January 3, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, is an updated version of his blog first posted on March 1, 2014.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Real Hope Found in John’s Transformation” 

Mark 3:17

James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”) . . .

Church Father Jerome tells us that when the aged apostle John became so weak that he could no longer preach, he used to be carried into the congregation at Ephesus and content himself with a word of exhortation: “Little children,” he would always say, “love one another.” And when his hearers grew tired of this message and asked him why he so frequently repeated it, he responded, “Because it is the Lord’s command, and if this is all you do, it is enough.”  When we read John’s Gospel or his letters, this story rings true.

Yet love did not always characterize John’s life.  Jesus named John and his brother James,  “Boanerges,” that is, Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17), but what did Jesus mean by this?  We get a hint in Luke 9:51-56: As Jesus and his companions were traveling through Samaria, and they were turned away by the Samaritan village, James and John, without blinking an eye, offered to pray down fire on them (Luke 9:51-56).  Jesus responded by rebuking them, and then took his men to another village, seeing that they were still not ready to proclaim the message of God’s love for the world. Another time, their mother came to Jesus asking that her sons be exclusively seated at Jesus’ left and right when his kingdom would come (Matthew 20).  Upon hearing this, an argument broke out among the disciples!  During his time with Jesus, John did not epitomize the message of loving one another.

Yet, many years later, John would become known as the Apostle of Love, but how did this happen? Was it merely old age which softened John?  Perhaps, but my guess is that the change came by being in the presence of Jesus for all those years.  Our motivation to love always comes as we are loved by Jesus. As for John, he experienced Jesus’ love, saw how Jesus loved, and most profoundly, he was a witness to Jesus’ death on the cross. 

How are you doing with loving others in the church?  If you struggle with loving others, I would tell you that you have a very real hope for transformation.  John’s life tells us that it is possible.  Just remember, transformation and maturity doesn’t automatically happen to us as we get older, but as we follow the cross-carrying Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, we must change; we cannot afford to continue to live the way we have been for years.  Help us to change like John changed.  Help us to dwell in the presence of Christ daily and imitate the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 4