Everyone gets 100. Now help each other live it.
It is super clear that the Church, His ekklesia, is not to be a “Happy Camp” where everyone makes their decisions based on what they are used to or most comfortable with, rather than what is spiritually best. How dumb would it be to not have dinner with Paul, John, and Peter because I’m more comfortable with Anthony?! Duh.
If Jesus is 100, our goal walking into a room is that everyone should leave that room having moved closer to Jesus’ Character and Wisdom and Stature (Eph.4:11-17, etc...) “100” while still enjoying the “having put on Christ” “clothed with Christ” Salvation “100” of Christ. We have the 100, now abiding in the Vine we help each other LIVE the 100 call of His fruitfulness. (Heb.3:12-14, Heb.10:23-25, Galatians 4:19, Colossians 1:28, Hebrews 5:12, Revelation 1:6)
It’s not about the number of people in a city, it is purely and totally about whether we enter every room desiring to move people from 40 to 41, or 20 to 21, or 75 to 76. That’s the difference. But Church, His ekklesia, is not a happy camp where we don’t even care about such things. We are in a war zone and comfort is not our goal, friendships are not our goal, and being included or respected or liked are not our goals.
“All military disasters can be explained in two words: too late.” (General Douglas MacArthur)
Too late caring, too late discerning, too late asking, too late taking personal responsibility, too late garnering courage, too late intervening. It’s how people you love will die, whether children or spouses or neighbors or brothers and sisters, spiritual or biological.
Unless…. you’re not.
Are You a Priest or a Spectator?
And let’s never confuse busy-ness, participation, and activity with being a proactive Priest.
When you walk into a room, you are not walking into a tiny piece of utopia, so... “Let your hair down, you know, kick your feet back and just enjoy the evening, having meals with the same people, three times out of four, night after night, just enjoy.”
No, you’re there with a bunch of people who are not like Jesus, not the 100. You might ask, “What do you mean? I thought this is the Church of God, the pillar...”
Yeah, yeah it is, that’s true. But, Jesus is the 100. How many people do you know that are 100? Zero. “Wow, you mean there’s Work to do in that room? They’re not 100?”
Guess what, some of those people are still 20 after a very long time. There might be some 40’s and 60’s. If there is a 70 I’d be shocked. There are probably no 80’s, none, ever.
So, what are you going to do about that? Are you a priest or are you a spectator?
I don’t know what your number is, you don’t even need to know what your number is. It doesn’t matter, because your goal when you walk into a room full of people, or pick up a phone, or send out a text message, or whatever you do, even while you’re at work, who you call and what you think about and pray about, your goal is that person A moves from 26 to 27 before you leave the room. And person B moves from 42 to 43 before you leave the room (or at least they are moving that way). That’s your goal.
Can you do that? I don’t know. Should you care and try? Absolutely! And if you’re not caring and trying, you’re not going to grow either. And if a person is moving backward instead of forward because they’re not moving forward, shame on all of you. That’s the end of anything God can anoint—when anybody is moving backward and nobody cares or notices.
So, there’s no such thing as utopia. It’s all the garden of God, and it all needs to be cultivated. And that’s our job when we walk into a room. We don’t want to be advice givers and advice takers. But we want to be a body of believers that love each other and everybody is a priest and everybody is participating and everybody is helping, everybody has a say.
THAT is practical Christianity defined. Anything short of that in me or anyone who wears His Name is a bad game... a delusion... dangerous, harmful, and destructive... regardless of what anyone claims or hides behind.
Jesus Is a Priest
We know when Jesus was baptized, he did not need His sins forgiven. So what DID change the day He was baptized?
And shouldn’t “the second change” be just as true for us as “the first” component (forgiveness of sins) is for us—the day WE are baptized? :)
He was FILLED with the Holy Spirit.
Did anything change on the outside of his life at that moment to go along with that change on the inside?
He launched immediately into being a priest of God instead of a nice guy who knew a lot of stuff. We’re not afraid of stepping up and stepping out as long as we are wise and patient and loving—when we help others get “from 40 to 41” out of 100. The kingdom of priests. “I am not smart enough, I’m not spiritual enough, I’m not old enough” are not valid thoughts :-)
“The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has chosen me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners, to announce the year when the Lord will show his favor...” Isaiah 61:1-2 NET
See To It: Find a Resolution to the Cringe
Sometimes, when I interact with another person, they might say or do something (out of the overflow of the heart...) that internally causes me to cringe a bit. It may be something that seems pretty small. If I don’t ask the question and lovingly probe (right then is sometimes the BEST time) when I get the smallest hints or glimpses of unChristlike actions, attitudes, or priorities, then I may not get another opportunity until it is way too late. It is too late when even more obvious evidence appears. Those “hints and glimpses” are usually all we get. Those moments are the reasons we purposely intersect our lives on a daily basis... to have those windows exposed in ourselves and to look into those windows in others. Those are the moments we can effect genuine change, the crucial forks in the road where someone is starting to drift onto a path of sin and regret, or where they are exposing something that has needed to change for a long time.
