Devotionals

Heather Whitehouse portrait

Heather Whitehouse

Food for the spirit.

Dear KDS presidents, Southwest Ontario District Members, Ontario members-at-large, members in the USA and other dear friends in Christ,

In Canada we are eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving,which will soon be with us. While in America Thanksgiving will be here in November. Since I write for writing to friends in both countries I am attaching two devotionals: One is more suited to celebration and Thanksgiving is around the corner. The other devotion addresses the important topic, “Just how urgently you are seeking God?”

I hope you will find each interesting and pause for reflexion. I am always interested in your feedback and appreciate encouragement. Especially as various Bible study groups in both Canada and America use these, please use them in the order most appropriate to your country.

Speaking of thanksgiving, I want to thank each circle presidents for circulating these to your members. My other dear friends are also free to pass these on to your friends.

Since I am writing from Canada, it is timely that I wish everyone a lovely and blessed coming Thanksgiving.

Heather

Did You Dance!

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Did You Dance!

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He is possessed by a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘He is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matt.11:16-19)

One day the Lord was speaking to a crowd and He told them this unusual analogy. I believe that the application concerns the question of whether we get what we want or we get what He wants. In other words, it’s about obedience. Ah, that’s a concept we aren’t so comfortable with! Consider the following situation: An eight year old boy is watching his dad chop wood. The boy reaches for the axe himself to chop, but his dad intervenes and says No! Typically the child begins to complain and thinks he is old enough to handle the axe. In any case he thinks his dad is mean and being unfair. The boy thought he’d be happy, if only his dad had let him chop some big logs with the axe. But what if his dad had let him? What if after a few ok swings he had missed and cut his leg open? My point is that when we ask our parents or God for something and we are not given it or in other words when we play the flute and pipe, but our parents or god do not dance to our tune, it is because they have a far greater knowledge of what will truly make us content- and contentment is better than happiness- and that- and only that- is what they wish for us. Therefore, let us pipe tunes, but be aware that God will not always dance to our tunes. God’s wisdom is vindicated by His deeds, as is our own wisdom.

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. Sometimes it is God who calls the tune for us. We see this in the words of The Lord of the Dance, an old Shaker tune: “I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee; But they would not dance and they would not follow Me. I danced for the fishermen, for James and John- They came with Me and the dance went on.” Think about one time God called you and you did not follow. Think about one time you did follow. What were the results?
  2. Think about a time you as a parent, your own child piped a tune (made a request) to you. Or think of a time you saw a neighbour respond to an unwise/unsafe request by a child. Did you or your neighbour end up giving in to the screaming and crying? If not, did you or your neighbour buy the child off with some treat? If this pattern is played out a number of times, hasn’t the child become spoilt and not obedient?
  3. Think about a time you have earnestly prayed for or are now praying for something from God, but He has not given it to you? How did you feel or how are you feeling? Are you really ready to give this decision over to God? If not, why not?

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario 1stVP/Chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons January, 2017

Be Not Afraid: An Essay on Death

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Be Not Afraid: An Essay on Death

Dear Friends, recently I watched two very thought-provoking cinemas. Both are about death, and both are based on a play by Alberto Casella: Death Takes a Holiday starring Frederic March (1934) and a slight revision of the story-line and characters as found in the original play in the cinema Meet Joe Black starring Anthony Hopkins/Brad Pitt (1998.)

As your KDS Ontario’s spiritual life director/chaplain I thought that I’d share my subsequent thinking concerning this tough and complex subject of death. I am sure you appreciate that no one is able to wrap this topic up in a one page devotion, and two pages can only be an opening to this complicated subject. In a couple of pages I hope to 1) present a few introductory thoughts; 2) analyse some key relevant Scriptural passages; 3) sum up my thoughts; and 4) provide you with some Bible study discussion questions to consider.

Introductory Thoughts on How I See Death : Death is part of life. It is a great mystery. It is not inherently evil or of the Evil One, nor is it necessarily associated with sin. Death is the place of contact between time and timeless-ness. It is a gateway, or portal, between this lifetime on earth and life eternal. Death is a transition point and leads to a new life. Death sometimes has a close association with Love, as I’ll explain later.

