Living Truth

Yesterday I read an article about the agony of a couple in England who, for ten months, pursued a painful course of treatment for their five-year old son—believing all the while his condition was terminal. chemo But, . . . the diagnosis was wrong. Their son’s condition is not terminal! So, the treatments have been . . . an unnecessary agony which also delayed appropriate care for the child’s real condition. I think I understand something of their anger over the needless suffering. Yet, . . . their son’s situation parallels that of many Christians. I heard it again on the radio earlier this week—treating outward acts as the sin to be confessed, turned from, and guarded against . . . without ever addressing the real illness—disbelief of God’s words about being His child.

Do you believe what He says about you? Can you affirm His Truth, expressed in the words:

I am a . . . child of The King.

I am not talking theory, I’m talking Truth. Not what some call “positional truth”—something treated as if it were true despite appearances—but, rather, I am talking about something which is actually true. Thus, I bow before our loving Father God, our Papa in Heaven, and ask that as you read today He—by His Spirit—will enable you to receive what He says about you as actually, really, simply, . . . true.

God tells us repeatedly, through several writers of Scripture, that all who believe in Jesus as God’s provision for putting all things right are brought into His eternal family by new birth. Failure to believe we have actually been “born of God” results in our speaking and living as if sinful acts remain “natural” to us, as if we are beggars, as if a mind in the gutter should be expected. But those are lies! We are not “only human.” As those born of God we are to enjoy a life of wholeness, holiness, obedience, and selfless love—for, as His true children, we have become partakers of His divine nature. (II Peter 1:2-4)

You are probably familiar with the words of Jesus to Nicodemus recorded in John 3, that belief in Him results in being born again—being born a second time, born of the Spirit of God. God speaks similar words through Peter and John in their letters as well. Listen to Him:

. . . love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible .  . . (I Pet. 1:22, 23)

. . . Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called offspring of God, and such we are . . . (I John 3:1)

. . . Whoever has been born of God does not habitually sin . . . because he has been born of God. (I John 3:9)

It is easy to read these as mere words conveying some lofty ideal. But they are more than words, they reveal God’s Truth about you. As believers in Jesus, you and I have actually been born of God. You and I are each His child—born of His Spirit. And it is that Truth, that reality, that fact, which under-girds His call for our living whole and holy. Did you notice it? Our fervent love is to flow because we have been born from above; we can live free of habitual sin because we have been born of God.

Living whole and holy is enabled by His indwelling Spirit and the reality that you are God’s child. Just as these grape buds—which will mature over time grapebudsinto full-formed fruit of the vine—the Truth of who we already are will become increasingly evident as we mature in Christ. Thus, throughout the writings of the Apostles we are called to live consistent with who we are. What theologians call “sanctification” is not a process of learning to overcome our old nature, but rather the process of growing up as the born-ones of God we already are.

How tragically painful when our spiritual relatives (often with the “help” of well-intentioned “doctors”) treat the symptom as if it were the disease. Yet, if we fail to believe and live the reality of having been born of God, that is exactly what we do—we treat our acts of sin as if they are still natural to us—delaying our growth in wholeness, holiness, obedience, and selfless love.  Dear Ones, may we walk in Truth.

                  I am a dearly beloved, . . . blood bought,
. . . child of The King.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

 

 

Multifaceted Treasure

MultifacetedWonderOne of the great experiences God has granted me over the past 12 or 13 years is an appreciation for the depth and treasures within the many Christian “traditions.” Because many of these teachings or practices gave rise to some new “branch” on the Church tree, I had too long viewed them as reasons to divide; Christ has helped me see they are, rather, things to savor—particularly those which center on Him. With this—Father God’s Multifaceted Treasury—in view, I share with you some words of a dear friend, brother, and fellow-laborer in Christ’s field, included by him amid his expression of thanks for my last post on the body and blood of our Lord (I share it only with his permission). May God grant us all an appreciation for the richness of His Truth as observed throughout His Eternal Family:

“There was a common theme in my journey of appreciating what was then for me the remembrance, and  is now for me the Eucharist. I remember in seminary learning of Transubstantiation and thinking about John 6 in my Greek class contrary to my peers, and I remember braking those ‘crackers’ as an elder and thinking there is something that I am seeing through a glass darkly here…. Maybe that… they were just crackers… as in, He did not say, this is a symbol of my body, take eat…..

