation, to know and embrace the real person, warts and all. And to love them, and be loved by them with Jesus' own love.

This is in keeping with the truth that God wants us to enter into the reality of the communion of love found in the Trinity. This needs to be more and more our own practice and experience in a world that sorely needs to see and experience this love.

Jesus, Let us know your love. The love of the Father in the Son. By the Holy Spirit. To each other and to the world you died for. Amen.