Kingdom has come and is coming…

What great changes we are seeing in practice and thought patterns, I firmly believe that we live in an age that the people of God are experiencing a new reformation at every level.    A massive transformation is happening around us, Dispensational practice and theology is in images-6the last shakes for survival as the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ is growing and affecting the thinking of the church, the people of God.   Its onward advance is transforming our responsibility for creation rather than upholding a hoped escapism, it brings an accountability for transformation in our societies rather than doing away with a fallen world, it is the Kingdom of God at hand!

We are born to a very challenging yet exciting moment of advance as Father God makes known God’s purpose and will.   Today we are much more given to the language and practice of ‘mission,’ ‘transformation,’ bringing the rule of God to earth to see the coming of the Kingdom of God.    Jesus said the kingdom ‘…has come….and is coming…’, for some this means that over the years we have had to deal with the immediacy of the kingdom ‘…has come…’ being careful not to get lost into triumphalism with ‘Kingdom now’, only now having to deal with the onward transformation of ‘…the Kingdom is coming and will come…’, this is where our labour comes in, the travail until Jesus receives the ‘travail of his soul’ Isa 53:11

Church historians tell us that following every move of God approximately 30 to 35 years on, those affected in the move turn to transformation initiatives prior to another move of God.   Historically an example of this can be seen following the move of God in the UK with John and Charles Wesley in their education, health, etc, initiatives.   The UK experienced a move of God some 30/35 years ago commonly name the ‘house church movement’, this was a move, as it changed the structure of the church and theology.   Note it also was not isolated to the UK.   Similar move happened with a groups of men and women in South America, South Africa, USA and I am told Australia, they may have been under different names but there was a move of God afoot.

However, I can only comment on the UK, I believe what we are seeing in the UK now is not a recycling of history but the impact of a Kingdom Gospel.   Time will only tell, if it is history recycling we are on the verge of another move, but I seeing it as the coming of the Kingdom along with our growing grasp of understanding relating to the Kingdom of God.   I write this as an introduction to a book review that I believe all should take time to read to ensure our Kingdom is foundationally correct in all the changes we are seeing.   Please note this book was written many years ago and does not contain all the advances made over the last 40 years however a good place to commence a journey from. It is imperative we establish continually our foundation as we advance and fresh revelation breaks in on us, it is necessary to be able to contain revelation.

I will introduce chapters for you, this blog will only deal with the initial chapters so you can think on them, then we will return in the next blog to further chapters continuing our thinking.

‘The Gospel of the Kingdom‘       George Eldon LaddUnknown

Chapter 1 – What is the Kingdom of God? – There are diverse interpretations of the Kingdom of God. This is the result of the many varying different interpretations that are found within the Bible. The Kingdom of God is seen as a present spiritual reality, (Rom 14:17) the Kingdom is also an inheritance which God will bestow upon His people. (Mat 25:34)  The Kingdom of God therefore holds two tensions closely; it is a present spiritual reality but at the same time the Kingdom has a future realm as well. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. Gods rule is also an everlasting rule and reign. In order for one to enter the future realm of the Kingdom of God, one must submit himself in perfect trust to God’s rule here and now. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. It is an everlasting rule and reign.

Chapter 2 – The Kingdom is Tomorrow – George Eldon Ladd explains how the Kingdom of God can be held in two different spheres as a present spiritual reality & a future hope by explaining that there are two different ages; this age and the age to come.

This age is dominated by wickedness, evil & rebellion against the will of God, whilst the age to come is the age of the Kingdom whereby God’s rule and reign will be at the centre. Ladd explains that the drive of ambition for wealth & success are all involved with the cares of this age. He suggests that the spirit of this age is hostile to the Gospel of Jesus. In Ephesians it talks about Satan being the prince of the air, this age is defined by Satan having the power of the air.

The age to come will witness the fullness of God’s Kingdom, the perfection of God’s reign. Ladd explains that we will never experience the full blessings of Gods Kingdom in this age as he argues that death will not be destroyed until the final judgment at the end of the rule of Christ talked about in Revelation.

Chapter 3 – Kingdom of God is TodayHeb 6:5, ‘who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the age to come,’ displays that which belongs to the future has become a present reality.  By the power of the age to come may be delivered from the from this present evil age. Within this chapter Ladd goes onto explain that the Kingdom of God has invaded this age.

