The NEW thing according to Jesus

A New Commandment 

What a change, what an adjustment who ever you are.   

The last few months has been turmoil for the UK on many levels, that turmoil is not over yet, new challenges arrive daily.   31st January we will face the challenge of addressing our departure from Europe with its implications which are so far reaching, now the negotiations begin.     As the world changes around us, a virus threat infecting the world from one city in China, following invasion through the interconnected airways, every country in search mode and cities in China in lockdown.   What can we learn in the meantime, what can we hold on to, what can we take from the tumultuous times we live in that will school us for world impact.   I am so surprised that a small nation as Britain has such far reaching effects economically with markets and currencies being affected in far places world wide.   We are learning, I suggest that a little country can have an impact in far places not just locally, London or UK in this case.   We are learning about power, whether right or wrong as a president is going through an impeachment process.   We are learning who are servant leaders and who are power dominant.   South Africa was once an influence in Africa, today South African Airways is  in melt down and cancelling flights as it cannot meet its budget, the airline is collapsing and the counties banking institutions may follow this week into junk status.   What are we learning, what am I learning through it all.     Knife crime is at its highest ever, in a spiralling down trend in British cities, more gun deaths than ever and shootings in schools, gang violence and murders what am I learning, how should I respond?

Perhaps we can learn the sacrifice of true Leadsrhip in finding men and women who are sacrificial and will demonstrate Chirsts’ servant Leadsrhip, willing to pour out self for the sake of another.   Rather than feeding ego on power, or amassing wealth which is on the obscene level while countries are broke.   Living preferring one another, cultivating a love society, I wonder what that looks like.

in John 13:34–35 Jesus gives us a New Commandmentbut it is not really new, as at least in Deuteronomy and Leviticus we are told to love one another and to love God, are we not?    

So whats NEW about it?

I would suggest it is much more about outlining a distinctive mark of a community, it is much more about a NEW way to live together.     I have noticedsome bible interpreters pass comment that the verse is out of sink with the flow of the passage, with Jesus talking about his departure.   A time of turmoil about to arrive for the followers, the disciples.

34       “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

35       “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another

The verse is really highly important and is focused in the turmoil to come on the community that Jesus will establish as a result of his departure.

The community in its distinctive quality was to be marked by a new commandment.   

Turmoil needs some marks on it, needs some signposts that anchors life and prevents spinning.    In the establishment of communities, one of the principle factors of success is the establishing of boundaries for action.   These are based on community or national covenants, whether stated or unstated.    Behind every way forward there must be covenants that hold, direct us, this is absolutely crucial.

When societies go through transitions by a change of direction nationally, the influx of people, or changes in economic or social structures, the underlying covenants are often disregarded and the society is thrown into confusion. 

John’s writings (1 John) we are introduced to a confusing state of affairs for people affecting that community at large, it outlines the departure for a covenant made and oath taking towards new theologies, so called, it only goes to enforce the need of understanding underlying covenants that have been made long ago, words spoken, hearts committed towards establishing a healthy life, words outlining conduct for the better of all peoples, these are crucial to perceiving the significance of the order of life.

John 13 indicates a covenant that undergirds community building, its formation and establishment “love one another“, but it goes beyond that to indicate that to love one another is to display, to be an example of God, love as foundation to every distrusted moment, to all turbulent times is an indication of where and to who we belong.    

So Brexit – market runaways – change of political structure – Love one another – be and form community.   

Return to covenant that undergirds us all, and of course continue in this way of Love and Covenant do not depart from it.

Love one another – that all men will know you are my disciples 

To make this “love one another” impactive it must have content as we cannot make people love one another can we?  

The context that enables this love is the realisation that the “I have loved you” of Christ.    

Christ has loved us fully unrestrained, unreserved, it transforms you?   People have the right to ask “why should I love others” for with out a realisation of their loved condition it is challenging, firstly seeing that I/WE are loved is essential.

We can try and legalise the need of loving one another, we can even achieve a legalising of mutual respect but we will not make people love one another without realisation and accepting the self-giving love of God for the World, the covenant love displayed in and through Christ.      The acceptance of God’s self-giving love for the people of the world, including each one of us as recipients of that love (3:16), and the obedient response in a derivative love enables “all people”  to recognise the accepter as a disciple of Jesus. This way of loving one another is not to be interpreted exclusively as my little in-group instead, it was to be understood as breathtakingly explosive of old relationships and old patterns of obedience in the way it was pointedly presented in the Sermon on the Mount.

Where we began our journey captures an arrival of of the new era and the new community.     

This new community, is the continuing intention in the Old Testament, God calling out a people who are to be recognised by their love for God (Deut. 6:4–5) and their love of neighbour (Lev 19:18) just as Jesus spelled out his model in the Sermon on the Mount. 

(1 John 3:1-18) We are expected to love one another as we have been loved, adopted, accepted as the family of God – Community to form and build based on love.


Changing…Holding on to what we see, hear, say?

I wonder what kind of thoughts to go through our minds as influencers in various spheres. An influencer of an individual, within the home as a parent or as a spouse, an influencer in your work sphere as a manager, or a leader. What would be your primary thinking, to get the job done or even to leave a good ethic for people to follow?

