24 June 2015

Remember These Words For the Time to Come

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits.  Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles."

Nor will love be seen coming from the hearts of those who are fallen into wickedness:  they are the fruit of hate, deceit, greed, fear, pride, possession, and aggression.  And they will not only forsake love by washing their hands of it,  they will eventually come to condemn it, unless they relent from their folly, and thereby condemn themselves.
For all the people of God, love is the touchstone of our faith, the way to know if what we believe is with Him, or with something else; if we are walking with Him, or with something else; if the one who speaks is speaking for Him, or for something else; if we are keeping Him in our hearts, or something else; if we love Him, or ourselves, or something else.

Love does not speak with hate or fear or derision, but with a fullness of existence.  And that love is ridiculed and trampled, and can only be counterfeited but never achieved, by that which is opposed to His creation.

When you are in doubt or confusion about what is true and what is false, look for the light of love.  This is the hallmark of the spirit.   And if it is not there, if it is wrapped in the hardness of pride disguised even as an elaborate ritual observance and pharisaical pride, then you will know what it truly is.  It is a sin against the spirit. 

Love is not easy; it is not a natural state. It seems weak and foolish, and even despicable to the fallen and the world. 

It is a disposition of the mind and the heart, and an act of acceptance of grace not by but through the will. It is a shield against temptation. It is a habit of acting and looking at things, that can become easier and more comfortable as we carry that yoke or restraint on our weaker nature and our harsher emotions. Over time that yoke becomes lighter, and a light to steady us in life's darker moments.
But it is rarely easy or natural, which makes it the stuff of the brave, of the spiritually and emotionally hardy, of God's knights.  The way of the world, of anger and oppression, is the easy path not of the truly human, but of darker things.
So we must remember we are sinners, but reaching out to the eternal, and thereby attempting great things, if but clumsily and with a number falls like the apostle himself.

This is how the people of God may guide themselves and their own actions along the way. If there is no love evident in the words and the heart, then the words and the actions are not of God, but of something else.

Love is not what we do, but how we do what we do. Love is found in the most ordinary things, not in grand gestures and elaborate mannerisms, but in the small daily acts of kindness and fellowship, done lovingly and with care, for His sake.   It is how we carry our cross, not in front of a cheering crowd, but in the quiet moments, and the little things, while walking with Him.

We do not need to hate and reject the world, and despise and subdue His creation. They are a gift from God, to which we bring our own good use and order in His name.  And if we are wise, with our reverent wonder. We can work with His gifts lovingly, and not abuse them from excess and greed.
It is not the world that is a source of evil, but the willfulness of our hearts, made hard with pride. Only love is creative and productive.  Only love is accepting and uplifting, able to bring all things forward to His plan and make them new.  Love consecrates, while sin desecrates and destroys in its lust for possession and the will to power.

Obviously this law of love is applicable to all people, but is addressed particularly here to those who hearts have been already touched, in a time of spiritual wickedness, and dark powers in high places. 
God is the essence of all existence, which is His love.  The pity for those who would otherwise be faithful, then, is not to love.

"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the fullness comes, the partial will come to an end.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."