In the last chapter it was suggested that death will not completely be destroyed until the end of the millennial rule of Christ.  Although this is true it is important to note that through Jesus’ resurrection the triumph over death has begun and Satan has already been defeated. (Heb 2:14) Jesus life on earth broke the power of Satan. Satan is a defeated enemy and because of this we may be delivered from the power of this evil age into the Kingdom of God.  Therefore we can bring God’s rule and Kingdom, age to come into the present evil age.

Chapter 4 – The Mystery of the Kingdom – The Mystery of the Kingdom is that it has come amongst men, but yet men can reject it. God’s Kingdom is working among men, but it will not compel them to bow before it, they must receive it through a willing heart and a submissive will.  The Kingdom of God does not force itself upon men; it is not like a stone grinding an image to powder but the Kingdom requires a submissive heart & will.

The Kingdom of God has come to work among men, destroying human rule & abolishing all that stand against the Father will from the earth.  The Kingdom offers men blessings of God’s rule, delivering men from the power of Satan. However the Kingdom will not work with an ‘irresistible power,’ but will work within the hearts of men that have submitted to God’s rule & reign.

 

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A Bridge its life, leadership & all that.

Bridge building is an art!      I realised over the years how much of life is about building bridges, which we all have to do constantly.    If it’s the first meeting or one from a deeper relationship it’s still needs the ongoing art of bridge building.

I was trained as builder, a building surveyor, RICS was the professional qualifications we aimed for to achieve our skill.   I was trained  to have a grasp of many elements within the building industry, it was not about mastering one particular discipline, but being the coordinating point for many trades and professions within the industry.   I learned topography, out in cold and sunny days working a theodolite, walking across the landscape.   I studied quantities, working out the quantities and costs of erecting a structure.    I designed buildings architecturally, drew plans , drafted contracts, compiled specification, run multi-million pound construction contracts.   Even designed watery dams, and BRIDGES, working the stresses and strains, the forces that bridges have to carry.   Calculating the engineering of building concrete or steel even wooden bridges.    Building bridges,  the stresses and strains, the art involved in building these life long structures.

The stresses and strains of the art of bridge building I have realised  is a picture of ongoing life, that my life is involved in this complex engineer of bridge building with lives and relationships continuously.     We daily build these bridge or weaken them.   I recall being advised that I better make sure that the bridge of my relationship with others is strong enough to carry the load I wish to transport across it before I take the load up with people.     It’s of no use to end up saying “…well its the way I am, blunt…”, which might be true, when the bridge of relationship cannot any longer carry any kind of load.   Its better to take several trips across the bridge of this relationship with a lesser loads until you get it all across than rushing at it while smiling and looking back having got across only to realise when you get across that the bridge is so fragile now nothing can be carried across it!

The art of bridge building we have to learn to negotiate life and people as well as in our own lives.

I am not setting myself up as an expert, far from it, just a simple commentator on life and its challenges, I am learning, I hope to negotiate and being a bridge builder, perhaps a Biblical peace maker?

So we agree in the importance of connecting with those we work, live, partner with in life, ministry, vocation, profession, work with and meet in everyday life, particularly in this culture where new relationships can be intimidating, and 15-minute lunches are common. The following are some thoughts on how to best build a connecting bridge of partnership between yourself and another person

  1. Love people until they ask “why?” what about getting to the place that the actions of you loving people speaks so loudly that people “ultimately demand an explanation for why you do what you do.   
  2. Ask more questions than others do. Discover that asking questions is much more strategic than giving answers
  3. Spend lots of time listening. “Once you’ve asked a great question, listen. And listen more. And listen more,” O boy do we need help, O boy do I need help.
  4. Find points of connection and shared interests, Be intentional!  Make a point to discover the person’s interests, hobbies, and what truly motivates them. Then build on shared interests.
  5. Follow-up. How Important this is, as you never heard from some one will not mean thy have cut or are disinterested they are like you busy.   Come on be bigger and lest grow up.   Try this take the first step and reach out, then once you have done that, do it again.   I sadly heard a comment recently “…I tried contacting them, they did not come back so I forget about it, let it go…” Let us build  a bridge and try, try again, again!

