Love and the Law

Loi de dieu coeur“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment”

(James 2:13, NASB). 

2014-10-30 Love and the Law

Our Certitudes


Making a decisionAugustine, the church father of the fifth century, was very close in his youth to the groups inspired by the Manichaeism, a major Gnostic religion of his time, founded by Mani, an Iranian prophet. It is interesting to note why he didn’t finally accept to follow their teachings. He found that they are not always pertinent regarding their own identity. They were able to contradict the positions of others and not necessarily capable to explain their own philosophy with conviction. Here is the quotation from his book “De Utilitate Credendi: “But what reason, on the other hand, recalled me, not to be altogether joined to them, so that I continued in that rank which they call of Hearers, so that I resigned not the hope and business of this world; save that I noticed that they also are rather eloquent and full in refutation of others, than abide firm and sure in proof of what is their own.” (p. 2.)

We can also have the same attitude. As we hear the position of others, we are very talented to discover the errors in their reasoning. However, we don’t spend enough of time to clarify our own position, to be familiar with what we strongly believe, and to determine what the important values in our life are. Thus, we are easily shaken in our convictions and the result is that almost insignificant things can change the directions of our entire life.

The apostle Paul said it eloquently: “I’m not ashamed [of my faith] for I know whom I have believed.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Therefore, take time to understand who you are, what you believe, and what is the essence of your identity.  And when you discover your certitudes, don’t spend too much time in fighting the positions of others. May all your focus be on the truth that you have discovered. Fight for the truth you know and be kind with those who don’t know what you know. May through this standpoint you become more tolerant of others and less confused about yourself. And this is really worthy of all your efforts.

Habemus Iesum Christum


Thousands and thousands of faithful people came to the St. Peter’s Square on March 13, 2013, waiting for the election of the new pope. It was only the second day of the conclave. But they were right. The white smoke confirmed that the cardinals chose someone among them to take the charge of the Bishop of Rome. The jubilant crowd has received with delight the famous words: ‘Habemus Papam’ (We have the Pope). Their exultation was really profound. Without knowing the new pontiff, they’ve just continued to appreciate this important moment and to express their gladness for the new leader of the Catholic Church.

Thinking of their pure and sincere joy, we cannot avoid thinking about the attitude of every child of God. In fact, we have so many reasons to be happy, to be delighted. Every day we can experience the wonderful reality of having someone who is our guide and our protector, and who doesn’t need to be elected. He is on our side since the beginning of the world. To use the same expression as it was pronounced on the St. Peter’s Square, and using the Vulgate version of the Bible, we can affirm: “Habemus Iesum Christum”:

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father, Jesus Christ. The one who is truly righteous.” (1 John 2: 1.) In Latin, ‘Habemus advocatum Iesum Christum Iustum’.

N. T. Wright, a very known New Testament scholar, declared, “When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves – that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience.”

What a joy to have Jesus Christ. What a blessed assurance to have Him as our Lord and Savior. “Looking unto Jesus we obtain brighter and more distinct views of God, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness, love for our fellow men, becomes our natural instinct. We develop a character which is the counterpart of the divine character. Growing into His likeness, we enlarge our capacity for knowing God. More and more we enter into fellowship with the heavenly world, and we have continually increasing power to receive the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of eternity. (Ellen G. White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 355.)

Let’s allow God to fill our hearts with the joy of Jesus-Christ. And may this joy be perfectly seen in our life, until His coming. Be glad. HABEMUS IESUM CHRISTUM.

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True religion and its simplicity


When one passes by the Barrington Street in Halifax, he is sure to notice the St. Mary Basilica. It is a magnificent edifice, reminiscent of the fervor of its founders in 1820.  It’s fame in Nova Scotia is such that Pope John Paul II visited it in the sixth year of its pontificate. But above all, what strikes the visitor is the inscription written above its three main doors:  “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism”.

It is a quote from the epistle to the Ephesians, where the apostle Paul sends a vibrant message. His remarks bear the strength of simplicity. They constitute a program that is easy to remember, and emphasize what matters most: the unity of the Church of God. And this idea challenges us today.

In fact, the Christian message is increasingly complex, and creates some kind of confusion among the hundreds of views found in Christendom. According to many contemporary religious pundits, to talk seriously about religion, one has to study theology for at least four years. Yet, the final result would not be guaranteed. For instance, the interpretation of fundamental Bible texts will depend on the school of thoughts, or the affiliation of the training institution.

