“If you love me, obeymy commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
Since I looked at the reading for today I have been continually thinking about Maureen’s highly technical veterinarian description last week when she described that big muckle dug. It set me off thinking about words; how we use them and how we understand them. For example, what about these two statements. ‘How now brown cow.’ Then ‘Och aye the noo broon coo.’
Very, very different statements, but are they? They both mention the same colour; someone’s brown is another’s broon. They both mention the same farmyard animal; someone’s cow is another’s coo.
How we pronounce them may reflect something about us more than the actual words themselves. How, where and when we use them in their different forms may well depend to the circumstance we are in
and the company we are addressing at the time. The reading uses some grand words about love. But of course we all know loving someone is not only about the words we use to say that we love them, as each of us could express our love using so many different words and a myriad of ways to show such a love.
Some people want to make the Christian faith something that is extremely complex, to mix it all up and tangle it all up, a tangled mess of knots in a fishing line, or a never ending stream of theological conflicts
and problems to be solved, with so many odd pieces and slices of Biblical truths to be argued over and somehow unravelled. You’ve heard the saying: “It is as plain as the nose on your face.” Your nose is obvious to everyone else, but it is very difficult for you to see it unless you are looking in a mirror.
Something that maybe we should do more often, not in the way of vanity, but more to do with some self-reflecting. Sometimes the solution to a problem is plain to everyone else, but you can’t see it because it is too close to you. The other day I was on the phone to our oldest daughter Debbie and I walked from the living room into the kitchen then back into the living room then as I was walking again back into the kitchen I burst out laughing. In mid conversation I realised that I was walking about the house wondering where my phone was.
Have you ever said to someone, “I need another pair of eyes. I just can’t see it.” Whatever it is.
It wanders away from where you placed it. You can’t find it and call out for help to look for it. And the reply comes, “There it is. Right there on the table.” It was right there in front of your eyes. Or in my case. There it is right beside your ear or lug.
It’s as plain as the nose on your face can also apply to human relationships. When that fishing line comes reeling out and creates what seems like a thousand knots, that fishing line becomes one glorious tangled mess. Do we try to unravel each knot, each conflict, each argument? or cut through the tangled mess and come up with simple solutions. How do we handle the word of God?
If we set out to read the whole Bible in one year; that is 66 books, 1189 chapters, three chapters a day, five minutes per chapter 92 hours of reading.
How would we summarize all of that?
Is it a tangled history of war and conflict, of exodus and rescue, of curse and blessing? Is it a tangled list of theological principles and teachings that we can argue over until the cows or the coos come home?
Whatever colour that may be. How would you summarize all that reading? I wonder if verse 21 might be worth reading again.
‘Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them’
Less than forty words to summarize 66 books, 1189 chapters and 92 hours of reading.
God has shared this abundance with us freely, and we are to love in the same way, sharing the abundance of generosity with all of God’s children around us.
It is so simple, so very, very simple. It is as plain as the nose on your face.