The art of bridge building, we could build the longest, the highest, the most scenic, most significant bridge in regard to relationship that people have ever seen, let’s do it let’ s have a go, don’t give up build it.   I think a film several years ago called ‘Field of Dreams’ coined a phrase once “…if you build it they will come…” Build a Bridge.

Keeping up image & likeness

I was so moved today reading the ‘Cape Times’, two stories caught my attention, one of a 17-year-old girl who was gang raped,  all of which was caught on a mobile telephone and subsequently went  viral on the internet.  The video shows her being offered R2 (R12.5 to the £; R7.8 to $) to keep silent.   The other was a story from India, New Delhi and Amritsar, it out lined an account of two fathers, one who beat and burned his daughter with cigarettes as she was a girl – she was only 3 months old.   The second story  of a father who strangled his wife as she gave birth to a third daughter, another girl.   The UN states that a girl is 75% more likely to be killed in India than male children, it is reported by the UN  to be the worst country world on its treatment of women and girls.

I am scandalised, what violence on individuals, but more what violence on Gods wisdom in creating women, I don’t know about you, are you stirred by it ?  I am not covering up the atrocities that happen all across the world in other places either, Africa and Europe has its share as well.   I am moved as to how humanity deals with its self.   I am also stirred at the treatment of females worldwide.

Before we switch off thinking this is all happening somewhere else, thinking how dreadful but, is on another shore in another nation, let us consider our actions and perceived realities towards women.    It could be that lives are not taken in our society, but consider how we treat females different to males, surely this  is also needing to change and be addressed.

I am not looking for equality either I am asking for righteousness and justice to be shown in all things about gender.   If we do anything else we will always have a fight, so what do I mean by righteousness on this matter?   It is to discover the eternal view regarding man and women, to find out the foundational view of the Father and be in the same line towards humanity keeping the principles set in the Fathers heart towards humanity.   Let us not get involved with the argument on what is equality, but come back to what God says, then live and change to make our world conform to the view of the eternal Godhead, it really is the only answer.

Our world is on a course of elevating women I believe its time for the church to discover the right view of God in regards to men and women.    Much of our practice came from a fallen condition, patriarchy for instance is not a pattern taken from the Godhead, rather in the Godhead we see each one giving to the other, each one serving and pouring out for each other ‘Perichoresis’.     This is not about male headship or dominance neither is it about feminism, it is time to discover an eternal view and make it happen.

Let me outline a thought for you, we have in Genesis a view breaking in to a  time-space world of the requirement of male and female in the design of God.  it begins with Gods’ statement “…it is not good for man to be alone…”, I wonder what  your view has been regarding that statement?   Perhaps it was something that you were taught in Sunday school of the loneliness of mankind, Adam.  Looking again at the text, to my understanding this was a declaration that humanity did not fully reflect the image and likeness of God, as humanity was alone. This statement highlighted to us that God is never alone; for God is in covenant, therefore to be in the image and likeness of God there cannot be singularity there must always be more than one.

In the process of creation, we see Adam’s partnership in creation with the Father in naming the animals, Adam being the prophet giving word and describing god’s actions, interpreting God’s actions. It is my conviction that Adam did not simply name the animals, e.g. a lion, giraffe, etc., but working with God Adam named the DNA and interpreted God’s creation.

After this partnership God did not bring animals to Adam to see which one was compatible to humanity as a mate, that is a foolish thought in my view, as intimacy can only be found with the same “thing”, more on that to come.  Having “named the animals”, Adam – humanity, is put into a deep sleep.  Humanity/Adam was male and female at this time, and only at that point were they separated.   The reason was so that humanity could reflect the image and likeness of God, there has to be more than one. This thought challenges all individuality and singleness, establishing clearly that the image of God is found in more than one-corporeity.

God, the Father, the Son and Spirit brought about that which reflected them. There is so much we could say on this but this is not the time.

