John 7:14-18 (NRSV)
About the middle of the festival (of Booths) Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught? Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.”
In John 7, Jesus is in Jerusalem teaching in the Temple. The crowd expresses opposing opinions about Jesus. Some feel Jesus is deceiving them and suggest he is demon possessed. Others, astonished at his teachings, ponder whether Jesus might be God’s Messiah (7:31). Jesus responds by declaring that clarity comes to those who do God’s will (v. 17).
For me, the Kingdom of God and doing God’s will are complementary concepts. Kingdom people seek to do God’s will. These concepts are beautifully summarized for me on a gift stole I received from the Immanuel congregation. On it are embroidered the words, “Embodying God’s Love.” The words “God’s Love” remind me that I must center my life in God’s love and in the loving Lordship of Jesus Christ. In addition, these words remind me that love is not a power of my own making, but is a gracious gift from God. I must abide in Christ to receive the power of love and use it well.
The word “embodying” should remind us all that as citizens of God’s kingdom we are called in Christ’s name to incarnate God’s love in the world. The ultimate establishment of God’s kingdom does not depend on us (thank God!) but God’s love graciously invites us to assist in building this kingdom through embodying love in our daily living. To faithfully live out Christ’s teachings on God’s will I need the Church who nurtures me on how to share God’s love through worship, teaching, fellowship, and mission.
God of love, your kingdom is at hand when we center our lives in your love. Help us do your will by embodying your love to others so that others may know the blessings and joys of your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.