Influencers at every level  ask ourselves, what our greatest joys as well our greatest challenges are. I Once worked with a man who often used to ask for five positives gleaned from the day, or the meeting. Try it, sometimes it is quite a challenge. The deeper question that makes you think quite often is not only what is your greatest challenge but what are your greatest disappointments. Recently I was asked what regrets do I have? I answered honestly saying I do not have any regrets, at least  I don’t believe so or perhaps I am just plainly  deluded. However I may have disappointments, you may now say ah that’s regret, however I don’t believe so.

There are things that I hope to accomplish, things that I trust will happen, and the major one is that I do not want to just be a blessing machine, but rather someone who builds and establishes, someone who can say at the end of the day that my work will having a lasting impact.   Trusting what I have done will have a lasting effect in people’s lives. Not building for the immediate but building towards the culmination of all things with Christ being found in all things.

Being in the position I am, I realise that many hear me speak from all walks of life and many cultures. Whether it be in Asia, Africa, America or Europe, many listen and say how inspired they are however many do not follow through on the concepts and use them consistently in their day-to-day work. 

People seem to be content to merely talk about practices, rather than to actually implement them.   I have realised we are  trying to change people’s behaviour only from the outside. Lasting change starts on the inside and moves out.

I often say that I’m not interested in affecting the frontal lobe of the persons mind, with immediate reactions but I really do want to change the perspective of a person that will change their life forever.     I have noted without this kind of change things will just continue in the same old same old way.

The scriptures, the coming of the Holy Spirit has come to transform the mind that we will have the mind of Christ, thinking the thoughts of God a perceptional change.

I know this to be right, it seems that all we have been focusing on in the church were methods and behaviour, for 2000 years and still maturity, corporate maturity eludes us. We have not focused much on what was inside people’s heads or hearts.

Armed with this insight, I want to change and I want to change people by closing the learning-doing gap.

Retaining – not just at exam time

Reading and imbibing understanding is fine, new skills can be taken on however we need strategies to retain and apply all the helpful information we take in. 

When we see something new or sit and hear something new, by the way these are good practices and experience.   What we hear will lose its effectiveness when we don’t stop,  building it into life, integrate in order that its become part of life style

Try this, rather than reading and reading, listening and listening, devouring new information, why not just concentrate on a few things, decide and explore.   Study and enquire on the few things.   Hearing once we we will not get anything.   Then repeat, chew the cud…what, you may say to this old English phrase, well let me explain to ‘chew the cud’, in a literal sense, is for ruminant animals to masticate, that is regurgitated food. In a metaphorical sense it is, for humans, to chat in an aimless manner.    Alternative versions of this are ‘chew the fat’, ‘chew the rag’ etc. Cud is the part digested food that ruminant animals, notably cows, bring back into their mouths from their first stomach, to chew at leisure. The image is of slow and aimless mastication and the allusive use of the phrase refers to that. In its literal sense there are references to chewing the cud’ going back to Aelfric, ‘De veteri et de novo testamento’, circa 1000.

Enough of that rabbit warren, my aim is to get you to see and regurgitate,  chew it over and over again until every last bit is taken out of the statement, concept, information. 

By thinking over and repeating the new knowledge becomes firmly fixed in your mind and you become a master in those areas.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking critically; in fact, it’s essential for survival.

I am Listening, BUT HOW 

Research now indicates that probably we did not receive unconditional love and support when we were young, which has produced a way of dealing with language, people and circumstances.    Very few of us have.

Through this it has produced in us a way of dealing with life and people by undermining and doubting ourselves and others. Self-doubt causes us to filter all information through what ever medium we receive it, it invades our lives through our indecisive, closed-minded, judgmental, fear-ridden mindset, which leads to negative thinking.

Due to this pattern we only use a fraction of what we see and hear, which means we will achieve a small percentage of what we could achieve. 

We accept too little too soon.

However the opposite is to have a positive mindset, it means changing my stance as an open mind ignites creativity, ingenuity, and resourcefulness. 

Try this change rather that trying to find what’s wrong with new information, start from a trusting position, actively seek out what’s right.   Try looking for the value, knowing that value exists here.

I love the picture that Psalm 139 indicates when it concludes with “seek me o Lord and it you find anything unwholesome”, in other words God look at me, is not seek and find the negative but pull out the positive that is in me, as you put it there first hand and if you find anything negative just deal with it on the way.  But revel in the positive you have found.   Seek, knowing something of value will be found.

Use a Follow-Up Plan

Doing what I have read, what I have discovered and learned cannot be left to ad hoc ways, not making a plan on how to deal with the new found insight or way.   To ensure I gain what I have read, heard and learned I need to plan, giving it positive actions in order to keep and apply the knowledge gained.   A process that carries it through providing a  structure, support, and accountability will ensure I have gained it, what ever it may be.

For example, at Christmas I bought a Road bike with the aim of getting fitter, it began well,  3 to 5 miles every other day, and I felt better.   More energy, felt fitter in body it was great, I was feeling the lasting effect after 6 weeks it was really, really good.  Then I began to travel away through the country, overseas and it was difficult to keep the rhythm.   What do you think has happened, the “I must get back to it thinking” has entered into life as I have reverted to the old way.   I did not settle on a follow up plan and I think it seems harder to get back to it than when I first began it.

Now follow-up plans can take many forms, but the best ones include someone who can tell you, show you, observe you, and praise your progress or redirect you as you practice the new skill. 

Neither don’t skip the praise part of that sequence, because accentuating the positive motivates learners. 

The best way of keeping this up is to put the knowledge you’ve gained into action by reviewing passing it on and helping others if they let you, Go on share it on!