The Hebrew thought on this, taken from the text in Genesis, is that God did not take a side or a rib, but within the clay and the ruach there were already two faces present, one representing male and the other representing female.   God recreated them bringing the 2 faces to face one another.    It is from this idea we also read in the Old Testament the description of Moses, Abraham and others, of their quality of relationship with God being known as a ‘face-to-face’ relationship. Humanity is a picture of God and man having the capacity to be in a face-to-face relationship and the gift of marriage is also model of this ‘face-to-face’ relationship. I don’t know about you but I love this Hebrew picture, it paints for me the quality of relationship I have with God and reminds me that the gift of my marriage is to display this.

Now coming back to the thought above… ‘you can only be intimate with the same stuff’, can you see why Adam could not have found a relationship with animals, they were not of the same stuff.  God took that which was clay and breath and from this took the triumph of female.     Paul in the book of Ephesians talks about the picture of the bride and bridegroom, the Christ and the Church being displayed in marriage. Firstly this face-to-face relationship and secondly that Adam and Eve were the same stuff, here we have the exciting discovery that you and I having been born from above have an intimacy with God, because we are all the same stuff as God. How do I know I am the same stuff as God?    It is his desire to be intimate with me.     What a salvation!

Another thought, in Genesis 1 we have a clear pattern laid out for us, the male and female are called to display the image and likeness of God, not to establish superiority or subservient views.  The account is far more about ruling together, filling together, enlarging and advancing the ultimate intention of God together.  I would suggest that this account is an eternal view breaking in on this time-space world.   Following this through in history, we read Paul’s statement in Galatians  “…neither Jew or Gentile, male or female master or slave…” Is Paul taking his lead from the kingdom that is breaking in upon us?  Taking his lead from the eternal realm, displaying and speaking forth what it is like in the true economy and kingdom of God.  I fully understand that patriarchy, dominance and subservience has been displayed through many of the pictures in the Old Testament but this does not mean that this is what the kingdom should be like or how eternity functions.  I would suggest that Genesis 1 with a constant flow together of male and female is how we need to operate and Paul’s statement only affirms Gods creating order, there is neither, the eternal order, the invading Kingdom of God order.    Please hear me, in our fallen world clearly there are functional differences but we have to learn to be herald righteous and just and uphold Gods eternal kingdom.

If our world constantly break down and remove women to such a low-level, causing them to live dominated, it is time for the church of God to show the righteousness of God and display a different way.   In Ephesians Paul’s tells us that man should love his wife to display the Christ and the bridegroom. Has not the bridegroom lifted up the bride and seated the bride on the throne, therefore let me suggest that man’s way should be to lift woman higher than themselves for is this not what the love of Christ has done for us, and is this not true headship.  Unfortunately as men we so quickly become dominating and press women down. Men I ask that we become the liberators of women in these days.   This is not a post-modern or a modern way of thinking but it is a rediscovery of the eternal value maleness and femaleness in the image and likeness of God.

Just as Christ serves the church we better serve one another so that the bride may truly be lifted up. Is it not amazing that all across the world, in virtually every culture women are subservient, beaten; young female children are treated with a lack of value.    It is time for the eternal people of God to speak out rather than allowing perceived realities to continue to imprison. My appeal is that we become male and female, and advance the kingdom of God together, just as God would have us to do.

There is so much more to come revelation, biblically and theologically that we are discovering in these days regarding male and female.    Let us reflect righteously the view of eternity, for this is the Kingdom of God that is breaking in upon us, as we taste more and more of the order of God.

With the Fathers empowerment we will and should bring to an end stories such as we began with throughout our world, Politicians speak out, the church do not stay silent.    Wars are fought on treasures in the ground, boundaries of nations but silence regarding such atrocities as we began this article with continue. Really its violence to the image and likeness of God let us highly regard one another and be what God intending firstly n the church family then in our world.

Mission – Missional – Missionary

Face our Mission

Mission? What’s it got to do with me?

How, and where do you start when you are asked to write something on mission,  my thoughts go to the challenges of a coming Kingdom and the changing of the  world around us, causing me to conclude  that mission has to have a focus towards  the Ultimate Goal of God,  i.e. “all things summed up in Christ”, “Christ filling all things”.

I was once asked by a well know teacher  “are you doing anything today that will continue when time is finished and Jesus returns?”,  “yes” I replied, he continued with a further question, “are you doing anything that you will not be doing after his return?”  My answer was “yes” his reply  “why?”   In others words keep your eye on the ultimate, in all you put our hand to.