Nonetheless, God has always wanted to simplify His relationship with human beings. They are the ones who created all kinds of useless burdens. They are the ones who talked about the financial requirements, the administrative votes, the sacraments, the encyclicals, the deadly sins, and so on. Jesus saw things in a different way. His thought remains unchanged. Woe to you!  For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men (Mark 7:8).

For too long Christians did not realize that by multiplying the rules, they weakened the revolutionary message of Jesus.

I am deeply convinced that one of the aspects of our identity that Isaiah talks about means exactly that. “The Repairer of the Breach” is certainly the one who proclaims the gospel in its simplicity and its incredible strength to transform humanity by the power of God’s grace.”

Therefore, I accept the idea of,     “one Lord,”  but I reject all other intercessors ‘under heaven’. I accept ‘one faith’, but I refuse to add a line voted by human assemblies. I accept ‘one baptism’, as a sign of entry into the kingdom of God and the church, but I cannot imagine that one of my actions could qualify me for eternity. I understand that by abiding in Jesus, I become a child of God. And it is this concept of unity that I am looking for; not the one that comes from human negotiations, but the one that springs from our attachment to Jesus.

This is how I would like to call everyone to live in unity by the strength that God gives us through the action of His Son. Let’s turn to Him.

He has the solutions to all our challenges. Let’s seek His balm. He is the One who will heal us.    “The cause of division and discord in families and in the church is separation from Christ. To come near to Christ is to come near to one another. The secret of true unity in the church and in the family is not diplomacy, not management, not a superhuman effort to overcome difficulties—though there will be much of this to do—but union with Christ. (Mind, Character, and Personality, p. 501).

The time in which we live is more than serious. The foundations of the Western economy are shaking. Global warming threatens our survival. Extremism is gaining ground and secularism alienates people. The only hope is God. Let us keep life simple by following His teachings.

May our spiritual life be strong because it is anchored in Jesus-Christ. May we live in unity with God and human beings. May every day of our life give us an opportunity to invite everyone to turn their eyes toward the One who is the author and finisher of our faith. We have this privilege. May we be worthy of our vocation.

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The Abundant Life

Reflections on Psalm 103

 Modern man tends to forget things. He is more easily distracted than previous generations. Thanks to the latest technology, he can work on many projects at once. In this relentless pursuit of performance, and achievements, he forgets to live.  His soul is unable to turn to core values and to find meaning in life’s simple pleasures. Psalm 103 is definitely a poem that can help him to reflect on the quality of life, and the « abundant life » as Jesus saw it.


The psalm is made of 11 stanzas, with a chiasmus commonly found in Bible literature. In this structure, the most important message is at the centre of the text and all the other elements are presented in parallel phrases, as if to emphasize the central message. The key point of Psalm 103 is confirmed by its construction and is vital for human beings: God wants fulfilment and happiness for His children. There are 11 principles that we must not forget if we want to live a life that is both satisfying and blessed.

1. Don’t forget God’s blessings

The Torah reminded the Israelites the dangers of forgetfulness: “When you have eaten and are full, then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage”  (Deuteronomy 6:12). We must admit that the beautiful country in which we live is much closer to prosperity than what we could imagine for God’s people in the Promised Land: They did not have washing machines, a central heater, tap water, and so on. Yet they forgot to thank God for all His blessings. The same thing could happen to us if we fall prey to the prevailing discontentedness depicted in the text of Pierre Dac, the French poet:

Never happy

People never satisfied with their lot
Are those who are always complaining
That things are bad
When everything is not well;
Who, when everything is well,
Complain that everything is not very well;
Who, when everything is very well,
Complain that everything is not excellent;
Who, when everything is excellent,
Complain that everything is not perfect;
Who, when everything is perfect,
Complain that perfection doesn’t belong to this world;
Who, when they have everything they want,
Complain that they don’t have everything they dream of;
And who, when they have everything they want,
And everything they dream of,
Fall into a depression,
For they have nothing to desire,
And nothing to long for.

2) Don’t Forget that God Heals You

We are grateful for the remarkable work of health professionals, but we must keep in mind a fundamental truth: God is the author of life and He is the one who heals us. Moreover, His action is holistic. He gives us physical health, forgiveness and crowns us with goodness. Therefore, it is important to maintain a close relationship with Him through prayer and meditation.