Analysis of some key Scriptural passages:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil) (Psalm 23 KJV) Up until recently I always read this as meaning that even though evil was all around me I shall not fear the evil. Modern language versions of the Bible, such as The New American Standard Version, say I shall fear no “harm.” “Harm” is not the same thing as “evil.” I believe that this Psalm 23 passage can easily and correctly be understood as saying, I have no reason to fear evil, just because I am walking close by death, for death is not inherently evil.

A more complex passage to analyse is “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the [Old Testament] law.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-56). That death is swallowed up in victory is a very valid and a poetic way of saying- through belief in Christ- death is simply a passing thing/a natural transition that will take us to dwell with God. To understand the meaning of the phrase “The sting of death is sin” it is useful to understand how logical syllogisms work. For instance, if we were to say “Socrates was a Greek; Socrates was also a man; therefore, we can infer that all men are Greeks,” we have reached a false conclusion, because our logic was poor. Another way in which we can use poor logic to reach another false conclusion is by forgetting to add something to the syllogism that needs to be added. Thus, if we say “the sting of death is sin” and we forget to add that for believers, Christ stands with us covering our sin with His righteousness and leading us to God the Father, only then can we say that our sins inevitably lead to death. Yes, sin can kill, but not all deaths are due to sin (or the Evil One who wants us to sin.) People die every day for reasons other than sin. They die from natural causes and also accidentally. Whether and how much there is a sting to death, depends on the circumstances.

If a person is 90 years old, physically very sick and wants to die, neither he nor possibly his relatives feel much, if any, “sting.” In fact, death can be a kind of friend in some circumstances.

Next let’s consider the connection between Death and Love, for sometimes there is a close relationship. This is especially true in following Christ’s own life-story. Apart from that, it seems to me that if a person overcomes his fear of death and voluntarily puts himself or herself in the way of death  in order to save another (as when a mother runs into the roadway to get between a car and her 6 year old son), we see an intimate, beautiful connexionbetween Love and Death. I refer to Scripture as support. There we read, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

To Summarise my Thoughts:

Death is inherently neither evil nor sinful. Death is simply a point of transition from this life to eternal life. Because we are afraid of the un-known, we are afraid of death. If we believe in Christ and put our hand into His and follow Him trustingly, we will find that when we die and pass from this earth that the grave cannot hold us. As believers we have nothing whatsoever to fear from death. For us, Christ’s “Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:8) We can totally rely on the fact that “We will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye we shall be changed…we shall be raised imperishable.” (1 Corinthians15:51-52) to live with Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father eternally.

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

  1. What does the concept of dying to “self” mean to you?
  2. What part of the idea of your own death disturbs you? Uncertainty as to what follows life? Pain? Parting from family/friends? Ambitions un-fulfilled?
  3. Does death always include suffering and pain?
  4. The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates a part of Psalm 23 this way: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley” instead of “through the valley of the shadow of death” (KJV). Psychologically and linguistically speaking, do you see the connexion between “darkness” and “death”? What is it?
  5. Because I was afraid of the dark, as a child I wanted to have a night-light burning in my bedroom as well as in the bathroom. Did you? What were you afraid of?
  6. What do you believe about cremation? Is it biblical? Would you choose to be cremated? Explain why or why not.

 

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario 1st VP/Chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons, January, 2017    

Light of the World

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Light of the World

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined…For a child has been born for us, a Son given to us”… and He is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah.9:2 and 6 New Revised Standard Version)

At the time that Isaiah wrote his words, 700 years before the Messiah was born, Isaiah tells us that the Israelites had abandoned God and He was about to bring the Assyrians down on them. In God’s own time He would send His only Son as their (and everyone else’s) Saviour.
Answering the question, “Who is this child; this Prince of Peace?” we read in the Gospel of John,

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)

