Tag Archives: fellowship

Life Together

weekly theme #28*

week containing the seventh Sunday of Easter

God designed us to live in harmony.  I am to be in harmony with him, others, creation, and myself.  Becoming who God wants me to be is not an individual affair.  The fourth chapter of Ephesians has a lot to say about God’s gifts to the church, and verse thirteen says we become mature, full-grown, and measuring up to the full stature of Christ through using those gifts in unity for the good of the church.  I am both an individual and a member of the community, the Bride of Christ.  I need to embrace both and find comfort in both – even though there can be pain in both.

I picture Paul as a tough, perhaps gruff, young man.  His letters contain some fierce words and scathing rebukes, but I think he mellowed as he aged.  Not that he lost his passion or standards, but Paul’s spirit softened and his love flowed more easily and with more clarity.  The book of Philemon witnesses to that idea.  I hope I mellow as well, for the good of unity.

How well I love my Christian family members is a strong indication of how I love God.  Paul offers an example of how the Christian family should sacrifice for each other in the sixth chapter of first Corinthians.  He proposes that it is better to forgive another Christian who has wronged me than to make the “family disagreement” a matter of public record.  If a member of my Christian family wrongs me, I have the opportunity to respond like Jesus rather than like the world.  What do I value so much that would make me choose being unforgiving rather than being like Christ?

My ill-delivered zeal for unity among Jesus’ disciples has actually caused division.  The change I long for in the Body of Christ, from independence to inter-dependence, will not take place through words that condemn but words that compel.  Moreover, my actions must show unity and love.  No matter how mature I am in my Christian life, I can have confidence that my every attitude, act, and belief is less than perfect.  If I convince myself differently, it hinders further maturity and growth.  Rather than clutching to my imperfections, I need to cultivate the ability to change my mind, behavior, and attitude when it is clearly God’s will for me to do so.  (adapted from Liberation of Life by Harvey & Lois Seifert)

Paul said we need each other, but the breadth of his meaning is greater than I first thought.  Romans 12:5b says, “And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.”  I belong to other believers, and I need all of them.  No member of the body is optional; they are all mission critical.  I don’t just need the Rock-Star members; I need the humble, meek, quiet members, too.  In fact, God does not long for Rock-Star Christians to give a performance as much as he longs for his Bride to be ready for the wedding.

A thought about balance is a fitting close to this week’s long-winded piece.  In this unity, there is a place for solitude.  Without times of solitude with the Lord, unity can begin to feel clingy, overwhelming, and even parasitic.  I can know unity is always there even when I am not in the midst of it.  Solitude increases my love for unity.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The LORD Is With Us

weekly theme #24*

week containing the third Sunday of Easter

I take God for granted, and that has delayed the growth of our relationship.  Initially God reached out to me and drew me into his love.  He made the effort to reach me, and now it’s time for me to make the effort to reach for him.  The concept runs both ways, the Lord is with me and I must be with him.

I heard that the command most repeated by God is to not fear, and whether that’s true or not, the Bible records many occasions when the Lord spoke that principle to people.  He usually gave one or more reasons not to fear, the primary reason being the fact that he was with them.  My confidence cannot be primarily in other people, experiences, money, power, or any other thing.  All other assurances are secondary to the Lord’s presence with me.

This week’s devotional has an opening prayer to start each day’s time with Father, and it contains a phrase that kind of troubles me.  “Come now and reveal your presence to me.”  It gives me a problem because I think he already reveals himself daily if I will only open myself to sense him.  He reveals himself in nature, people, song, the Bible, communion (Eucharist), and more.  God does not fail to reveal; I fail to perceive.  He is always with me, but I neglect him.

Christians in the USA, and that includes me, are not good models at taking time to fellowship with God.  Personally, I seem so focused on meeting with him during the morning but I fail so miserably at continual conversation with him throughout the day.  Jesus said that the way to eternal life was to know him, and I don’t think he used “know” as meaning only an intellectual knowledge, something that could be acquired second-hand.  He wants me to know him personally, as he is, not as I think he should be or want him to be.  That requires me to be with him.

All creation, for all time, is in his hand, and still he knows who I am!  The angels fall to their faces to worship him, and still he longs for my love and cooperation.  Responding to him in faith and love is the best I can give him; it is what he wants.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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