3) Don’t forget God’s Will

Sometimes God’s ways seem restricting. Many people think that they are contrary to their freedom. However, David reminds us that God’s revelation to Moses contributes to man’s happiness in a remarkable way. Let’s remember God’s words to Isaiah: “Oh, that you had heeded my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18).

4) Don’t Forget Who God Is

The phrase ‘abounding in mercy’ could also be translated as ‘chief, Lord of mercy. The phrase RAV in Hebrew is a term describing someone who is full of respect (the word ‘Rabi’ derives from it). It also has a military connotation representing a commander, or a captain. We must never forget that God is the epitome of goodness. When a problem arises, we are prone to accuse Him. Nonetheless, Christians know that we have a God like none other. He is the source of benevolence. No one else is as merciful as He is.

5) Don’t Forget Who God is Not

Here we see that God does not keep His anger forever. This is a good example for men and women who succumb too often to their irritation. The Hebrew word for anger is ‘aph’ which also means ‘the nose’ and refers to the red nose of those who are exasperated and who are breathing with agitation. But God is not like that and His children would do well to imitate Him. When we think about the abundant life, and wellness, we must bear in mind that we need inner peace to grow a strong body.

6) Don’t Forget to Receive Forgiveness

Most people bear their burdens for too long. They cannot get rid of their guilt feelings, clumsiness, and imperfection. So they focus on their mistakes and live in auto-destruction. God offers a much better alternative: by the action of His grace, He wants to keep our past far from us. He is ready to make it inaccessible, and far from our present experience. He wants us to keep our eyes on the bright future that He is preparing for us. That is why He removes our transgressions from us “as the heavens are high above the earth, and as far as the east is from the west”.

7) Don’t Forget Who You Are

On the temple built in Delphes, the Greeks wrote the following: “Know yourself.” They considered this as the ultimate knowledge or religious experience. The Bible teaches something else. It says that the most important thing is to know God, because to know Him is life eternal (John 17:3). And then He will help us to know ourselves because He is our Creator and He sees us, not as we are, but as we may become in Him (1 John 3:1-3). That is why David invites us not to forget the way that God looks at us and that shows His patience toward us.

8 ) Don’t Forget Who You Are Not

The Turks used to say: “Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.” But we tend to forget that. We think that everything is possible, and that the future can be up to our dreams. The Bible writers remind us to take it easy by saying that we are “like the wind”, or as Moses said: ‘like a sigh’ (Psalm 90:9). For those who accept it, this truth is of the utmost importance. By accepting our frailty we will become more ‘realistic’, less solitary and we will learn to be interdependent. Above all, we will value the life that God has given us. Yes, life is short, and so it is in the valley of the shadow of death. The good news of salvation will soon be realized and we will obtain the indestructible life that God has promised.

9) Don’t Forget that which is Eternal

Cicero said: “God’s law is ‘right reason’. When perfectly understood, it is called ‘wisdom’. When applied by government in regulating human relations it is called ‘justice.” If we look at David’s perspective, we will agree thatCicerois right. David knew that God is always faithful, and that He will abide with human beings, no matter what. May we take advantage of this affirmation to taste His faithfulness, the beauty of His covenant and allow Him to live within our hearts.

0) Don’t Forget that God is in Control.

God is the Master of the universe. Angels, cherubs, seraphs, and a host of beings bow before Him. Unfortunately, the human beings on spaceship Earth strive to dominate and control things. So many couples divorce simply because one person wants to be right! How many bloody battles are due to the fact that we do not want to submit to God’s reign. Our psalm reaffirms God’s sovereignty. It is best for us to invite Him to reign in our hearts.

 11)  Don’t Forget to Live in Harmony with the Universe

God created us to find fulfillment in worship. It is in the total and permanent connection to the source of life that we must live. It is by uplifting our Creator that we find the right perspective. It is only when we bow before God that we find our true selves. Joseph L. Garlington said: “To worship is to act as inferior before a superior. When I worship God, I am saying by my actions, ‘God, you are better than I am. You are bigger than I am. You are more than I am.’” Unless we understand this, we are nothing.

What better way to conclude this reflection on the abundant life by quoting C.S. Lewis who reminds us how to build a life worth living: ‘We only learn to behave ourselves as humans in the presence of God.” May this fundamental text of King David become a permanent inspiration for us. Yes, life of quality is possible. Let’s not forget to live fully like those who are blessed, those who know God and His love, but also know their own weaknesses, those who, above all, live by God’s grace, in harmony with the universe, and surrender their lives to Him. Obviously, such a life of happiness, joy and worship is exciting.

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