Jesus sheds a powerful light on all of the lives that He touches. He is able to drive away the power and the terror of darkness, and free all who simply call on His name and believe in Him.
The painter William Holman Hunt created a series of allegorical paintings; one of the most famous is Jesus The Light of the World, which is based on the words

“Behold I am standing at the door and knocking. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you and you with Me.” (Rev.3:20)

The door, as painted, is heavily overgrown with weeds and vines. Jesus is holding a bright light outside the door. Besides that light and an illuminated halo around His head, all is in darkness. Hunt paints the door without a handle.
Bible Study Discussion Questions:
1) Give some examples of people you know who are walking in darkness: As you perceive them, do these people seem to be in a state of peace within themselves? With others?
2) Continuing in the same vein as question 1, Are they aware that they are walking in darkness? Do they have a strong faith in God?
3) Do you think there is a more than a “play on words” going on when we say a person is having a sense of dis-ease (lack of internal peacefulness) and when a person is suffering from a disease?
4) In John 8:12 Jesus says those who follow Him, “Have the light of life.” What does that phrase mean to you?
5) Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Do you think there was a reason why Jesus placed these words in the order that He did? What makes you think as you do?
6) In Hunt’s painting Jesus is rapping at the door and there is no outside handle on the door. Why is that? By doing this what message do you think Hunt meant to convey?
Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario 1stVP/chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons December, 2016

The Rabbi’s Story

Posted by on Oct 24, 2016 in Devotionals | 0 comments

The Rabbi’s Story

Then he [Jesus] called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile’ (Mark 7:14-15) and “‘For out of the heart come evil intentions…These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’” (Matthew15:19-20)

 

The story is told by a rabbi of a group of Hassidic Jews (very orthodox Jews) who entered an inn and after conversing with each other for some time, asked the inn-keeper if they could dine with him. The inn-keeper replied that he had no dairy foods, and only meat. Then the guests bombarded him with all their concerns as to whether he kept all the kosher laws. Then a beggar- who, it is implied in the story, had been listening to their conversation and whom they had not even noticed- spoke up and said, “With regard to what goes into your mouth you are scrupulous. Yet regarding what comes out of your mouths, you make no enquiries at all.” 1

In reading this account and in thinking about the Mark/Matthew Scriptures, I wondered not only how these situations apply narrowly to-day, but how these Scriptures might rightly be applied to other modern day situations which we encounter?

Discussion Questions for a Bible Study Discussion Group: 1) In what ways is this story the same, or different from Mark 7:14? 2) Also, considering the other Scripture passages cited below, discuss one or more recent situations where you have witnessed someone speaking hurtful poison about someone else and you did nothing to stop them. Why did you let them get away with that? How might you make amends? 3) If the tongue is the source of so much evil, why do you think God gave us tongues? 4) Instead of “paying back” someone for an evil/hurtful remark made, discuss ways in which you might instead “pay forward” a kindness? 5) Are you inclined to work at reconciliation with someone who has by word or deed hurt you? 6) To-day many people watch violent/pornographic TV or cinema; they may also take street drugs. Do these also defile us? And, if so, what are you doing to protect your children and yourselves from being defiled? 7) What do you think might be the significance of the protagonist being a beggar?

Other Scriptures to consider:

“No one can tame the tongue–a restless evil full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)

“To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted.” (Titus 1:15)

For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty.  Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; your own lips testify against you.” (Job 15:5-6)

Footnote 1: Rabbi R. Shapiro, translator. Hassidic Tales, Jewish Light Publications, Woodstock, VT, p.27

Written by Heather Whitehouse, ON 1St VP/Chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons, 2016

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving Holiday

Posted by on Sep 27, 2016 in Devotionals | 0 comments

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving Holiday

“Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sowsgenerously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need,you will abound in every good work.  As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures for ever.’  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”(2 Cor. 9:6-11bold/underlining added)

