We were looking yesterday at John’s journey from being a ‘son of thunder’ to being a father figure in the early church who urged those first Christians to greater love for each other. He did this by reminding them in his letters of Jesus’ new commandment, and by pointing them to the sacrificial love that Jesus Himself displayed on the cross.
Brian Simmons, translator of The Passion Translation, tells us that Boanerges ‘sons of thunder’ could also be translated ‘sons of commotion’ or ‘easily angered’, and I think it is wonderful that it was Jesus Himself who gave James and John that nickname. The Lord knew and understood them, and He loved them. He had created them, He knew their potential, and He knew that he could channel their passion and teach them a better way.
As we seek to follow Jesus command to love each other as He has loved us, we will undoubtedly find some of our brothers and sisters easier to love than others. Personality, upbringing, personal history etc all play their part in how we relate to each other. And sometimes, as we travel the road with our fellow Christians, and as we get to know them, we can think that we understand them, but even then we may find it hard to really love them as Jesus did.
There are those in the body of Christ who bless and encourage us, those we feel joined to and those we can more readily love. It is easy to thank the Lord for them and to naturally find ourselves wanting them to be blessed and to grow. There are however others of the family of God who trigger some more negative emotions.
We may feel irritated by things they say or do. We may feel jealous or envious, even feeling that they have more favour from God or other Christians than us. There will also be those of whom we are critical or judgemental, who we feel are not up to the mark. And then there may well be those who provoke resentment in us, who offend us and also those who we struggle to forgive. My thought today is that for these saints too, we can be thankful.
We can be thankful for them because they are God’s children like us. Because Jesus died for them and they are therefore precious to Him. There is also another reason to thank God for them, and this is because God will use them to ‘flag up’ to us, areas where we need to get closer to the hub of the wheel, closer to Jesus, (see yesterday’s blog). They help us to see that we need to get more filled with the Holy Spirit, receiving His wisdom and understanding. We will then be able to produce the fruit of love and patience, even towards those we find difficult, with the love that ‘He has poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’. Romans 5:5.
John, was changed from being a ‘son of thunder’ to the apostle of love, by standing close to Jesus. He allowed himself to be corrected and trained by the Lord but also, I imagine, he would have observed how so often Jesus handled a wide variety of people in a way that was completely new to him. Finally it was John who Jesus called ‘the son of thunder’ who stood at the foot of the cross and saw Jesus die. He saw and heard Him with his last breath ask for forgiveness for those who had dealt so savagely with Him.
So today I can thank the Lord for every relationship that blesses me and every relationship that challenges me. As I thank the Lord I will draw close to Him like John did, I will hear His gentle rebukes, His words of wisdom and training. I will see people through His eyes and be filled with His love for them. I can thank the Lord that every negative reaction I have just tells me I need to draw closer to Jesus, to stand again like John before the cross and then to receive some more of His endless love, until I overflow with it to my brothers and sisters who have been causing me difficulties.