Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

Retreats & Conferences

Retreat/In-House Conference Retreat 5:

Confused ideas of love grip us so that we’re often baffled about how to love the people we’re supposed to be close to. Even so, we can still recognize that God’s self-giving, genuine love is what we were created for and have been looking for all our lives. Drenching ourselves in this helps us let go of self-absorption and learn to simply reach out to the person in front of us in simple ways. Each session concludes by entering into a scene from the life of Christ and inviting Christ to speak to us today.

1. A Tour through the Building (Confused Ideas about Love)

Love does not mean oozing with sentimentality, always feeling close to people, or making people happy-as we commonly think. Instead, genuine, down-to-earth love resembles God’s personality: patient, kind, not rude or pushy and not easily irritated (really!). Practicing God’s presence and serving with secrecy help us move in this direction. (Meditation: Jesus healing a leper who refuses to keep it quiet.)

2. The Magnificent Architect (Letting God Love Me)

Most people believe that God is deeply disappointed with them-probably even annoyed. But nothing could be further from the truth. God created us humans to be with us and wants our company. God isn’t interested in bargaining with us, but wants us to know and be known personally by us. Worship and contemplation help us move in this direction. (Meditation: Jesus and Peter walking on the sea.)

3. Clear out the Clutter (Dying to Self)

Contrary to our tendency to self-improve our way to heaven, dying to self works better. But because love is not always convenient, self-absorption can keep the current of love from flowing. Dying to self (not having to have what I want) forms our character in Christ’s self-giving, open-handed love. Disciplines of abstinence help us to die daily: solitude, silence, fasting, frugality. (Meditation: Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, including his friend who handed him over to die.)

4. Getting Down to Work (Loving the Person in Front of Me)

If the truth be told, we mostly love people who meet our needs for fun, self-confidence and practical necessities. As we allow God to meet those needs, we learn to be people who fully look, listen and love. We can practice this by welcoming ‘strangers’ in our life-the lonely, the needy, the locked up inside, or people we’d otherwise overlook. (Meditation: Jesus’ full-orbed healing of the woman with the flow of blood.)


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