What then is essential? Your purpose is love, pure and simple. Bind yourself to my Son, follow his ways, and live with integrity. Keep love as your goal. When you find yourself wandering away from love, come back again. Be cautious about chasing theological rabbit trails; too often, the motivation is pride. You use theological knowledge to make yourself appear better than others. Instead, remember who you are and who I have called you to be–a vessel of my love.
Listen, Beloved: I have not destined you for wrath, but salvation in my Son. I direct my anger against things that ensnare and seek to destroy my image-bearers. I hate sin because of the way it fractures people. To restore wholeness, I will unleash my anger against all things that threaten to disintegrate you. Keep encouraging one another, remember that I am doing what is necessary to make you whole.
I invite you to step into my peace. When it seems like everything around you is crumbling, and you feel overwhelmed, come and rest with me. Take a deep breath and lean into me. Listen to me tell you how much I love you and that no earthly problem can ever snatch you away. My steadfast love seems incomprehensible when everything seems to be falling apart, but I will never fail you. When it feels like your thoughts and emotions are getting the best of you, look to the cross.
“If I had not come and showed them the Father and the Messiah’s identity, they would have remained ignorant, but I have shown them, and still, they hate me. They have no excuse for their hatred now. Those who hate me hate the Father. I performed many works before them, things no one else can do, and even so, they reject me, revealing their hatred for the Father and me. Their rejection was also prophesied by the psalmist who wrote, ‘They hated me for no reason.'”
People do not want to accept the way of Christ, preferring religion built around performance, power, and position. My Son’s extravagant grace reflects my character, and still, they hate him. When you proclaim a message of love and belonging, you too will be a threat to the status quo. Many will brand you as a heretic and outside the pale of orthodox belief, but love is true holiness.
To often, I look around at those who profess to follow my Son, and their lives seem joyless. They bide their time in misery while hoping for heaven someday, but even their hopes are gray and colorless. Listen, eternity begins now. Start practicing joy-filled living. Have fun. Be creative. Let your true colors shine. You honor me when you are faithful to who I have created you to be.
“All things the Father gives me will be reconciled in me, never to be broken again. I came here at my Father’s will to do his redemptive work. His will is that I lose nothing that he has placed in my charge but restore everything on the last day. It is his will that everyone who sees me believes in what I am doing and will step into eternal life in our eternal kingdom.” Beloved, if you think back to John’s opening words, you will remember that I created all things through my Son. In celebrating my Son’s preeminence, the apostle Paul said that not only were all things made through him but for him. I honestly have all things in mind concerning my Son’s healing work. Shalom will reign once again as he reconciles heaven and earth. Do not limit your vision to small things; my kingdom’s realities are far more impressive than you could imagine.
The breaking of the second seal revealed the red horse. The second creature, with a loud voice, echoed the first saying, “Come.” The horse was frothy red like blood spilled upon the ground. I allowed the rider to steal peace from the earth as he wielded a great sword. The red horse, beloved, is violence and war, which stands in opposition to my kingdom.
People are often enamored by the vibrancy and power of the red horse. They come to believe that violence must be an appropriate way to establish justice. Look around you. Violence fills the world; the hoof prints of the red horse are everywhere. There are wars in every corner of the globe as nations go to battle. Violence fills your homes, your streets, and your very hearts. People use power and control to oppress, yet the people who hold power call their oppression “just.” Just war is a misnomer. There is no justice in committing violence against others.
Eugene Peterson wrote, “The perennial ruse is to glorify war so that we accept it as a proper means of achieving goals. But it is evil, and Christ opposes it. Christ does not sit on the red horse, ever.” Beloved, beware of becoming enamored by the red horse. Violence is not the way of my kingdom.
With a surge of adrenaline waking them up, the eleven were ready for action. They said, “Lord, is now the time to strike with the sword?” Peter cut off the servant’s right ear. Jesus stopped the retaliation. Following Jesus is not the way of violence, but peace. He said, “That’s enough.” He approached the bleeding man and, touching his ear, restored him. He did not leave the servant to suffer, even though the man was part of the mob who had come to arrest him. My kingdom is always about restoring wholeness.
Beloved, be committed to my kingdom, knowing that I am committed to you. Take risks, and love big. Yes, you may fail, but I am delighted when you are acting out of love for my Son. Here is the thing, I know you will not be perfect. No one is. Too many people are afraid to risk vulnerability or try new things because they are worried about my disapproval. I have given you a vibrant life. You are uniquely you, but you are not investing in love when you hide from me, others, or even from yourself. I always welcome your true self, warts and all. I want you to come and dance, even if you step on a few toes. The blessing is in the journey, not the accomplishment. I want you to show up and live.