“Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tender mercy and compassion” (Phil 2:1)
THIS is the way I should start every day, start every deed — by being encouraged that Christ is in me. I have, as it says in Colossians 1:27, “the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you.” I have Christ IN me. I am not alone. He loves me unconditionally. He sticks to me like glue. I can talk to him and he hears and cares.
I can fellowship with the Spirit. There is no time when I cannot pray and the Spirit is there with me, giving me wisdom and consolation. There is no time when my heart cannot soar because the Spirit rejoices in the wonders of God.
I need this kind of encouragement right now. It was great to come out of winter and watch nature wake up, with everything beginning to grow and bloom, and to feel myself come alive as well as I watched God work. Now, in the middle of summer, I feel like God’s work is all around me, his garden has grown, but I am such an ineffectual gardener. I want everything to flourish, but all I can do is go around and dribble a little water here and there. There’s not enough of me to go around.
Luckily, it is God’s garden, not my own. And I need to trust that just as he has sent deluges of rain to make my yard grow exponentially, he is growing his church as well. Left to myself, I can view it like the little seeds from Women’s Day I planted. They came up with thin spindly stalks, and when I tried to transplant them into the ground, they withered up and crumpled. I have such a great fear that this is going to happen with people I love, unless I do something about it.
I think God’s rain is falling on us, and we don’t even realize it. Being grateful nourishes us. It helps us to see and acknowledge all of the wonderful things God is doing in our lives. When we were praying together yesterday in our leaders’ group, Jake spent some time thanking God for different things that had happened. It really struck me that this is how Jake prays — he sees so many things that are going right, so many ways God is working, and he is so encouraged by all of that. I want to become like this.
Jake talked yesterday about what helps people mature. First he said that the interaction of people using their talents and strengths helps people mature. Then he said we need to speak the truth in love. I remember John Louie giving a talk to the leaders at the SEC about the same thing. He said that the health of a church is based on how well it resolves conflict and people are able to speak directly to one another.
So what can I do? I can start speaking the truth in love more. It is not doing anyone any favors if I am too circumspect, and it isn’t helping God either. I need to remember that I am doing others a disfavor if I don’t tell them what will help them.
And as I was praying this morning, I realized that what God needs as my part in the equation is for me to communicate two things: love and Lordship. This needs to be communicated to Christians and non-Christians. There are many misunderstandings about God and Christianity. If I can make these things clear to others, God’s work can be done much more effectively.
Lordship means that people really live out the greatest commandment: loving God with their heart, soul, strength and mind. Jesus came to usher in a kingdom. He is the king, and we need to treat him as such.
Lordship also means getting serious about sin. We are to, “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:22-24)
This morning I was praying for my enemies, the terrorists who want to kill others. Many of them are Muslims. In a way, they understand Lordship. They make everything about serving God. But they need to understand the love that is defined by grace. This is a completely foreign concept to them, but if they understood it, the whole world would change for the better.
Here in the US, everyone thinks they know about God’s love. We’re all familiar with John 3:16. But people will never really understand love if they don’t understand that the Bible says they are a sinner, and as such, an object of God’s wrath. That they are saved, that Jesus gave every drop of blood for them at the point when they were most despicable, THAT is the most amazing love. It isn’t just having a nice fuzzy feeling for people. It is a divine thing of giving to those who seem unlovable.
How can I start my day without love? Without it, as it says in I Cor 13, I am only a clanging cymbal. Without it, anything I do will be useless, good for nothing. It must be behind everything I do, and woven into every action. And I can’t just manufacture it, it has to come from my constant realization of how much I am loved, and that I have love deep in my soul — Christ and the Spirit dwelling in me.
How can I live my day without Lordship? His will is good, pleasing and perfect. My will is like the scribblings of a child.
Father, may I please be able to communicate these things to others.