I cannot read any scripture without realising that the Father and the  Holy Spirit have a preoccupation with the Christ.    Our work and involvement must therefore, have this same preoccupation, we must be fully occupied with Christ, other wise the task ahead will overwhelm us and we will lose our way.   As a matter of fact the entire occupation of the heavens is Christ.    It is so easy for us to focus and emphasise one particular spiritual truth, value, virtue, gift, or good work and yet miss Christ, Christ who is the embodiment and incarnation of all these things.

All mission and commission looses its way and purpose without holding on to the ultimate of goal of God.

I was recently provoked by the following question “why was I born in the West, with all  the privileges of the culture  I find myself in?”   As I pondered on this question my first thoughts were ones of a great gratitude for all I have been given and entrusted with.  Then, I compared my lot with the 2/3rd of the world around me and began to ask why, why God was I born here?   As I considered the privileges we are surrounded by I was amazed at what God has made available to us.  The privilege of freedom, the privilege of finance, even in a world that is in the middle of recession we have so much compared to those that live on less than a $1 a day.

I cannot depart far from the scripture story that started with the debate for position amongst the young men and women that followed the Christ,  debating who would get the best seat in the house.     While this debate went on Jesus told them of a landowner who distributed money to each of his servants, for them  to invest /steward the entrustment in-order that on his return a profit would be seen.   This profit in turn would open up  further entrustment opportunities, not of finance but of city rulership – those who are faithful with little becoming  rulers of much.

This narrative deals with a number of thought patterns, for example the disciples idea of Kingdom coming NOW.  The immediate and sudden NOW, putting Jesus on the throne NOW.  The story is however a story of PROCESS, this being working with and stewarding our entrustment to bring about Gods’ full intent.   We are living in days when regardless how much or how little we have been given, we have to see this PROCESS OF STEWARDSHIP.  We must deal correctly with what we have been given in order to see the influence of God, and Christ filling all in all taking place, as we do, so we will be entrusted further.

So why were you and I born in the nation you were?  which ever nation that may be ,  we must  steward correctly that with which we have been entrusted, so that we might bring an end to poverty,  never mind how tight things are in the midst of recession, we still have a charge to steward the little and the much.

We have been positioned and entrusted with ability to

1          Redistribute – wealth, justice, liberty

2          To bring Christ into every sphere of life and society

3          To break poverty – and dependence for all

Poverty is not fundamentally the  lack of money, but it is the imprisonment into a dependence on others for liberty, finance and personal freedom.   I would like to eradicate ‘dead aid’, where money has simple been poured in time and time again with no sense of building creating only  future dependence.   I would like to  invest in people, and take away the cause of  dependency on some one else for resources. Through our kindness and giving of money  in some cases, often unknowingly, we have added to the poverty mindset and sustained  imprisonment.    We have given much, equipment, tractors, seeds, houses, computers, etc., when our hearts and emotions moved us.  What we failed to realise was that  when what ever we gave  broke down, needed  new tyres, parts or repairs the people once again became dependant on  another hand out – lets break poverty and take away dependency.   It is  not about ceasing giving, far from it, but it is about wisely entrusting to men and women, training in self sustainability and providing them with the mind-set of continuing long after the initial help.  This is long-term empowerment, this is our mission.   Giving people the ability to advance handing them the stewardship of their own advancement.

 After all the advancement of each person in a way that is Kingdom of God thinking will bring about heavens occupation “Christ filling all in all”

“How should we respond?”

“…Osama Dead – Censored Video Leakedon.fb.me   Osama is dead, watch this exclusive

CNN video which was censored by Obama Administration due to level of violence, a must watch. Leaked by Wikileaks…”

I had this sent to me on Facebook and refused to watch it, I am some times amazed at us, we who should “explain the Father” as Jesus did so John 1:18 (NASB) tells us, we humanity being the reflectors of the image of God, it begs the question does the world know more about the Father, creator God through my words actions and love?

Our news channels were filled with surprising news, is this the beginning of a confrontation or an end to a long-standing confrontation, giving us news of things that we were previously unaware of. I have a challenge for us today having watched the worldwide announcement on the death of a man, a man who many have longed to see the end of or the conclusion of a struggle.    Without doubt Osama Bin Laden has caused much fear and caused much damage during his lifetime. My writing is not however about this man, to elevate or put down I’m not here to pass judgment on him at this time, but more about the state of affairs in our world and the people we find around us.

