Showing Yourselves to be Disciples

I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately — not a romantic response or a movement of emotion that fades as quickly as it came, but love in a context for others. Those whose thoughts and ideals may not align with mine.

In Australia right now like many other nations we’re confronted with ideals that are in conflict with the community of faith. Freedoms on all sides are being fought for, interest groups take their position to defend, there is an anger and aggression that causes me to just feel uneasy. And so, I’m forced to check myself in the midst of values and theology.

The question is not just what am I fighting for, but more importantly who am I fighting? Still further, I’m in need of asking if love motivates my response, then maybe I shouldn’t be fighting at all.

I read a Ken Blanchard blog recently in which he said, “loving others is a natural overflow of our love for God.”

My prayer is that God will make this real to me, if I can see my friends and family, neighbours and the wider community through this filter I would be the richer for it.

In his book ‘Soul Cravings’, Erwin McManus writes: “Love always grows, not just deeper but wider. Love calls us to community, love calls us to humanity, love calls us to each other.”

I’m moved by Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John where He uses the vine as an analogy. He is the vine, God is the Gardener and we need to bear fruit. We do this by being a disciple, discipleship is something that’s ‘seen’ and not just ‘declared.’

John 15:8: “This is to my father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

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Alarmed!

2 Chronicles 20 — let me set the scene, Jehoshaphat is a real God man. He walks with integrity and righteousness and loves the Lord and His statutes. Here, Jehoshaphat finds himself in trouble in the form of Moabites and Amonites. These guys are tribal, fierce and worthy of worry. They know war and they are ready to rage against this king of Judah. But God speaks and makes a promise ‘do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’ (2 Chronicles 20:15).

Have you ever found yourself in a battle that God wasn’t in? I have often thought that we fight battles that are not ours. As the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness God moved in order to break them out. Guiding them as only He could, and so they passed through a place called Ezion Geber where the enemy lived and God instructed them not to harass or provoke them to war. (Deuteronomy 2:8-9).

In other words, don’t pick a fight that I’m not in! So many times, we find ourselves engaged in battles we were never supposed to be in. Arguments that required an attacking posture, when what is really needed is a peaceful approach.

We often want to defend God rather than represent Him. We lock in on social media discussions that become debates and look more like choosing sides than showing love. If you find yourself in the middle of a fight best to ask yourself is God on your side?

Back to Jehoshaphat and his pickle. He rises early prepared to trust God and his promise, standing in faith he puts together a worship team charged to sing (if you haven’t caught Norma’s blog titled ‘Sing To Win’ hit the search function, it’s a great read!) They sing, and God sets an ambush and the fight is won while Jehoshaphat collects the spoils of war, letting God win the battle. Such a great story!

But it’s before God fought on their behalf that grabs my attention today. It’s even before God gave them the promise of victory that set-in motion the miracle. 2 Chronicles 20:1-3, ‘after this, the Moabites and the Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “a vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar. Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord…’ if you like to write in your bible like I do, underline, highlight, draw stars around that statement, ‘Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord.’

What we do in our fear and uncertainty often determines the path we take, the decisions we make. Like all of us there are times I lean on God and there are times where I go it alone. I fight battles that aren’t mine to fight, I make decisions that aren’t God’s best for me based on what I do when I’m alarmed and afraid.

The greatest part of this story is sometimes we just need to let God fight our battles. Whether that be in our relationships, our work place, in our dreams and desires, as they seem impossible or too far away. In our social media platforms and the forums where we try to defend God rather than be His ambassador.

Before we fight, can we inquire of the Lord, should we make sure our ambitions are biblically motivated so our discussions are based on love? Can we go to God and get His sign off before we commit? Can we leave the fight with Him?

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians wrote this ‘do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving present your requests to God.

Nathan