Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Jesus, Peace

At our church, Trinity Church, we spend a good portion of the first Wednesday of every month in corporate prayer.

Last night we were encouraged to follow the Biblical imperative to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” in light of the global political issues surrounding the state of Israel and the state of Iran.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. (‭Psalm‬ ‭122‬:‭6‬ NIV)

What came to my mind as we began praying was Jesus’ understanding of what would bring peace to Jerusalem, recorded in the book of Luke

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. (‭Luke‬ ‭19‬:‭41-42‬ NIV)

Jesus, who could quote the Scriptures, recognized that in order for Jerusalem to have real peace it would have to recognize him as Messiah. He recognized that their rejection of him would bring physical destruction:

The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (‭Luke‬ ‭19‬:‭43-44‬ NIV)

So when you pray for the peace of Jerusalem you should be praying for the Jewish people to have their eyes opened so they can see the Prince of Peace who is the only one who brings the peace described in Psalm 122.

Theology Thursday 2.7.2013

Jesus, Love

Love is the motivation (1 Corinthians 13)

Without the right motivation any sacrifice we make is useless.  Whether we give everything we own to feed the poor or give up our life because of our beliefs it does not matter unless we have love.  Love is the motivation for all works that turn out worthwhile.  Actions that aren’t motivated by love become like a Pharisee’s observance of the Law: giving a tenth of everything (including the smallest herbs from the spice garden) and still missing the heart of the matter.

Love looks a certain way though.  It isn’t just a warm-fuzzy feeling that we get about a general concept or idea.  Love is grounded in God’s self-revelation in Jesus. Jesus commanded his disciples to “love one another”.  Love is wholehearted pursuit of Jesus; devotion to sitting at His feet and obeying his every command.  Both together. If we strive to do everything we do out of a desire to be in God’s presence and to be obedient to Jesus then our actions are worthwhile.  Otherwise they’re only worth throwing in a garbage heap.  Actions not motivated by love have no gain in them for us.  And love not motivating the right actions isn’t really love at all.

Family Ties

Church, Jesus, Sacrifice

This was my haunting dream the night of February 1st, 2011.

Matthew 19:29

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”

Taysia looked at me with contempt, my only sister, as if I were a stranger; an intruder in the home. My brothers did too. They all did. Javlin and Jaycee flanked my sister like bodyguards and declared me a danger to the family unit. My news of finding eternal life in Jesus was seen as a virus to the status quo of family decorum, of tolerance, of unspoken values, of keeping peace and order.

I walked gingerly before the triumvirate of judges and argued for my innocence with long-suffering eyes that told of a beloved loyalty to the family name. Unmoved; they remained stern in their judgment. My sentence was shame and banishment. Death would have been more merciful, I thought to myself, as death would be kind enough to put agony to rest.

All three armed themselves with silence and stares as sharp as razor blades. And it cut me. Painfully. Over and over. But there was no time for tears.

My bags were packed but not with much organization. I was in a hurry; like someone running towards the nearest garbage can to puke. Of course, I was not sick, though my stomach couldn’t tell the difference. I wanted to keel over. This stirring love for family swirled so violently inside me that it made me dizzy and nauseated. Love wanted out. To overwhelm and be received. But I knew better and restrained myself. I have never been the agitated type, and I don’t consider myself a stranger to certain pains: I have history with excruciating boils, irrepressible itchiness, blunt forces to the head. But that’s all surface stuff. This?! This pain was deep. It coursed through my veins and systems. Perhaps because this pain was blood. As family is.

My sister and brothers stood there as cold sentinels; my parents not so much. Distraught but firm, my father held my crying mother as I walked towards the door. They no longer wanted part of me. Javlin enforced my exit with his muscular arms crossed and the tattoos of his girls’ names showing; a grave reminder that I’d never see my precious nieces again.

A tear broke loose.

But, I turned my face and bit my lip. I did not want anyone to see my final plea for reconciliation. I was stubborn. I could not renounce Christ.

The final steps towards the door was a walk down memory lane as the family paintings still hung on the wall. There I was posing with my buzzed ‘do, a rare photo smile, and the matching Filipino jerseys that misspelled all our names. In happier times that detail would have induced a chuckle, but the weight of rejection anchored my frown. Taysia’s hair glowed and could run the length of her back unfurled. My brothers were young and waiting for their handsomeness to fill their growing frames. As usual dad looked a decade younger than his age while my mother posed with the muscle memories of her younger years as a Filipino beauty pageant queen. I always took pride in how good-looking they were and grateful to be called their own. And for a brief second I was frozen in time. I was family again within the recesses of self-delusion.

My born identity as a Renegado was demanded to be left at the door. Behind me I knew the collective treasures of priceless memories were being burned into the smoldering fires of ash and forgetfulness. It oddly felt ritualistic, but also criminal as I stowed away those treasures in my heart.

I love my family.

I took the first heavy step out the door where one’s man sunset becomes another man’s dawn. My bags were light as usual, thankfully, because I felt so weak. This freedom was a lonely one. As I took the solitary walk to my car, the Spirit visited me and sang a song of assurance that gave me a peace of the most awkward order.

By your Word I am led to die
Hearts laid to a sword divide
Lambs unto the slaughter
I don’t know who’s my father

Those who do the will of God
They are my brothers
They are my sisters
They are my mothers
 
Oh where does loyalty lie?
Gone are family ties
Be stronger than these bonds of blood
Adopt me into the Father’s love

I woke up afraid to open my eyes in case the bizarro world was real. When I came to my senses I still battled with the horrifying sadness I felt in having lost my family to the worthwhile conflict of treasuring my King Jesus. This was my dream but a reality to many Christians worldwide caught in the scandal between loyalty and the cross.