What does God say about the heart of the matter?
The Bible is a beautiful tapestry, with many threads woven through it, one of those threads being God sharing what is most important in this life.
Jesus is the cornerstone upon which everything else is built, Lk 20:17, "And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?" This cornerstone, which the Pharisees rejected, is not just our savior, He is our Lord, Jn 20:28, "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." This is Thomas calling Jesus His Lord and God. For three years, Thomas, who walked with Jesus, witnessed the miracles, saw Him crucified and now had seen Him resurrected. Thomas, who put his hands in Jesus' wounds and then called Him Lord. Jesus uses this moment to reach across the centuries to give us a message, Jn 20:29, "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." He is our Lord, our creator, and He knows all of the elements necessary for His family to joyfully live together for all eternity. When we abide in Him, He guides us to the joyful life we seek, the life we yearn for because He planted eternity in our hearts. CS Lewis expressed it this way, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” It is impossible to fill the space God has created in our hearts to house eternity with anything less than Him, His love, and His Kingdom. Without God in our lives, we will try to fill that void with things, people, money, travel, social media, drugs, sex, rock'n'roll, etc., but they all disappear in the vastness of eternity; leaving us feeling alone, again, and desperately seeking something.
Jesus asks us to abide in Him, Jn 15:4, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." which leads us to live the fruit of the Spirit; Gal 5:22-23, 25, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." and the fruit of the Spirit quiets our souls by filling eternity with God's love. God has invited us to eternity, and everyone there will be living the fruit of the Spirit. So, if we refuse to abide in Him, we will not be fit for eternity, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
Jesus never changes, Heb 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." and when we follow Him, we are no longer driven by the winds of current circumstances and opinions. Paul understood abiding, Gal 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Paul felt Jesus living in him. Once we abide in Him, we feel Jesus living in us. The moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we begin transforming into citizens fit to live with His eternal family.
It is fascinating to witness our individual uniqueness, created in His image, yet all very different. When we love God, we become puzzle pieces fitting together perfectly to joyfully reflect His love in everything we do; shining His light to draw others to Him, 1 Cor 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Ultimately, together we form a body perfectly reflecting God and all of His love. This is the life we have been created to live, 2 Cor 5:20, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." This is the life that brings us an ever-increasing joy for all eternity. It is the abiding that gives us the pleasure of doing His Will. This pleasure comes from the excitement we witness in the eyes of a virtuoso playing their favorite piece. We are witnessing a God-given talent on display, and we all share in their joy. God created each of us to be a virtuoso in some part of our lives. We just have to be willing to accept His gift and nurture it until it blossoms. This is the truth I experienced when I was in my grandmother's presence. She was a virtuoso at cooking and loving others, and everyone shared in her joy.
Abiding means we obey, and the difference between Christian obedience, which leads to joy, and any other kind, is that one is a choice born of love, and the other is a form of slavery. This is true because Christian love includes all forms of selfless love, and everything else called love demonstrates selfishness, depending on some repayment for the benevolence shown. Divorce reflects a lack of Christian love. One or both of the partners no longer sees the benefit in the relationship. When both partners are genuinely following Christ, there is no need for divorce, for both are selflessly more concerned with their partner's happiness than their own. This is part of what God meant when He said, Gen 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." for when we realize we are created in His image and have become one flesh, we would never consider severing part of ourselves because we saw a part we liked better.
Our choice is to abide or to rebel. God has given each of us a part to play in building His kingdom and is calling us to His Word, which provides us with directions on completing our part, Is 48:17, "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go." Following Him means we love each other and support each other. Jesus told us we are either with Him or against Him, Matt 12:30, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." We will either abide and gather with Him; or rebel and scatter His children abroad. Everything else is a temporary illusion.
Ps 16:6, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." David learned to love God and His commandments, Ps 19:7, 10, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." The commandments God gave to His children in the desert were simple, only ten. Jesus simplified them to only two, Matt 22:37-40, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Some think the Bible is complicated or confusing because of the old languages, however, Jesus simplified things. Abiding starts with these two commandments.
We have been designed for eternity, and nothing short of it will continually satisfy us, Gal 6:7-8, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." nor will anything else bring us the ever-increasing joy that awaits. We can look around at what God has created. It appears endless, beyond our ability to imagine and explore. And, He designed it to last for a few thousand years. Can we imagine what He will create for our eternal home? Is 66:22, "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain." and 2 Pet 3:13, "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain." A place without limits, offering endless exploration and creativity. We struggle to find the limits of this creation, much like Truman did in the movie. Once Truman found the limits, oh how it changed everything for him. He was no longer satisfied with his life. We will not find the outer limits of this creation, only our own limits defined by our desire to rebel. Rebelling leads us away from joy and satisfaction toward the realization that we can never be satisfied outside of our abiding in His love. For without it, like Truman, we are left with an empty feeling of loss. We will always want more, something different.
The peace and joy God offers are found in the truth He is God, Jn 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." and our joy will continue to increase, for all eternity, from the moment we embrace this truth. Think about it, no end to discovering new things and ideas, no end to our imagining and then creating, each goal set and completed leading to yet another. God's eternal calling leads to an ever more enjoyable life, for our brains will no longer deteriorate, and we will be building on an unlimited capacity to learn, forever. Each new skill learned helps us create even more incredible future skill and achievements. No end to the glory before us, Jn 17:22-23, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
We can never experience ever-increasing joy without our eternal God, Is 57:15, "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." God created, then enjoyed the experience, Gen 1:31, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." This foreshadows what we will experience for all eternity. He wants our joy to be full, Jn 15:11, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
We will either abide or rebel, and that is the heart of the matter.
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