I wanted to know what The Most Important thing was, which of all God’s words was the greatest? What it was most crucial to follow.
Jesus summed it all up in two phrases for me, Love God with everything you have got and love your neighbour as yourself.
So ‘all’ I have got to do is love God, my neighbour and myself.
It sounds so easy put like that, I could not disagree.
But actually, when you think about it, that is the whole world, it encapsulates everyone.
Love of God is at the root, in that is the love for the rest. If my focus is on loving God, love for everyone else should flow through that.
If I can love myself, in the knowledge of the depths of God’s love for me, I should be able to dwell in that love, soak in it, so that love overflows in me onto all those around me.
All bound together in a circle of love, mutual support and fellowship.
Lord, may I learn to truly love you, that you are the most important thing in my life, and I may give you all that I am.
I come to let you love me. To stay here, as your arms stretch out and hold me tight – comforting, healing, warming, letting me know that I am known and loved.
May I allow your love to sink deep into me. And from there, may I be at the point of being able to love others, from the security of knowing what I mean to you.
The Greatest Commandment
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
The Question about David’s Son
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’ ”? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’ No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
This is the transcript for my post for today on our circuit ‘Going Deeper’ daily posts.
I’m just going to go straight in to the reading today. It is ‘one of those’ passages in the bible. You might have a knee jerk reaction to it, but we need to look further than that, beyond the first sentence. Anyway, here goes.
Wives and Husbands
3 In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word, 2 because they will see how pure and reverent your conduct is. 3 You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. 4 Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. 5 For the devout women of the past who placed their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful by submitting themselves to their husbands. 6 Sarah was like that; she obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are now her daughters if you do good and are not afraid of anything.
7 In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God’s gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers.
Suffering for Doing Right
8 To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. 9 Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. 10 As the scripture says,
“If you want to enjoy life and wish to see good times, you must keep from speaking evil and stop telling lies. 11 You must turn away from evil and do good; you must strive for peace with all your heart. 12 For the Lord watches over the righteous and listens to their prayers; but he opposes those who do evil.”
“Use today’s set reading from the Prayer Handbook” the Superintendents said.
Nothing controversial to see here – at all! When I had stopped laughing, I did look more closely.
Perhaps the most important part are the first four words, “in the same way”. Before we get our chunter on, we ought to find out to what Peter is alluding. This is not the start of the letter, but part way through. We are not reading this passage in isolation; it follows on from the chapter before. He has been giving instructions to different people about how to live out their Christian faith. This is new to all of them, they are all working it out, and so Peter is sharing some helpful reflections on how that might be, based on how Jesus lived, and died.
So, in the same way as what? He is pointing to Christ’s suffering, all that he gave for us, and that being our model for Christian living, especially amongst those that do not have that faith.
It would probably surprise most people to know that when Paul and I married 35 years ago, I opted to have the “honour and obey” vows in the service. It was an option, but I deliberately chose to do that. I think I shocked most people at the time doing that! Perhaps it is especially because I am, and always have been known to be a ‘Strong Yorkshire Woman’ that it seemed important to me to make that point, that we were in this together, it was not, and is not my show.
The rationale Peter gives behind this instruction is that it is about your conduct, how you live. This passage is actually written in the context of a believing woman being married to a non-Christian husband. She is not to use her faith as an excuse to pull against the marriage or her husband, but by quietly getting on with it, working together, she will bear testimony to that faith. Living in the kind of way that makes someone else ask questions about why you behave as you do and seeing God in that, is a powerful lifestyle.
The next part becomes is equally as contentious – don’t use adornments to make yourself beautiful. I do not live in the world of false everything and the latest high fashions, but I do like to look nice. Something we have all stressed about during lockdown is our hair, and I have certainly been glad to get mine mowed and back into some sort of tidiness, if different.
I take this advice to pertain to not wasting time, energy and resources on all manner of ‘improvements’ when your life is not right. We know the saying that true beauty comes from within, and I think this is what Peter is getting at. True beauty comes from doing the right thing, living a good way – God’s way, sharing, loving, and seeking to bless others.
The advice does eventually turn to men, and how they should live as husbands. In the time it was written, this would have been quite revolutionary news to men. They would have been used to treating women as possessions, required to do their bidding. But if a woman is being asked to obey her husband, he has to be acting the right way for that to be safe and sensible.
So man are asked to treat their wives with respect. Life is a joint effort with God.
