Only someone who is silent is listening….Thus, the world reveals itself to the silent listener and only to him; the more silently he listens, the more purely is he able to perceive reality. – Josef Pieper
The Teacher sits
like a child
on the floor
in a room
standing above him.
He speaks of life
in terms so clear
they largely laugh
or coo in baby talk,
unheard by those standing
This is the way
to wisdom’s womb:
like a little child;
lurk beyond detection
and crawl inside listening Love.
- Answer one of the following questions:
- Who do you find it most difficult to love? Why?
- When have you felt most loved in your life? Why was that?
- This week in our series, “Jesus Changes Everything,” we look at various Scripture passages in order to better understand what it means to love people like God. Whether you are on your own or with a small group, begin your study in prayer and ask God to draw you into His truth and life.
- In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus summarizes all the commandments of God with the call to love God with all of who we are and our neighbor as ourselves. In 1 John 4:9, the Apostle John tells us that God showed His love among us by sending His Son into the world. What do you think it means to learn about love from Jesus?
- Take a moment to read Matthew 4:1-11. Before His public ministry, the devil tests Jesus to accomplish God’s purposes in a manner that was not God’s way. What were the main temptations placed before Jesus? How did He resist these temptations?
- In contrast to the devil’s temptation, we want to learn how Jesus actually exhibits God’s love to the world. One way to do this would be to read through one of the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and highlight or write down notes on how you see Jesus relating to people. For the sake of this study, let’s just look at four chapters of the Gospel of John. Read through each of these chapters and identify specific characteristics of Jesus’ love for others:
- John 3:1-21 – Jesus with Nicodemus, the religious teachers
- John 4:1-38 – Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well
- John 5:1-15 – Jesus with the invalid at the Bethesda Pool
- John 9:1-41 – Jesus with the man born blind and the religious leaders
- Stepping back from everything you just read, what do you notice most about Jesus’ love for others?
- What is one specific way that you need to grow in love that looks like Jesus’ love for people? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and then take extended time to pray about what you share. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.
I continued our series “Jesus Changes Everything” this weekend at Eastbrook Church by looking at what it means to have wide love like God. I cannot think of a better way to get at what God’s wide love looks like than to look at Jesus, who is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).
If you’re interested in getting to know us more at Eastbrook, please take a moment to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vimeo. You could also join our community by downloading the Eastbrook app.
Given my recent sermon, “Connecting Together,” on what it means to be the church, I wanted to share again some thoughts from one of my favorite thinkers on the church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His book Life Together is, in my opinion, the best book written on the nature of true community in the church. Here are 5 must-read statements on the Church from Bonhoeffer:
- “Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world.” [26-27]
- “Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” 
- “Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.” 
- “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is not great experience, not discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” 
- “A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men….Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren.” [29-30]
[These quotations are taken from John W. Doberstein’s classic translation of Life Together. A more recent translation with thorough annotations and a helpful introduction is found in Volume 5 of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works.]