“This hunger continues in the Catholic faith where I met Christ in the Mass and now am nourished by the sacrament of the Eucharist. As He says this is my body, this is my blood, I am able to take in and feast as never before. In this sense it is Impossible to forget as it is impossible to forget to eat, to feed, to live and grow, in the life of faith working through love.  When the ‘remembrance’ was a mere symbol to me it was easier to forget, but my spirit was restless and unsettled that there was some greater purpose.”

As He shines through you, I encourage you to be feasting on Him. Always.

Don’t Forget to Remember!

Last Sunday I had one of those “Remember!” moments. The earliest ones that clearly come to mind happened when I was in high school when, as I was leaving the house for a good time with friends, my dad would say: “Remember who you are.” I’m sure there were more detailed reminders before this because, by my high school years, this phrase was a kind of verbal “shorthand” between us, by which he reminded me that I was a “representative” of the household, a visible manifestation of what it means to be part of his family, his son. Through the years Abba God has given me similar “shorthand queues” to not forget Whose I am. It happened again last week.

Our conversation over the past month or so about the reality of Papa’s love for us, our (near desperate) need to experience His love for us personally, and our responsive obedience had brought us to another essential point in our personal awareness—we are His. This is expressed in various ways in Scripture, such as the words of Solomon’s Song (chapter 2), converted to the more modern lyric as “I am my beloved’s, and He is mine, His banner over me is love.” But in the “me first” world in which we live, our thoughts are often corrupted—as evident by our speech: Let me check my schedule; well, at my church we . . ., how was your day? I know, I know: these are just expressions! But words are powerful in their influence, at times shaping the way we think and how we perceive life’s moments. It is possible for us to know something to be true, even be fully convinced (in contrast, perhaps, to believing it to be true), yet not behave in a way consistent with that truth. I’m not the only one who has done that, right? I know I’m not! This is one of those convicting points of life where a truth shared by Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz must be faced: “We don’t believe what we say we believe, we believe what we do.”

So, as of last Sunday, I had been thinking and praying—on and off for a week—about how to express the love-based truth: You are not your own, you have been bought with a price—the precious blood of Jesus. The words are fairly familiar to most of us, perhaps so familiar that even now you react with something like: “Yeah, yeah, I know that.” I know it too, but I don’t always live it and, thus, if I apply God’s criteria as expressed through Miller I come up short: If I don’t live it, I don’t really believe it (even if I “know” it). So, anyway, I’ve been thinking about this, ruminating on it, giving thought to how to express it and . . . walking (late) into a worship service I’m offered a little plastic cup half full of pale red liquid and a tiny, tiny, square cracker. It has been a long time since I Remembered Him with one of those little cups: For the past several years I have Remembered Him in procession, been offered “Christ’s Body, given for you.” which I received and dipped into a cup, extended with “Christ’s blood, shed for you.” (followed usually by my response, “Walk in New Life.”). Over those same years I have also invited wine and breadothers, many times, to lift their glass and Remember Him over a full meal, or with something baked from grain and a 4 ounce glass of dark reddish-purple juice as part of a meal. . . . But last Sunday I was standing there, holding that little cup and tiny cracker when, as the band played and choir sang a song I didn’t know, Papa reminded me of another day, years before, . . . so I wouldn’t forget to remember.

His reminder was simple, yet profoundly significant for me. He simply said, put a drop on your right ear. I don’t know if this is because in my reading the events of Aaron’s anointing were not that many weeks ago, or whether something else which triggered the memory of a time I was privileged to regularly lead others in Remembering Him and (at least one time I faintly recall) invited each one to place a touch of the Remembrance on their right ear and right thumb, or whether this was simply His way of saying—Let Me remind you, before you remind others. Having often encouraged folks to listen, then do what Papa is saying, I did what He told me to do. I touched my finger into the pale red Remembrance and touched that drop to my right ear lobe. “You are Mine. You are not your own. You have been bought with a price, My precious blood. . . . Because I love you that much.”

Father God, Abba, Papa, . . . Dad. Remind us regularly please, in ways especially meaningful to each of us personally, that we are indeed a dearly beloved, blood bought, child of The King.
Remind us, so we won’t forget to remember.

Thank You Jesus.

John