Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, October 29, 2022
Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,
Growing in Love for God 40
by David Harwood
The goal of life is to love and know God.
In 1982 I was about to speak in a mid-week meeting in North Carolina. Philippians 3:10 was my text.
My aim is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death — (Philippians 3:10 TLV)
I was concerned about the message. I wanted to exalt Yeshua. While waiting to speak I prayed, “Lord, when I speak be more than an afterthought in my message.” After all, knowing Him was the point of the verse. What happened next took me by surprise. I thought He responded to me: “When I’m more than an afterthought in your life, I’ll be more than an afterthought in your message.” Taken aback, I still went to the front and preached the best I could.
The next day I said to a friend, “I do so want to be holy, and I so want to know Yeshua.” When I said this it was as if I had an epiphany: Knowing Yeshua was my afterthought. My primary goal was my own sanctity. I’d relegated Yeshua as a means to that end. The truth of what I’d heard the previous night was borne out in the light I received that day. This gentle encounter reoriented my life. Everything about my ministry began to change.
Fulfilling the foremost command is the holiest thing one can possibly do. It really is the highest priority command.
Yeshua answered, “The first is, ‘Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. 30And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:29-30 TLV)
Yeshua, who proclaimed the command, is included in the command. Look at this:
Grace be with all those who love our Lord Yeshua the Messiah with undying love. (Ephesians 6:24 TLV)
God is good. We trust Him. We have a Father who loves us. He is our King. As our Father and King He is vitally interested in our welfare and has the right to determine our primary goals. Also, God has His own goals. He revealed them through His acts and His words. What goals of His are relevant to us? Well, He wants us to have eternal life. That is why He gave His Son. Consider that. God wants you to have eternal life. His Son revealed that God wants us to know Him and that knowing Him, and Yeshua, is eternal life.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah, the One You sent. (John 17:3 TLV)
Despite the tradition of the lone-saint, please note that it is a company of believers who are called to eternal life. “That theymay know You” is different than, “That s/he might know You.” I am not, let me emphasize this, I am NOT seeking to take away from the relationship each of us is to pursue. Paul wrote, “that I may know Him,” but there is an aspect of our fellowship with God that is OUR fellowship with God. We are part of a Body that has a corporate relationship with our God.
Every member of the Body has a relationship with the Creator within the context of the corporate relationship. Each relates to God in fellowship with others who have the same relationship. God is in each heart; God is in their midst. The Ruach ha-Kodesh interacts with the individual and with communities of believers.
The individual’s love for God is intended to be enhanced by this fellowship with other disciples. Believers watch over one another’s souls and encourage the fulfilling of the Great Command. Part of our intrinsic identity is our calling to love the brethren. One way we act upon our love for them is by building them up, encouraging their love for God. Paul wrote:
So then let us pursue what makes for shalom and for the building up of one another. (Romans 14:19 TLV)
We are authoritatively exhorted to edify one another. Contained within that command is a call to encourage each other’s love for God. Our capacity to fulfill the Great Command can be strengthened within the social framework of our fellowship with one another.
Our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Yeshua the Messiah. (1 John 1:3b TLV).
In the light of that fellowship, let me ask, what have you received from God that has strengthened your love for God?
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/) Sat 29-Oct-2022 4th of Cheshvan, 5783
Parashat Noach Ge 11:1-32 Isa 54:1-55:5 2 Pe 3:1-14