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(Part 10)


Holy Trinity Sunday
May 31, 2015

Today’s reading: Matthew 28:16-20

We are commissioned to do worldwide evangelization. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (v.19a). In our understanding this, a major aspect is the intimate connection with the Trinity. We are to baptize the nations “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (v.19b). The three Persons of the Trinity are intimately connected with the work of evangelization. The Father desires to bring us back to Himself and so sent His very own Son to suffer and die for us and thus win for us our salvation. The Son made the supreme sacrifice of giving his own life, and with his resurrection has become our Savior and our Lord. The Holy Spirit guides us to all truth and equips and empowers us to go forth to become effective witnesses to Jesus.

So we are commissioned. But at times, even as we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, even as we understand that we are called to proclaim his salvation, we might doubt. “When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.” (v.17). The Greek verb for “doubt” occurs in the New Testament only in one other place, in Matthew 14:31, applied by Jesus to Peter for his little faith. To effectively do the work of evangelization is a great act of faith. Our little faith is one obstacle we need to overcome.

How do we manifest little faith?
When we are too awed by the call to rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization and doubt our capability to accomplish such a great task.
When we are intimidated by our opponent the devil and the worldly powers at his bidding and doubt how effective in our work we can be, and thus hold back or not live out mountain-moving faith.
When we look to our own weaknesses and lack of resources and conclude that we can only do so much, much less than what God would want to accomplish through us.
When we look at the darkness and evil in the world, and the reality that many Christians today are lapsed and not practicing, and thus decide that bringing in a rich harvest is unrealistic.
We must understand the truth that when God commands us to do something, He would enable us to accomplish that. And so Jesus says, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (v.18). Now that is mighty and all-encompassing power! And that is the power given to us by Jesus, in order to accomplish his work, in order to step into his sandals and continue what he has started and accomplish his will. God wants all to be saved, and that is why the Father sent His very own Son. Now Jesus has entrusted to us the proclamation of that saving message, and sent his Spirit to accompany us. This work of evangelization is all-important, and thus we are empowered.

In his public ministry, Jesus sent his disciples on practicum, and they actually drove out demons! Now Jesus sends us. But he is still there with us, through the Holy Spirit. “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (v.20b). He is observing how we carry out our commission. Let not Jesus tell us, just like he told Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Let us now bring in that harvest.

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(Part 9)
(Part 12)


January 9, 2013
Today’s reading: 1 John 4:11-18

Jesus restored us to our relationship with the Father. At the core of our Christian faith is this relationship. It is a relationship of love--God’s love for us and our love for God, with God acting first and unilaterally. “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.” (1 Jn 4:16a). How can we be assured that this mutual love is in place? Well, God’s love is already proven, and so it is up to us to respond in love. How can we be assured that we are with God and He is with us?

It is when we love. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1 Jn 4:16b). The one basic identifying characteristic of God is that He is love. God created us out of love. God redeemed us out of love. God will bring us to heaven because of love. If we are children of God, if we are made in the image and likeness of God, if we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, then we must love. If and when we do, then God remains in us and we in Him.

This love is manifested in three basic ways.

One, it is accepting that Jesus is our Savior. “Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.” (1 Jn 4:14-15). God so loved the world that He sent His own Son Jesus to suffer and die for us. God loved us first. We love Him in return. We recognize His love through the supreme sacrifice on the cross. So we accept Jesus as Savior.

Two, it is looking to the Spirit. “This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 Jn 4:13). Jesus won for us our salvation. But we need to work at that salvation in order to finally make it to heaven. It is the Holy Spirit that Jesus sends who enables and empowers us. God the Son who loved us so much that he gave his very life for us is he who promised to be with us until the end of the age, doing so with his Spirit. So we live a life in the Holy Spirit.

Three, it is loving one another. “Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 Jn 4:12b). It is easy and difficult to love God. It is easy because God is lovable. It is hard because we do not see Him, nor interact with Him in the way we do with friends and loved ones. “No one has ever seen God.” (1 Jn 4:12a). But the Trinity is love, and God has already manifested His love for the world in Jesus and the Spirit. Now the manifestation of God’s love in us is our love for one another. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” (1 Jn 4:11).

Such Christian love for others is very difficult, because people are not always so lovable. But if God’s love is to remain in us, then we must love one another. It is precisely when we strive to love, despite the difficulty, that our love grows, according to the very love of God. “In this is love brought to perfection among us” (1 Jn 4:17a). It is precisely when we love one another that we see the love of God--Father, Son, Spirit--truly at work in us.

When such Trinitarian love is in us, then we know that we are growing to be like God, and we know that we will make it to heaven. As such, “we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 Jn 4:17b).

Love for others is a great challenge. We could be rejected. We could be hurt. We could be betrayed. But it is right for us to love, because God has loved us. And if the untoward incidents happen, then those would be just more occasions by which we grow in unilateral, unconditional, self-sacrificial love, which is the very love of God for us. Thus we can more and more experience the perfection of our imperfect human love. So we must never be afraid to love. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” (1 Jn 4:18).

Let us strive to be perfect in love.

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