It challenges us, especially those of us with faith, we are especially challenged in how should we respond?    Our screens have been filled with attacks in Libya in the name of liberation, the fight for liberty within Syria, African nations battle within its boundaries, with all we know that is going on in our world, how do we, with the faith respond to the problem of evil in our world. It seems as though we so easily join those who ignore evil until it hits us right between our eyes, but the question remains, how do we respond?

We have seen Celebrations surrounding the death of this man flooding in to the streets, the concerned conversations of retaliation in political corridors, the soul-searching comments and questions on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs like mine let alone the news.   The spiritual representatives uttering different view whether by the Archbishop of Canterbury or by the Dalai Lama, comments that conflict some times.   We see one nation flooding in celebration to the streets and another nation struggling and condemning the celebration of this death.

I note the number of Facebook and Twitter comments re-stating Martin Luther King Jr’s powerful quotation “I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.      Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.   Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.    Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

We can be fully aware of evil in its actions and movements and do nothing about it, governments can be fully aware of the axis of evil, Al-Qaeda, the forces that seem to undermine our world, terrorism and its operation and nobody moved to do anything, or wanted to know about it until the twin towers fell, or more lately our banking world collapsed.    Until it hit us face on.     We are certain that the factors and forces involved were moving and breathing before the disaster, and were even under surveillance but no-one wanted to take it too seriously until it was too late.

The challenges of this evil goes on and we are all fully aware of the problem that faces the developing world with chronic national debt and HIV threats to whole populations but nobody in the West wants to take it too seriously.  In the poorer countries of our world the challenge is in the conscious of all the poor who are being de-sensitized by being offered Pepsi and sweetness from the developed world who in turn are tapping into a huge market  for themselves, but adding  health problems due to excess sugar to the already chronic problems  of our world.   The banking challenge that we are still facing was there for everyone to see but nobody wanted to take it seriously until it was too late.   Today the changes, the implications it has brought about are still to be handled with the rise of the ‘BRICS’ nations and their perhaps rightful demand for change in the IMF, United Nations, it’s far from over, it was plain to see but it was just too late.

Let us not ignore changes and evil except when it hits us between the eyes; let us know how to respond.

How should we respond?

Today I have to admit I’m challenged, disappointed and stand emotionally wondering how should I react?     Do I, do we reacting in immature and dangerous ways, we Know that we can no longer be isolated and removed in our actions as our media immediately delivers the emotional explosions right in our living rooms, whether it’s a Libyan politician protesting after very so-called attempted on taking the life of his Presidents or whether it’s people flooding out onto the street celebrating the death of one man.

Our world that celebrates the killing, with joy the TV screens report in my living room, of a killer who celebrates killing I am not sure what to make of the life we live and times we breath in?  Is our world just out of control in our immaturity?

How should I respond?

Surely not by lashing out at something you simply know by media.  Is it a sign of strength to just tolerate human atrocities?  Surely neither of these is the way to build a stable model society. The appalling acts of his unprovoked horror and anger but we must avoid knee jerking reaction, unthinkingly, immature lashing out will get us nowhere and will get misunderstood otherwise we will divide people into acceptable and unacceptable people groups which again is immature.     Lashing out as those you perceive as being evil in the hope that we deal with the problem will certainly not solve anything for anyone

‘Evil’ is a four letter word that surely can only be dealt with by another four letter word ‘love’, but how do we love?     I don’t hold any particular answers at this time, I am sure that this will frustrate some, but I would say that we should find within ourselves a means for the love of God to be shared abroad for us not to ignore evil, not to lash out and react, but to be wise.      How can I display a better way of living with difference?      Rather than joining those we see as evil.

I hope you will consider how you and I can counter the quick spiral into evil and prevent the downward spiral of evil and violence from being ours too.      Remember the four letter word of God that the ‘love’ of God to be shed abroad and bring healing to the world in a small way, if we all play our part, it would be a big thing.    So what do you or who do you see as evil that the LOVE of God can be shown?

How should I/we respond?