It seems to me that many of us misunderstand the real meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday! The general perception of the thanksgiving Holiday appears to many people be to be a time for us to come together, stuff ourselves overly-full, spent time with extended family (including trying to avoid those relatives that we really don’t like), watch football and most importantly bask in the knowledge of the all the “goodies” that God has given us, particularly as we happily compares ourselves to our poorer neighbours. We are warned “As man thinkith in his heart, so he is.” (Psalm 23:7)

We live in a very “me centred” world and our Bible passage clearly shows us that that conception is a very distorted understanding of how and what God is actually calling us to be, as we celebrate Thanksgiving! Dear Friends, how do the high-lighted portions of scripture above instruct us concerning making a godly Thanksgiving? Christians are the new Israel. God said to Israel, “In you all nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3) God heaps more blessings upon those who obey him, but He also punishes those who do not obey his commandments. Looking around the world to-day I really wonder have the Israelis’ lived up to their calling? And, as Christians? I also wonder have we have lived up to how God has called us?

Bible Study Discussion Questions: 1) The Lord loves cheerful givers. How cherrful a giver am I? 2) Thanksgiving is not primarily about all the blessings we have received. What is about? Would you agree with me that Thanksgiving is primarily about how we use of blessings? 3) If the celebration of Thanksgiving is actually about how bountiful both our lives AND the lives of others have become and about how we have touched as we have extended the grace and peace of Jesus Christ to the lives to our neighbours and to our nation, then what generous acts will you perform to share and to enact God’s true message this Thanksgiving?

  1. Other Scriptures to Consider: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…for where your treasures is, there also is your heart.”(Matthew 6:19-21) and “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all that she had to live on” ( Luke 21:1-4)

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario 1st VP/Chaplain, the King’s Daughters and Sons, 2016

Experiencing God in Jesus

Posted by on Sep 18, 2016 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Experiencing God in Jesus

“That I may know His resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformed to His death so that I might attain to the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11) ;“As you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” (Matt. 25:40)

Paul’s prayer is that he really wants to get to know God in the person of Jesus; believing in God is not the same thing as knowing God. Every so often I like to use a bit of my personal story in a devotion to teach. It seems to me that I cannot recall a time before I believed in God. Beginning as a young child I went to church and Sunday school with my god-parents, who were also our neighbours. There I learned that Jesus loved me; that Jesus died to take away my sins; that He is my redeemer and through Him I can gain eternal life. Yes, I believed in God even as a little child, but I did not really know God. As I grew up, I came to meet God through several different paths. In this devotion I want to focus on the path of knowing God in Jesus through knowing His children, who embody suffering. In 2009 I was the associate pastor of Welcome Inn Church, a Canadian inner–city church. I also worked at the Community Centre that the church ran. One day I made a pastoral visit to an unemployed man with mental health issues. I’ll call him Doug. When I arrived at his filthy apartment, I discovered that Doug was once again having a bed-bug problem. Doug greeted me. Pushing towards me his half-consumed bottle of Pepsi, he said, “Hi, pastor, glad you came to visit. I was hoping you’d come. You want some of my Pepsi?” I said, “Thanks, but no.” Immediately, I felt convicted of rejecting his hospitality. So, I said, “On second thought, sure” and took a sip (brushing my lips to the bottle, I secretly hoped I wouldn’t catch something), while saying “Thanks.” All the furniture Doug had in this room was the chair he had been occupying, a small table and his bed. Given the bed-bugs, I stood. Looking about I asked him, “What can I get for you or give you?” (I was figuring I could get him an extra chair from a thrift shop. That would do nicely.) Out of the blue, he said, “I can come to the Welcome Inn Community Centre. Would you teach me to read better? I want to read the Bible.” I was just blown away! I said, “Fine, we’ll do that.” I strongly felt at the time, and on reflection since, that through this surprising experience I was surely getting to know Jesus better.

Individual or group Discussion Questions: 1) If you have, where have you met Jesus? In prayer? In life situations? Somewhere else/some other way? Specify. 2) Have you had the experience of turning away from people who are extremely poor, mentally ill or otherwise suffering? Why did you do so? Was it because you were afraid (perhaps that by associating with them you would become like them)? 3) Do you think that God looks out for sick and marginalised people, or do you have honest doubts that this statement is true? 4) Might God have chosen to look out for sick and marginalised people not directly, but through us?

