Monday, November 15, 2010: Branding
Daily reading: Leviticus 19:18; John 15:12-17
Branding is a big deal in the business world. You can probably recall the logo of Target, Best Buy, or Honda. Most people would be able to identify the company represented by that logo. So, what’s the brand identity of Christianity? What’s our logo? Some might say that it’s the cross, but at least in our culture every gangster with bling and every rock star wears a cross. Wearing a cross no longer accurately identifies us to the world. Others might say it’s a fish, but have you seen the way some people with fish symbols on their cars drive? John would say that our logo, our brand identity as individuals and as a “corporate culture,” is love. In your life, would people be able to identify your “brand” as love? In your prayers, ask God to reveal new ways for you to walk in the way of love.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010: Movitation
Daily reading: Micah 6:8; Isaiah 29:13-14
Isn’t it interesting that we’re told to “do justice,” but we’re not just told to “be kind”? We’re commanded to love kindness. Why is that? Why is God so interested in our loving kindness? God seems to care more about our hearts than our hands. God doesn’t seem terribly interested in obedience for obedience’s sake. God doesn’t want us to worship each week to just check it off our list and think we’re good to go. That kind of worship doesn’t honor God. That kind of worship is motivated by guilt or fear. Instead, God desires worship that comes from love and gratitude for who God is and what God has done for us. What motivates your worship? Ask God to empower you to worship with deeper gratitude and love.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010: Love
Daily reading: Psalm 31:23-24; I John 4:7-12
John seems to be saying that the identifying mark of true believers is love. In this passage, John makes the following affirmations. First, love comes from God; God is the source of real love. Second, everyone who loves is “born of God and knows God.” If you don’t love others in the Christian community, you don’t know God because God is love. Third, the kind of love that John is referring to – the kind of love that we are called to live out – is the same love that God demonstrates through the cross of Christ. In your life, are there people who bear the identifying mark of a true believer? Do you bear this mark, as well? In your prayers, ask God help you live in greater love for God and for others.
Thursday, November 18, 2010: Hesed
Daily reading: Hosea 12:6; 1 John 4:12-21
According to scholar Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, the word “hesed” describes the loving kindness that we are called to live into. Hesed has four characteristics. First, the word is used when the help of another is essential; the person in need cannot help themselves. Secont, it is used when help is desperately needed; without help, the person’s situation will go from bad to worse. Third, it is used when the circumstances dictate that one person is uniquely able to provide the help that is needed; there is no alternative if this person doesn’t help. Fourth, the person in need has no control over the decision of the person whose help he or she needs. In your life, have you ever experienced hesed? How did it come to you? From whom? In your prayers, ask God to move you from simply loving to hesed.
(– from “Love (OT),” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, by Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Doubleday.)
Friday, November 19, 2010: Stewardship
Daily reading: Proverbs 22:6-9; Matthew 19:21-24
This call to love kindness also has implications for the stewardship of our lives. It calls us to consider the daily investment of all that God has given us (“ourselves, our time and our possessions, signs of your gracious love”). If we invest only in ourselves, we perpetuate the “negative branding” that our culture perceives. We add to the negative narrative that undermines people’s willing participation in Christian community and all that we seek to do in Jesus’ name. What would happen if we radically turned our lives inside out, started to believe in God’s abundance, and so allowed God’s love to fill us that our lives couldn’t help but spill over with love for others? What might that kind of kindness do to the world? To our neighbors? To our church? To our own soul? In your prayers, ask God to direct you toward greater generosity and better stewardship of your resources.
Saturday, November 20, 2010: Perception
Daily reading: Micah 6:8; Matthew 7:1-5
A recent survey of non-Christians reported their perception of Christians to be judgmental, hypocritical, sheltered, and too political. Similar surveys show no correlation of these perceptions to Jesus Christ. This is a huge disconnect. Micah says that God requires that we “love kindness.” Kindness has been described as “love in action,” so God requires that we love “loving on people.” According to 1 John, this is to be our brand identity, our hallmark, our reputation. And the good news here is that this love isn’t something we need to conjure up. God is at work in our lives. God’s transformational love is daily forming us into a loving community. How can we change the perceptions of others toward us? Ask God to show you where you appear to be judgmental or hypocritical.
Sunday, November 21, 2010: Logo
Daily reading: Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Timothy 6:17-19
What is God’s will? What do we mean when we pray “thy will be done”? It means that we, as the body of Christ, do justice and love kindness in such a way that no one is “those people.” It means that we are a people so deeply loved by God in Christ that we are both empowered and compelled the share that love with the world in tangible ways. The day will come when hesed is the living corporate logo for the body of Christ in the world. The day will come when hesed is the church’s corporate logo. But that journey cannot begin until hesed is the logo of our lives. Pray today that “thy will be done.”