The whole premise of this is then widened out much further – love one another, be kind and humble, don’t pay back evil with evil, but with a blessing. All a very sound sensible way to live for all of society – essential if you are a Christian.
So from anger, frustration, despair at how outdated this advice is, perhaps we have managed to glean some important things for human, Christ based, living for today. And that can never do us any harm!
Lord, you ask us to love, to live beautiful lives, to live your way. To live together in mutual respect.
Teach me to learn to live your ways, to be a blessing with those I live amongst, may my behaviour point always to you.
Today’s song suggestion: Love God Love People by Danny Gokey
8 Then, a new king, who knew nothing about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9 He said to his people, “These Israelites are so numerous and strong that they are a threat to us. 10 In case of war they might join our enemies in order to fight against us, and might escape from the country. We must find some way to keep them from becoming even more numerous.” 11 So the Egyptians put slave drivers over them to crush their spirits with hard labor. The Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses to serve as supply centers for the king. 12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, the more they increased in number and the farther they spread through the land. The Egyptians came to fear the Israelites 13-14 and made their lives miserable by forcing them into cruel slavery. They made them work on their building projects and in their fields, and they had no pity on them.
15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to Shiphrah and Puah, the two midwives who helped the Hebrew women. 16 “When you help the Hebrew women give birth,” he said to them, “kill the baby if it is a boy; but if it is a girl, let it live.” 17 But the midwives were God-fearing and so did not obey the king; instead, they let the boys live. 18 So the king sent for the midwives and asked them, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting the boys live?”
19 They answered, “The Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they give birth easily, and their babies are born before either of us gets there.” 20-21 Because the midwives were God-fearing, God was good to them and gave them families of their own. And the Israelites continued to increase and become strong. 22 Finally the king issued a command to all his people: “Take every newborn Hebrew boy and throw him into the Nile, but let all the girls live.”
The Birth of Moses
2 During this time a man from the tribe of Levi married a woman of his own tribe, 2 and she bore him a son. When she saw what a fine baby he was, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could not hide him any longer, she took a basket made of reeds and covered it with tar to make it watertight. She put the baby in it and then placed it in the tall grass at the edge of the river. 4 The baby’s sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him.
5 The king’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her servants walked along the bank. Suddenly she noticed the basket in the tall grass and sent a slave woman to get it. 6 The princess opened it and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked her, “Shall I go and call a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Please do,” she answered. So the girl went and brought the baby’s own mother. 9 The princess told the woman, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So she took the baby and nursed him. 10 Later, when the child was old enough, she took him to the king’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. She said to herself, “I pulled him out of the water, and so I name him Moses.”
He didn’t know why there were so many Israelites in Egypt. He didn’t know how Joseph had saved us, that it is because him any of us are still here, that he was the one who organised us in our fight against the famine, he was the reason we didn’t starve. His family prospered only because we all did.
But this king knew nothing of that. he saw only those he perceived as ‘foreigners’ overrunning ‘his’ land; People he thought of as ‘other’ prospering where he thought his people should be.
In fear he acted to keep them down, crush their spirit, make life difficult, reduce their numbers.
Yet the more he oppressed them, the greater they grew. Hard work, menial tasks and slave labour could not keep them down.
So he thought he would go straight to the route of the problem. Get rid of every new born male. That should soon bring them into line, stop them growing.
But he hadn’t reckoned with the love of one woman, unwilling to let her child go, and another who felt the same. A baby kept safe by his mother, discovered by the Princess and kept safe. However much her father considered him other, she now called him her own. One of the very children the King was trying to rid himself of, ultimately brought up under his own roof.
Man plots, but God will always find a way.
Forgive me Lord, when I fear the other, their success and well being.
Save me, when I jump to conclusions without finding out the truth.
Forgive me when I act from what I think I know and make others suffer.
Thank you for those who love and those who have courage to stand up for that love.
Bless those who are care givers, whatever the situation.
Thank you that you are always working.
1. Almighty Father, who dost give The gift of life to all who live, Look down on all earth’s sin and strife, And lift us to a nobler life.
2. Lift up our hearts, O King of kings, To brighter hopes and kindlier things; To visions of a larger good, And holier dreams of brotherhood.
3. Thy world is weary of its pain; Of selfish greed and fruitless gain; Of tarnished honor, falsely strong, And all its ancient deeds of wrong.
4. Hear Thou the prayer Thy servants pray, Uprising from all lands today, And o’er the vanquished powers of sin, O bring Thy great salvation in.