Other Scripture: “Let the little children come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

Written by: Heather Whitehouse, Ontario Chaplain, The King’s Daughters & Sons, Sept.2016

The Limits of Reason

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Devotionals | 0 comments

The Limits of Reason

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

A mystic and Hassidic rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “The search of reason ends at the shore of the known” and I fully agree with this statement. Some people argue that pure reason is all we need, but as I understand life, reason is no more than a very useful tool. Reason has its limits! Just as tradition, ritual and experience have useful and valuable places in our lives, reason, too, has its rightful place. But it is not the centre. God is the centre! God is the core of life. He is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of all life. God is the beating heart of the universe. Virginia Woolf wrote, “What does the brain matter compared to the heart?” (Mrs. Dalloway). Some people believe that reason is anathema to faith. Martin Luther said, “reason is the enemy of faith.” I believe that if reason were the supreme measure we ought to live by, then (to take an example) it is unreasonable for a child to deeply love a pet, because the pet will surely pass away in a few years leaving the child in many tears. And yet, the child chooses to love the pet knowing how it will end. Why? That choice is clearly un-reasonable. Seneca, the great Roman author answers the question. He said, “Time heals what reason cannot.” It seems to me that -although reason may serve it as one of her hand-maidens- the intrinsic value of faith vastly exceeds the importance of reason.

Group Discussion Questions:

1)      In what sense does the search for reason end at the shore what we know or can know?

2)      Do you agree, or disagree, with Virginia Woolf’s quote that the heart is far more important than reason? Did you come to this conclusion through experience or through some other manner?

3)      Would you agree with Martin Luther’s view that reason is the enemy of faith? Is it always the enemy?

4)      Does Seneca’s statement that “time heals what reason cannot” ring true for you? Why or what not?

A concluding reflection by rabbi Heschel to consider:

“God is not a hypothesis derived from assumptions, but an immediate insight, self-evident as light. He is not something to be sought in the darkness with the light of reason. He is the light.”

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario 1st VP/Chaplain, The Kings’ Daughters and Sons, Summer, 2016

Being and Nothingness

Posted by on Jun 26, 2016 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Being and Nothingness

“All things came into being through Him and without Him nothing came into being. What has come into being in Him was life” (John 1:3-4)

God “calls into existence things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17)

For this devotion I offer a number of my personal beliefs for you to consider as to whether you too believe as I do, or otherwise: I believe that when God created humans He created us for relationship with Himself. In His love for us, along with the quality of “being,” God gave us the possibility of “becoming.” I believe that this gift of becoming is based upon the principle that we have choice, just as Adam and Eve had. And one possibility is that we may become/grow more like Him over time; if we decide we want to become more Christ-like, then God will assist us. Of course, we might decide to grow in another way. Finally, in my opinion God is Himself apart from His creation.

Bible Study Discussion Questions:  

  1. Do you agree or disagree that God created us for relationship with Himself? What are your reasons? Provide some scriptural passages to support your belief.
  2. A good number of people believe that even before we are born God knows in advance what choices we will ultimately make. These people are called pre-destinarians. Other people believe that essentially “if you do your very best, God will do the rest.” These people follow Gabriel Biel. (This is my position.) What do you believe and why? What Bible texts do you rely upon?
  3. 2 Peter 3:7 reads “The present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until that day of judgement and destruction of the godless.” Referring to the present heavens, earth and ungodly people verse 11 adds “Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way…” Do you accept that God will act like this? If you believe this is going to happen to godless people, would you agree, or disagree, with Meister Eckhart who wrote that “falling away from God means falling from ‘being’ [back] into ‘nothingness?’” (Sayings of Meister Eckhart)
  4. Lastly, if as I think “God is apart from His creation,” what does that statement mean to you? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario 1stVP/chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons,

Summer, 2016

Pain

Posted by on Jun 8, 2016 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Pain

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

“Suffering is not overcome by leaving pain. Suffering is overcome by bearing pain for the sake of others” (writings of the 14th Dalai Lama)

Our spontaneous reaction to suffering and pain is revulsion. We are afraid of pain and when even the possibility of suffering pain arises, we rush to find ways to eliminate this possibility. We wonder, “Why does a good God allow pain?” More than one person has rejected God, because we humans look for logical reasons when things happen, but we often see no explanation.

