September 20, 2021

Jesus’ Love and Care 25-07-2021

25th July 2021 Pentecost 9 (Ninth Sunday after Pentecost)
Jesus’ Love and Care
(Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21, John 6: 1 – 21)
By Heeyoung Lim

I’ve had the experience of feeling better and working efficiently by only changing my desk to a position I can see out the window during this lockdown. Just like small changes can make a positive change in our lives, there are times when our life and faith need renovation or construction. I sincerely hope that a change of life and faith that pleases God can follow during these arduous times. We do not need to have room in our heart where hidden sins are kept, and sinful desires are grown. I believe that we become obedient to God’s words when Jesus is dwelling in every corner of our life through our faith.
Paul’s kneeling posture before God contrasts to common practice of standing to pray and represents humility and godly worship. (Ephesians 3:15) Our Father God hears and answers our prayers. Paul’s four prayer topics are inner spiritual strength, deep faith, abundant love (love of Christ), and God’s fullness. (16-21) Inner spiritual strength is not about positive thinking or mental renewing. God is the giver of spiritual growth and insight. It is important to ask God to increase our spiritual growth.
The promise of salvation is not the end on our faith journey. It means that our faith needs to be grown and deepen. Faith that rests on only the promise of salvation can easily lead to spiritual stagnation. Paul prayed for deep faith. Mature believers are strengthened by the Holy Spirit and filled with the fullness of God. They also comprehend the abundance of God’s love and grace.
We need to search the love of God until love becomes the roots of our existence. May we pray continuously that the Lord would strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being, that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith, that we would experience the love of Christ, and be filled to the fullness of God. God should receive eternal glory for what he has done for us. God is glorified through our sincere response; His family, the church, is the centrepiece of God’s work in the world today.
Paul’s prayer is full of hope for spiritual blessings and faith growth, and his praise is grounded in gratitude for the power at work within us that can accomplish abundantly more than we can ask. (21) Beyond our small hopes and imaginations, God is at work, fulfilling His plans. The strengthening of our inner person by the Holy Spirit allows us to let Christ be at our heart.
When Christ occupies our heart, we can live with confidence in His love and care. Whenever we remember His love and care, we are able to love others with the love of Christ. The sense of being loved gives us the ability to relate to and love others, so we can experience with others the love of God. This ability to know God’s love leads to the fullness of God in us. That is Paul’s prayer for us. (19) We can participate in His kingdom on earth because Christ’s life, power, love, and His presence inhabit us. God’s presence with us sustains us in all circumstances, but we often forget the abundance we have, and we frequently misuse that. Today’s text shows us the ways in which Jesus provides for us, and the ways that cooperate with His abundant blessings.
John 6 tells us two miracles: the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus’ walking on the water. We remember that God fed Israel during their wilderness wanderings with ‘manna’ which was bread from heaven. (Exodus 16) It was provided by God because the people were complaining. John 6 opens with the feeding story which is told in all four gospels. Philip and Andrew did not know what to do when they need food for the 5000, but Andrew brought and introduced a boy with the bread and fish to Jesus. We can never tell what He is going to do with it, but we can respond through what we have.
We are called to respond to Jesus’ work among us and extend His abundant gifts to others. What are our five loaves and two fishes? If Jesus involves in and touches something we have, everything is possible in Christ. The smallest would transfer to the biggest in Jesus’ hands, and our normal story would transform to God’s miracle. We will be witnesses of Jesus’ miracle and God’s abundance whenever Jesus touches our own loaves and fishes.
Jesus not only fed the crowd, but also saved them just as God led and fed the people in the desert. He echoes the miracle of the Exodus when God parted the waters of the Red Sea. God provides more than we need – food, healing, blessing, grace, faith, and salvation. Jesus has not come to be people’s king who will give them what they want. He is the only way to the Father and the only source of spiritual food. I believe that God will move us safely to next destination in the middle of our faith journey.
His disciples were more than halfway across when they saw Jesus walking on the water. Jesus knew their problems with faith and fear. The disciples in the boat were felt God’s powerful presence when Jesus walked on the water. Jesus told them not to be afraid while they were frightened. He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” (20) “Then they glad to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” We do not know the next destination or the name of land we are going, but we will be joyful if we invite and follow Jesus all the time.
Jesus comes to the disciples, across the waves, walking on the sea. He speaks to them and saves them. We would be full of fear if we were in a storm on the sea and the waves were getting bigger. We may be sailing in the sea of anxiety and depression in the midst of continuous COVID. However, Jesus speaks to us in the waves of fear we face, “It is I, do not be afraid.” His living words gives us peace and strength. God comes to us in unexpected and powerful ways and tells us not to be afraid. Jesus’ disciples witnessed the feeding and the walking on water and kept following Jesus where He led.
How are we receive God’s abundance and respond to the miracle of being fed and saved? Even when our faith is weak, God wants to work in and through us. May we approach God with freedom and confidence. May God’s love and care come to us and Christ dwell in our hearts through our faith and life. God gives us both physical and spiritual needs through Jesus. God is our provider, and His grace is sufficient. We have been given God’s abundant blessings and gifts that are needed to live out our faith. The Good News is not about obtaining something we want from the Lord, it is that Jesus Christ is our saviour and the Lord of our life. True blessings are not about worldly wealth, fame, and power, it is about inner spiritual strength, deep faith, abundant love (love of Christ), and God’s fullness. Jesus calls us to follow Him even on the challenging journey of faith. May the fullness of God will be with you all and the strength of inner person will be stronger.
Thanks be to God! Amen. 

(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)