Daily Devotion for July 15, 2020

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Every hero, every great leader, every president leaves their marks. Just to name a few: Jesus Christ, Paul, Mary, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, John, Charles and Susannah Wesley, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, Christopher Columbus, Junko Tabei, Albert Einstein… Thomas Jefferson, Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Sylvia Mendez, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, etc. Some of these people are famous throughout the world, some, mostly in the United States. Great people leave their marks.  Not only that, they prevail in hard times and are champions in what they do. 

As Christians and disciples of Jesus Christ, we have our marks.  They are faith, hope, and love, but love is the greatest, as Paul put it (1 Corinthians 13:13). Jesus said to his disciples to have this mark… love, “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
By our love people will know who we are. This love is to be like the love of God, “as I have loved you.” We know Jesus Christ by his love, so will others know us by the same love, the mark of discipleship. What does this mark entail? When I examine the text, I see four elements in this mark:
Love of God. As Methodists, the element of this love may be called the “work of piety,” which is our devotion to God and the things of God (worship, prayer, Bible study, reading the Scripture, fasting, observing God’s holy words, sacraments and the sabbath).

Love of one another or love of neighbors. This element may be appropriately termed “the work of mercy,” which includes the work of charity and social and racial justice, goodwill and hospitality. We will be judged by how we are performing in this element of love (Matthew 25: 31-46). Additionally, this element is especially about the people in the church. Jesus’ disciples are to love one another. We, too, are called to love our church members, even pastors, regardless who they are, or whether we like them or not. Jesus loved his disciples just the way they were.

Love of witness—sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. How do people know we are disciples of Jesus Christ unless we spread his words of good news? I must confess that we are not doing well on this element of love. Witness should always be our priority as this is the mandate or purpose of our existence as church and disciples.

Love of service—through humility, compassion, kindness, and goodness in all that we do.  We serve because service is our lifestyle, how we live and act in ministry and relationship with our church, community and world.
Love is the mark of who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ. How do we love in this time of COVID-19 and in social distance? I would ask that we do not lose our mark during this time. In fact, I would say, this is the best time that “everyone” will know us better as disciples of Jesus Christ. Some churches are doing care packages for their church members who are in need, and their neighbors. How do you love at this time? How would you like to leave your mark after the pandemic?
God of love and God of glory. May your love fill us and equip us to do your will in this uncertain time. Help us to live that everyone will know we are your disciples. Amen.

 May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.

