Thursday, September 15, 2011


Oh how sweet it is to be “home!” For days I’ve been experiencing many “simple things,” as if for the first time. It seems that I can’t inhale the refreshing air deeply enough into my pollution-filled lungs! I’m captivated by the beauty of all the trees and wild flowers around our twenty acres! I could sit for hours and listen to the multitude of birds singing! The taste of a big, juicy, grilled hamburger is delectable! The peace and quiet of our little country home is like music to my over-stimulated ears and mind! And… is so nice to spend some time alone! Yet, in many ways, I miss the Philippines.

I’ve become more aware that in the “western world” almost all of us have so much more fresh food, pure water, material possessions and space than we could ever truly need. Striving to be financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually independent, westerners frantically go hither and yon in order to keep up with its culture’s expectations of a “successful” family life. Even within the Christian circle, the underlying attitude is, “I don’t really need God. I can take care of myself. Thank you very much!” This earthly kingdom development shouldn’t come as a surprise, however. After all, independence was a primary founding principle of America.

In the Philippines, it isn’t uncommon to find hundreds of families packed like sardines in squatter areas along the river. The water reeks with human and animal waste. The homes are tiny, one-room shanties made from scavenged “building supplies” with the outside wall of one often being the inside wall of another! The majority of people are not even sure where the next meal is going to come from. There are blessings, however, to living under such stark conditions! Unlike those who are more westernized, I’ve noticed that the members of these communities are typically very aware of how desperately they need one another and their Creator!

We must realize that the Kingdom of God is not built upon self-reliance! Our Creator has dwelt in perfect unity with His Son since before the creation of this universe. In declaring that, “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), God announced that He created humanity “in His image” for the revelation of this intimate relationship. Just prior to His ultimate sacrifice, Jesus prayed for the joining together of His people that would demonstrate, throughout the entire universe, the kind of unity which He enjoyed with His Father (John 17:21-22)!

“God is glorified when He is properly reflected;
by dwelling in unity,
we rightly image our communal Maker.”

- unknown author

The testimony of the early church demonstrates that community was the natural result of the Spirit’s influence upon God’s people (Acts 2:42-47). The intimacy which developed among the believing communities was a result of the deep awareness of their need for one another.

In our unwillingness to set aside our daily activities, many of which have little if any eternal value, in order to live out this calling, are we not being disobedient to our Lord? Obedience to this calling of unity (Eph 4:3) requires that the citizens of God’s Kingdom be deeply involved in the lives of one another! Rather than meeting weekly for an hour or occasionally visiting in one another’s homes, we must be engaged in a battle for deep and abiding relationships within the body! Are we truly willing to die to self in order to live this out?

"Among the plastic saints of our times,
Jesus has to do all the dying,
and all we want to hear is another sermon about his dying."
- A.W. Tozer (emphasis mine)

However, according to God’s Word, “You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires,” [Gal. 5:24, Jer]!

The cross is a symbol of the necessity of death. When the bible says that Jesus died, it was all of him who died, not just the weaker parts. All. There wasn’t a golden nugget of goodness that was protected and preserved from death. Even his righteousness died. Death is total.

This means that we are all invited to this total denial of self. At the root of our beings, the core of our minds, is this constant never-ending drive to protect the self which fuels all that we think and do. Until we recognize this and allow the cross entry into even the basest elements of our selves, into our homes where we are most comfortable, secure and desiring, we will never know freedom and the beauty and power of a resurrected life.
– David Hayward

“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remake you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed” [Romans 12:1-2, Phi]!


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