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Friday, May 13, 2016

Unseen, Yet Loved

It's about that time we have made it to the end of the week it's FRIDAY! as we prepare ourselves for the weekend let's take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom. Read: 1 Peter 1:1-9 Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 17-18; John 3:19-36 Though you have not seen him, you love him. —1 Peter 1:8 Like others in the blogging community, I’d never met the man known to us as BruceC. Yet when his wife posted a note to the group to let us know that her husband had died, a string of responses from distant places showed we all knew we had lost a friend. BruceC had often opened his heart to us. He talked freely about his concern for others and what was important to him. Many of us felt like we knew him. We would miss the gentle wisdom that came from his years in law enforcement and his faith in Christ. In recalling our online conversations with BruceC, I gained a renewed appreciation for words written by a first-century witness of Jesus. In the first New Testament letter the apostle Peter wrote, he addressed readers scattered throughout the Roman Empire: “Though you have not seen [Christ], you love him” (1 Peter 1:8). Peter, as a personal friend of Jesus, was writing to people who had only heard about the One who had given them reason for so much hope in the middle of their troubles. Yet, as a part of the larger community of believers, they loved Him. They knew that at the price of His own life, He had brought them into the everlasting family of God. —Mart DeHaan Lord, we have never seen You, yet we believe in You and love You. Strengthen our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ who love You as well. Make us one community in You. Our love for Christ is only as real as our love for our neighbor. INSIGHT: Why was there so much tension between Jewish and Gentile followers of Christ? In part, the answer is found in how ancient Israel had come to understand their relationship with God. As His “chosen people,” Israel had been given the law of Moses and a land of promise in order for them to live in relationship with God and with one another. Clearly, no other people group was given this unique access to and relationship with God. This relationship, however, was never intended to be simply for their benefit. As they lived in covenant relationship with God, they were also intended to draw the surrounding Gentile nations to the God who sought relationship with them as well. The prophet Isaiah had taught them, “He says, ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth’” (Isa. 49:6). As a result, Israel’s relationship with God had a missional element to it—to bring the nations to the Creator who loved them. By the time of Christ, however, this mission had not only been lost, it had been turned inside out. In the minds of the Jewish people, Gentiles had become enemies of God’s people rather than objects of God’s love. Perhaps that is why Jesus reached out to Gentiles wherever He went: a Roman centurion, a Samaritan woman, a Canaanite woman, and more. The Son of God was teaching us by example that He had come for the lost sheep of Israel, but that He had also come to bring light to the world (John 8:12; 9:5). The heart of His children should reflect the heart of His Father, who is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Reflection Questions How does Jesus’s attitude toward “outsiders” inform our love for those who do not yet know Him? Are there people in your life you have been hesitant to reach out to? How can we, in prayer, seek the help and heart of our loving Father to reach out to those who need the Savior? For further study on this important topic, read the free Discovery Series booklet How Can I Break the Silence?

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