“Nwgnuav kuv muab ib txuj kevcai tshab rua mej: Mej ib leeg yuavtsum hlub ib leeg.  Mej ib leeg yuavtsum hlub ib leeg.  Mej ib leeg yuavtsum hlub ib leeg ib yaam le kuv hlub mej.  Yog mej ib leeg hlub ib leeg, suavdlawg txhaj yuav paub has tas mej yog kuv cov thwjtim” (John 13:34-35).
Txhua tug phab-ej, txhua tug thawjcoj nto moo, txhua tug thawj fwmtsaav (president) puavleej muaj cim zoo tso tseg ca.  Yog has qee tug kws peb paub, kuj muaj xws le: Tswv Yexus, Xf. Paulus, Malis, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, John, Charles and Susannah Wesley, Isaac New ton, Marie Curie, Christopher Columbus, Junko Tabei, Albert Eistein… Thomas Jefferson, Sourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Sylvia Mendez, Maya Angelou, Marthin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, etc.  Qee leej nuav nto moo thoob nplajteb, qee leej kuj nto moo nyob rua tebchaw Ameskas xwb.  Cov tuabneeg nto moo puab yeej muaj cim zoo tseg ca.  Tsi yog le ntawd xwb, puab muaj yeej thaum sijhawm tsaug kev txomnyem hab kovyeej txhua yaam kws puab ua.  Ua cov ntseeg hab Tswv Yexus cov thawjtim, peb los muaj cim zoo.  Cov cim yog kev ntseeg, kev ca sab, hab kev hlub, tabsi kev hlub yog yaam tseemceeb tshaaj plawg, le kws Paulus tau has (1 Kauleethaus 13:13).  Tswv Yexus has rua nwg cov thwjtim kuas puab yuavtsum muaj lub cim nuav… kev hlub, “suavdlawg txhaj yuav paub has tas mej yog kuv cov thwjtim.”
Lug ntawm peb txuj kev hlub luas yuav paub tas peb yog leej twg.  Txuj kev hlub nuav yog zoo le Vaajtswv txuj kev hlub, “ib yaam le kuv tau hlub mej.”  Peb paub Yexus vim yog lug ntawm nwg txuj kev hlub, yog le lwm tug yuav paub peb los yog ntawm txuj kev hlub ibyaam, lub cim ntawm kev ua thwjtim.  Lub cim nuav yog le caag tag?  Thaum kuv tshawb qhov Vaajlugkub nuav, kuv pum muaj plaub yaam tseemceeb nyob rua lub cim nuav.
Kev hlub rua Vaajtswv.  Ua cov ntseeg Methodist, yaam kev hlub nuav yuav hu tau tas yog “haujlwm ntawm kev muab sab rau tseeg” xws le kev fwm Vaajtswv, Vaajtswv tej lug qha hab yaam kws yog Vaajtswv le (kev pehawm, thov Vaajtswv, kawm Vaajlugkub, nyeem Vaajlugkub, ua kevcai yoo mov, noog Vaajtwv txujlug, ua kevcai rausdlej, hab cai nub Xabnpatus).
Kev ib leeg hlub ib leeg lossis hlub kwvtij zejzog.  Yaam nuav yuav muab hu tas yog “haujlwm ntawm kev taabncuab” kws muaj xws le haujlwm paab cov tuabneeg txomnyem hab kev ncaajnceeg rua pejxeem hab kev nyob sibhum xeeb uake ntawm txhua haiv tuabneeg, kev ua zoo hab kev txais tog.  Vaajtswv yuav txavtxim rua peb raws le peb teg dlejnum nuav saib zoo los tsi zoo (Matthai 25:1-46).  Tshaav qhov ntawd, yaam nuav kuv yog has txug peb cov ntseeg nyob huv pawg ntseeg.  Yexus kuas nwg cov thawjtim ib leeg yuavtsum hlub ib leeg.  Ib yaam nkaus le, peb los yuavtsum tau hlub peb cov tswvcuab huv pawg ntseeg has xwbfwb, txawm tas puab yuav zoo los phem.  Tswv Yexus hlub nwg cov thawjtim txhua tug ib yaam nkaus.
Kev mob sab tshaajtawm Vaajtswv txuj Moo Zoo.  Luas yuav ua le caag paub peb tas peb yog Yexus cov thwjtim yog peb tsi qha Vaajtswv txuj Moo Zoo?  Kuv leeg tas qhov nuav yog ib yaam kws peb ua tsi tau zoo txaus le sab xaav.  Kev tshaajtawm yog yaam tseemceeb thib ib kws yog lub homphaj hab yaam tseemceeb kws Vaajtswv saamfwm tseg rua peb kuas ua tau nwg thawjtim hab pawg ntseeg.  Yog peb ua tsi tau qhov nuav peb yuav ua tsi tau Yexus cov thwjtim hab pawg ntseeg.
Kev xyivfaab ua dlejnum—lug ntawm kev txu fwjchim, kev hlub, kev sab dlawb sab zoo, sab mog sab muag, dlejnum zoo hab txhua yaam kws peb ua.  Peb ua dlejnum vim nws yog peb kev ua neej nyob yeej zoo le ntawd, hab kev paab Vaajtwv teg dlejnum nrug rua kev sibraug zoo nyob rua huv pawg ntseeg, lub zejzog hab thoob nplajteb, yaam kws tsi xaam nuj nqe rua leej twg.
Kev hlub yog lub cim ntawm peb kws yog Yexus cov thawjtim.  Peb kev hlub zoo le caag nyob rua lub sijhawm muaj tug kaabmob Covid-19 nuav hab kev caiv tsi pub tuaj nyob ze uake?  Kuv thov kuas peb tsi xob tso peb txuj kev hlub povtseg nyob rua lub sijhawm nuav.  Qhov tseeb tas, lub sijhawm nuav yog lub sijhawm kws zoo tshaaj plawg rua “txhua tug” tau lug paub peb zoo tas peb yog Yexus cov thwjtim.  Muaj qee pawg ntseeg kuj paab khoom noj hab khoom siv rua tej tswvcuab lossis tuabneeg zejzog kws ntsib kev txomnyem.  Koj yuav hlub le caag nyob rua lub sijhawm nuav?  Koj yuav xaav kuas koj muaj lub cim le caag tseg ca rua luam paub tomqaab kws tug kaabmob nuav dlau lawm?
Vaajtswv tug kws muaj kev hlub hab fwjchim ci ntsaa ab.  Thov koj txuj kev hlub lug nyob puvnpo peb hab npaaj peb ua tau hum koj dlejsab nyob rua lub sijhawm kws peb tsi paub tas pigkig yuav zoo le caag.  Thov paab kuas peb ua tau lub neej rua luas paub tas peb yog koj cov thwjtim.  Amees.