Accept everyone… no exceptions

Romans 15:7 (NLT) 7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.

The word “accept” loses some of the intent of the original Greek for this word. The word is proslambano which is a very intimate word… giving access to one’s heart…

Verse 5 tells us that this passage is about believers… accepting other believers. I find this difficult with some believers. There are some people, quite frankly, that just get on my last nerve. God calls me to give them access to my heart. God calls me to be Jesus with skin to them.

The only way to do that for me is for me to get out of the way and let Him who died for them love and accept them through me. Again it leads to Gal 2:20. It seems of late that all roads go there.

Daddy, thank you for your word. Help me to live it out in Christ and not try to live it under my own power. You love everyone the same. Everyone is your favorite. Help me show that to others by the way I accept them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A long way to go…

Romans 5:6-8 (NLT)

6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

A simple thought.  It’s would be easy (ok… maybe not easy, but easier) to sacrifice myself for someone we deem or see as significant… a pastor, a family member, a friend.  It would even be mentally justifiable to sacrifice myself for a “regular” person.  But as I read this passage, the Lord gave me a vision of sacrificing myself for what we call the “scum” of society.  Would I sacrifice myself and forever impact the future of my family, for a child molester?  for a doctor who performs abortions? for a genecidal maniac like Saddam Huessien or Osama Bin Laden?

If I’m honest with myself, and honest with God, I could not do it.  Even if God himself stood in front of me and in an audible voice commanded me to… I’m not sure I could do it.

But He needs me to be in that kind of place spiritually.  He needs me to be that broken, obedient and loving.  That’s exactly the place Jesus was at.  That’s exactly the place he was when he crawled onto the cross.  That’s exactly the place Stephen was as they were hurling stones at him.

I am not there.

I have a very long way to go…

Husband 101 – Part 5

I started this yesterday – and posted it to Running After Papa – but I added more as I mulled over the passages again.  I may later post something on my continued journey through Romans.  If you want to read Parts 1-4 of this series, its at  Part 1 starts in October 2008.

Ephesians 5:25 ESV Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

This will be the final post in this series.  I want to explore a couple of words in this verse that have changed the way I understand and respond to this verse.  The first word is “as” and is used “… as Christ…”  This little word delivers a big meaning for me.  Look at how Strong’s defines it:

1 according as;  1A just as, even as; 1B in proportion as, in the degree that.

Look at 1B, “in proportion as“, or “in the degree that.”  Just inserting it into the verse changes it.  “… love your wives, in proportion as Christ loved the church…”

The second word is “gave.”  The idea of the word here is to give into the hands of another.  Its the same idea behind the word betray.  Inserting this thought into the verse would render it something like this.  “… and gave himself into the hands of another for her,…”

Interesting thought.  It just implies giving up ones self.  We know Christ gave himself to be beaten, scourged, ridiculed, and crucified, but he also gave of himself, 24×7.  When Jesus goes off to pray, it’s always in the wee hours of the morning.  I wonder if that’s because that was the only time he had for himself, because he gave his life away… literally.  He gave every moment of his life away.

Dr. Benjamin B. Phillips of Southwestern Theological Seminary wrote this in his Practical Theology class Spring 2007:

As recipients of God’s love we are expected to love (Matthew 5:44-48).   An example of this is in marriage. Husbands are to love their wives like Christ love the church. (Eph. 5:25). The word love in this instance is agape, which means seeking the highest good for another person. This love is revealed in the death and resurrection to life in Jesus Christ (1 John 4:9-11).  In our marriages we should not withhold love or affection because of circumstances that may arise. We must continue to love no matter how we are treated by our neighbor we must still love and be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:43-48). Our love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10).

This is how I am called to love my wife.  “… in the degree that Christ loved the church…”.

Here’s another point.  The church – the very one Christ gave his life for – is the very same church that beat him, scourged him, hated him, rejected him, and ultimately crucified him.  Hosea, by God’s calling, marries a prostitute and redeems her over and over to draw the picture of exactly what Christ did for the church.

This is how I am called to love my wife.  “… in the degree that Christ loved the church…”.

How does that look?  Its different for every husband.  Maybe its making the bed every moment.  Maybe its getting her a glass of water, even when it’s not a commercial.  Maybe its as Peter admonishes us:

1 Peter 3:7 (NLT) In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

Again, Dr. Phillips wrote this in his Practical Theology classes of Fall 2007 and Spring 2007, respectively:

As we examine the practical side of holiness we see that husbands must have an unselfish attitude towards their wives.  Christ gave himself to the church unselfishly and husband must do the same with their wives. Husbands should be self-sacrificing and giving, Jesus Christ extended the greatest act of sacrifice and the giving of himself at Calvary.  Husbands are to be nourishing, cherishing as the Lord is to the church. Paul address the Colossians, he told the husbands, “husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them” (Colossians 3:19). He told them not to be harsh with them, which is not a sign of holiness. …  Jesus Christ loves the church so much that he caused himself to identify with it. To love our wives as Christ loves the church means to identify with them. Peter tells the husband that their relationship with their wives are so important that it effects there communication line with God, … The man of God must protect his family, to assist their personal growth. Christ’s goal for the church is to make her holy, “that he might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26).

In Ephesians 5, especially verses 25-27, Paul also contrasts the husband’s relationship with his wife with that of Christ with the  church.  Christ came to serve the church and to die for the church.  This is what Paul is calling the husbands to do for their wives.  The husbands should also be willing to put the needs of their wives before their own.  The husband’s role as head is a sacrificial one that should imitate how Christ loved his bride, the church.

I know partly what it looks like at my house (mostly because I don’t have it figured out yet).  I know this.  I have become a student of my wife.  I have looked with different and opened eyes at her and watched her… learning how I can better serve her and live with her with understanding.

This is how I am called to love my wife.  “… in the degree that Christ loved the church…”.

All that I am – continued…

We play the new testament while we sleep on my MP3 player each night.  This morning I woke up to the passage in Mark, where Jesus tells the Pharisee’s that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:29-31)

This certainly feeds into yesterday’s entry.  How do I praise him with all that I am?  By loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  This, of course, could fill pages and pages of blogs and books on the application of just that verse… and if fact, it does… The Bible IS the original blog detailing what that looks like.

For me, today, it is an active love.  It is choosing Him over me.  It is choosing others over me.  It is dying to self and letting Christ live through me; letting His humility and patience overtake my own fleshsuit and all the baggage it has with it.  It is remembering… remembering that MY righteous acts are like filthy rags to Him (Is 64:6).  It is remembering that I have indeed sinned, and continue to sin, and I need to be saved (Is 64:5). It is remembering that there is NO WAY I could do this life without Him and that my wisdom is foolishness to him (I Cor 1:24-25).

It’s remembering that He chose me.

Thank you Lord, for choosing me. Help me praise you with all that I am today, by loving you with all my heart, soul,  mind, and strength and by loving my neighbors as myself.  Help me to have an active love today, engaging in remembering You and all that you have done, are doing, and will do.  In Jesus name.  Amen.