Identity & Service (Heather)

Reflections on John 13:1-17
It’s amazing how we can read a passage of Scripture several times and still see things we have never seen before. The Word really is living and active {Hebrews 4:12}.
After being astounded at the love Jesus expressed in verse one, the second thing that stuck out to me was in verses three and four:
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.”
Jesus then washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus didn’t just see the suffering ahead, He saw the truth of His standing with God the Father and that He would be with the Father soon. The suffering was coming—that’s true, but there was another truth that wasn’t negated by suffering—Jesus was going back to the Father. Sometimes when I see suffering in my own life, it can cloud out everything else.
I think one of the reasons Jesus could approach suffering this way was because He was confident in His true identity. Jesus’ identity allowed Him to serve—even those who didn’t deserve it. He knew all things had been given into His hands. He knew who He was and why He was here on earth. And even though this group of his closest friends would hurt His heart by abandoning Him, He served them. He didn’t need to punish them. He came to take the punishment they deserved for them.

On the other hand, what are some things that you put your identity in that have hindered you from being able to serve others?

Love for God & Knowledge about God (Laura)

With the beginning of the Lenten season, I decided to read through the Gospel of John. Thanks to the library of books I have inherited through my husband, I have a copy of The NIV Application Commentary, by Gary M. Burge. I highly recommend it, but with a little caution. While I really enjoy it, there can be a temptation to immediately read what Burge says about Scripture rather than give time for the Holy Spirit to reveal more to you personally. I combat this temptation by reading a passage of Scripture, spending time journaling observations and reflections, and then reading the commentary. Burge’s book gives historical background for the passage, bridges the context for Scripture during that time until now, and provides commentary on the contemporary significance of the passage.
I started right at the beginning of John and read chapter 1. It is the story of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ disciples following Him. (Now would be a good time to take a minute or two and read John 1 in your Bible). What stood out to me the most was how each person experienced Jesus on their own.  Each person is invited to “come and see” Jesus and through their experience, know Him. What often helps me to stand firm in my faith is the confidence I have in my own experience of Christ, making it easy for me to relate to this part of Scripture. I believe others must also experience Christ themselves to know Him. As Burge said, people “must have a personal experience that completely reorients who they are” (p 81).  However, this was only half of Burge’s observation and I am so grateful for the challenge in the other half. 
The point I missed is the knowledge the disciples had in addition to their experience. Burge makes a list of all the names associated with Jesus in the first chapter:

– Messiah (v 20,41)
– the Prophet (v 21)
– Jesus (v 29)
– Lamb of God (v 29, 36)
– one who baptizes with the Spirit (v 33)
– chosen [Son] of God (v 34)
– rabbi/teacher (v 38, 49)
– Christ/anointed one (v 41)
– son of Joseph (v 45)
– Nazarene (v 45)
– Son of God (v 49)
– King of Israel (v 49)
– Son of Man (v 51) 

Isn’t that crazy? It puts me in awe of how Jesus filled each of those roles so perfectly and how He relates to us in so many different ways. What challenges me is how the disciples had scholastic insight into Jesus. When asked “Who is Jesus?” they had their experience to help answer as well as knowledge. I am called to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind(Luke 10:27). But how well do I really love the Lord with my mind? When people ask what my belief as a Christian is on dating, drinking, sex, or other things, do I know how to respond with the truth that Scripture teaches? Is there substance behind my love of God? My experiences can certainly play a role in my response, but the truth must be grounded in God’s Word.
“John the Baptist is not only experiencing personal self-effacement and an overwhelming desire to glorify Jesus, he can also give a correct theological explanation of who Jesus is. There is a theological substratum beneath his commitment. The same is true of the four men who follow in the story” (Burge p 85)

So the challenge I am facing is this: Is loving God a “spiritual mantra”(as Burge refers to it) or do I have and continue to seek more of the depth in understanding and knowing who I love?

A Saturday Story–Bree, VWC

Before coming to college I was pretty opposed to God. 
I came to Virginia Wesleyan College in the fall of 2012 and met so many angels; I heard someone say once, when God is loving on us He does it through people. I believe this in its entirety and am a colorful illustration of this phenomenon. I didn’t think the Christian community would ever accept me for who I had been or love me for my past or my current struggles. It was through Christ-like love shown by some beautiful women that I ended up at Cru’s winter conference, Radiate. I wasn’t really sure why I was there. It wasn’t until the second to last night during worship that something of indescribable beauty happened.  After three days of sermons about how we need to become restored in order to be restorers for Jesus we were invited to make a commitment to God– to do whatever He is urging us to. I grabbed my commitment card and followed suit with those around me by praying about the situation, asking for guidance and reassurance.  For some reason (I now know it was the unconditional love of God) I marked the box saying that I wanted to accept Jesus as my Savior.  In one whirlwind of a moment there was this small piece of paper staring at me from my lap proclaiming everything I had ever been uncomfortable with.  As I stood there, in the darkness of the room the background noise of mood setting music softened and became distant.  I felt this incredible warmth and completeness take over me.  Almost like a hug, but better.  It was so beautiful!  God was hugging me and telling me in the most Fatherly way that everything was going to be okay. And that He loves me.  And He always will.  How did He know that’s exactly what I needed?
Since this beautiful day I have grown even more in love with God. Every day I love him more and find beauty in his perfection. It’s hard to describe how much I love him.  Trusting him with every inch of my life is humbling.  He has given me a heart for His children all over the world- especially women in the Middle East. He is helping me love others selflessly and to trust him more and more.   
Thanks for reading my story!