Commands, Rebukes & Life-giving Promises

I realised something this week: the way I read my Bible & hear God’s voice has completely changed over the last few years.

I noticed it as I was reading 1 Peter & came across this verse: ‘Be holy as I am holy’. Now, the way I used to read this & hear God’s voice in it, was a command. God commanding me to live a holy life because He is a holy God. But I don’t read it like that anymore.

This week as I read those words, I was aware that I was hearing a tone of promise not command. I was hearing life-giving, fully transforming words where Jesus was declaring over me ‘Be holy’ much like he would declare healing over someone – ‘Be whole’ – not a command to them to make it happen, but a declaration of life over them – ‘This is what I’m saying you can be & now are’. Why? Because He is holy. His DNA is holy & that very DNA is in me. I get to be holy not because I try to be but because He has put His DNA in me & therefore I will be holy. I hope this makes sense to you – a promise, not a command.

I realise too that I now read words that I used to see as rebuke – words like ‘Go & sin no more’ – as promise not rebuke. Again, Jesus releasing life-giving transforming words over the hearer. Because He says it, power is released to accomplish it and therefore it’s a promise not rebuke.

What enables us to access the power of the promise is how we hear the words. If we hear Jesus’ words as command or rebuke that’s all the power we will encounter. But if we recognise in His words transforming power (which is His intention) and take hold of his words as such, explosive miraculous life will lay hold of us.

I wonder, what is Jesus saying to you today? If it’s ‘Stop sinning’, it’s not a rebuke but a word of empowerment – releasing over you the power needed to stop sinning. If it’s ‘Lay hold of me’, it’s not a command but a promise – he is to be found by you. If it’s ‘Run faster’ (ooh such a goody!!), it’s not a rebuke or command but a word of supernatural acceleration.

Hear his intended tone & you will reap his intended purpose: life and life in all its fullness.

A Simple Impossible Life

It’s been a while since i wrote anything on this blog.  Life’s been busy.  I’ve been easily distracted.  But here we go, let me catch you up on something my heart’s been pondering over –

A little while ago i was reading from 1 John and stumbled upon some words that have got lodged into me.  Words that provoke me with their simultaneous simplicity yet impossibility.  Words that make me want to live differently and fill me with hope because i know i was created to live differently – everything God has put in me is enough to see these impossible words come to reality.

‘And this is His [the Father’s] commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another’ – 1 John 3:23 (ESV)

Now at first glance you may be wondering why these words have stopped me in my tracks and are filling my thoughts – they’re so basic.  But i think that’s why they’ve got me.  In reading these words i started thinking about what my every day moments would look like if i actually did both of the things i’m commanded to.  What would my internal life look like and what would my interactions with the world outside me look like if my moments were motivated by living out these two things?

What does it look like for me to really BELIEVE Jesus in my everyday moments?  For me to put my full weight of belief on Him? To believe what He says about Himself – that He’s good – really good – not just a little bit good but so lavishly good that He takes my breath away; that He’s strong enough for all my weakness and in fact most glorified if i press into Him in the moments where i come face to face with my greatest inadequacies; that He’s kind and loving and gracious and full of laughter and the only one i need with me in a storm.  And what does it look like for me to really believe Jesus about what He says about me? – that i’m wonderfully made; that i can live truly free – free from fear, free from enslavement to man’s thinking and expectations and ‘wisdom’; that i’m powerful because His power is at work in me; that there’s God’s very DNA coursing with life in me prepared to take impossibilities and make them possible.

And what would my world look like if i learnt to really love others?  Not just those i like.  Not just those i find convenient.  But really lived in a place of loving the people i meet every day, every moment?  Love may look different in each different moment depending on the person before me and the needs of their heart.  But i wonder, could i really be the sort of person who truly LOVES people, all the time?

And herein lies the reason for me finding these words stuck in my heart and echoing in my brain.  The sheer impossibility of being a woman who lives her life according to these simple words staggers me.  A woman who would believe Him and love others with all her heart.  Now that seems a simple but tall order.

But the more i think about what God has promised for those of us who have put trust in Him, the more i realise that i don’t have to pray to become this person, but i get to embrace myself as this person because that is the reality of God giving me His nature.  His nature at work in me is overflowing with belief. His nature at work in me is the very essence of love.  And so my prayers have become less striving – ‘Oh God, turn me into a believing, loving person’ to ‘Oh God, help me embrace my real identity, because my new nature from You is a fully believing and loving person’.  Subtle difference in words but massive difference in the fruit.  I’m now staggered not only by the impossibility of the command, but more so by the graciousness of a good, good Father who has created in me the very nature able to live out that impossibility.

I want to encourage you today – won’t you join me in entering the adventure of living this simple, impossible life?  A life where really all our moments boil down to us believing Him and loving others?  Let’s make it our day’s mission to be more of who we have been made to be – fully believing, fully loving.  And so the simple impossible life will ever so steadily become our reality.