C.S. Lewis argues that God uses pain “to rouse a deaf world.” In the film Shadowlands Lewis’ wife, Joy, teaches him that by entering into human relationships we have the possibility of experiencing love; but love inevitably and ultimately is bound up with pain and the sadness of the beloved one’s passing. As Joy says, “That’s the deal.”

I’d like to add my own thoughts. Jesus calls us to also enter into relationships with the poor, the weak and the enemy. However, we are to do this not just to do good to them, but to be with them. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Matt. 5:44) and Matthew tells us, “He was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously … and be put to death and to be raised on the third day.” (Matt. 16:21) Thus, Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection are both linked and they have become our model.

Bible Study Discussion Questions:

1)Do you agree with Joy Lewis’ “That’s the deal” quote? 2)Why do you think Jesus calls us not only to do good to the weak, poor, enemies etc., but to be, to abide, and it is not to exaggerate to say to live amidst them? 3) Our intellect requires logical understanding. Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me.” Matt. 16:23. What does this quote have to do with intellectual requirements? 4) When God uses pain “to rouse a deaf world” might our task (in part) be to help reduce pain, even if we cannot eliminate it?

Written by Heather Whitehouse, On 1stVP/Chaplain, The King’s Daughters and Sons, June, 2016

Compassionate?

Posted by on May 9, 2016 in Devotionals | 0 comments

Compassionate?

“in so much as you did this to the least of these brothers of mine you did it to Me”
(Matthew 25:40)

Please read Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25:31-46.

Christian truths are made visible in the context of our personal experience. Christ tells those who marvel at finding themselves amongst the elect that “in so much as you did this to the least of these brothers of mine you did it to Me.” The essential question to then ask is,“Who is the least of the brethren? What happens if, when we look within ourselves, we discover that it is ourselves, which is the offender, the beggar, the impure, the mentally ill, in other words the enemy who has to be loved? The answer is that in reality we may scorn this part of ourselves. Carl Jung, the great psychiatrist, had something to say about this situation. He wrote, “Had it been God Himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied Him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.”[1]

Jesus said, “Love one another.” Jesus also said, “Love your neighbour, as much as you love yourself (Mark 12:31). Can we give to our neighbor what we deny to ourselves? If not, then it follows that the compassion that we deny to ourselves, we also will deny to others. And the despicable thing we see in others is all too commonly the same quality we also have, although we may deny we have this quality. Jesus said, Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3) Our personal struggle with self-rejection is at the root of rejecting others! The most effective antidote to this situation is to constantly keep in our hearts such statements as, when Jesus said, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you; abide in My love. (John 15:9)

Bible Study Discussion Questions: 1) As Christians we’re brought up to out-of-hand reject Carl Jung’s quote (above), but what if he is speaking the truth? 2) Are we ever able to reach out in compassion/mercy to someone else, when- if we had the same issue (say, for instance, being in prison for stealing) – we would not show compassion or understanding toward ourselves?   3) What is the sin you find in others that you most loathe? What is the sin in yourself that you most loathe? 4) Regarding those people you most despise, what is it that you fear in them? 5) Psychiatrists say each person has a “shadow” side to his/her personality. Can we embrace our “shadow”? And if we can, what can we do to practice embracing our “shadow”?

Other Relevant Scripture:

“Those who say, ‘I love God’ and hate their brother, are liars;” “Perfect love casts out fear;” and “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4: 20, 18 and 19, in that order)

 

[1] Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul (New York: Harcourt and Brace, 1933) p. 235.

 

Written by Heather Whitehouse, Ontario 1stVP/Chaplain , the King’s Daughters & Sons, May, 2016