What the apostle John said about NOT everything leading to death is correct. There are times when watching and praying are in order. But don’t hide behind that because you don’t have the courage—that is to say, you don’t have the LOVE—to probe... to find satisfaction for the spiritual cringe you felt with that person. Do not grow weary in well doing. There is always Work to do... watch, pray, probe, pray some more, watch some more, probe again. You and I must find a resolution to the cringe, an answer to the things that don’t add up. Love demands it. Anything less is just being a playbaby and treating His Kingdom “like a pastime.”
Side note: Sometimes the cringe I feel may be my own flesh, and that too demands my full attention to identify and change.
Make Today Count
In thinking about everything being shared recently, as well as being aware of some folks that have been lukewarm at best, I wanted to solidify some thoughts yesterday in that same vein, for myself and others:
How can a person appear spiritual and yet be spiritually wasting away?
In the late ’80s, I spent too much time playing Super Mario Bros. It is a classic left-to-right runner game with lots of sights and sounds and perils. But there were two things that actually mattered… collecting coins (more coins equals more lives) and defeating the dragon at the end of the game. Collecting coins, with the accompanying “BLING!” sound effect was the one thing you needed to actually do in the middle of all the other activities. Collecting coins counts.
What “counts” from Heaven’s Perspective?
“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” -Galatians 5:6b. Bling!
That means that everything else does NOT count... at least in regard to choices during “the life I now live in the flesh.” Faith expressing itself through love can make even the most mundane thing count. Without faith-filled love, even the most seemingly “spiritual” thing is worthless chaff.
There is a lot of external Christian-like activity that actually doesn’t produce anything that “counts.” Spending an evening with other believers eating dinner and listening to encouraging teaching can literally accomplish nothing (which actually counts as loss) unless a person makes active choices to express faith through love. Being touched by a teaching or meaningful movie doesn’t mean a thing until the threshold of repentance, obedience, and change is crossed. +1 change, growth, and love alone move the needle in the Heavenlies. That happens when the battlefront in the war between the Spirit and the flesh is PRESSED, and the enemy loses even the tiniest fraction of ground. Bling!
For each person, that is either happening or it isn’t. Gaining or losing. Holding a “position” is an illusion. At the end of each day, ask yourself, “Did today count? Did I work today to expand the border of Jesus’ Kingdom in myself and others?”
Only at the front line is where theory becomes real. Who wouldn’t want to have a close, living, active communion with God? The blessing of such a life, what could compare? Yet why do so few live there? Because it ONLY exists at this confluence of life and death, where the brinksmen are forcing the advance with absolute obedience to their Commander. +1 +1 +1 is their one thing. Bling! Bling! Bling! In their own lives of course, but mostly FOR THE SAKE of seeing ground gained in believers and unbelievers around them.
Jesus led the way in this. He truly is Holy, Holy, Holy... Other, Other, Other. And that is because His heart is “Others, others, others.” Not in some humanistic way. But His love, real love (“it doesn’t matter what happens to me”) is obsessed with helping OTHERS change and grow into His likeness... +1.
“For them, I set myself aside as holy, so that they too may be truly set apart.” John 17:19
“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also **interceding for us.**” Romans 8:34b
He is working hard for us! Communion is living “in step” with Him, walking in Agreement with Him in this +1 Endeavor.
Where there is disobedience, whether willful or just out of laziness, communion breaks down.
“Can two walk together, unless they are in agreement?” Amos 3:3
Actions that count, and Father’s expectation of our joyful obedience is not about “works.” Regardless of the covenant and Christ’s covering Righteousness, obedience has always been required to walk in Union with God. By His Spirit, He has given us everything we need to walk with Him. Let’s do THAT today! Bling!
+ Patient Little Crosses +
What do you THINK the “plus one” +1 LOOKS like? It’s a little CROSS! It’s going to HURT a little bit! Satan ALWAYS shrieks and convulses as he comes out. He goes into our lives pleasantly, but comes out HARD. Want the +1?
For our mess of Opportunities for the patient little crosses of +1, for ourselves and those we love and Help, “Vive la différence.”
“The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; *He fashions their hearts individually;* He considers all their works.” Psalm 33:13-15
Religiously Busy or N+1
I read Isaiah 58 this morning. Was thinking how Father was rebuking them for being religiously busy instead of actually having an N+1 effect on those around them. And although the passage rightfully references various forms of physical oppression and poverty they were ignoring, I think +1 can equally, if not more so, be applied to the spiritual counterparts. Below are some excerpts, though the whole chapter is worth reading.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of (spiritual) injustice and untie the cords of the (spiritual) yoke, to set the (spiritually) oppressed free and break every (spiritual) yoke? Is it not to share your (spiritual) food with the (spiritually) hungry and to provide the (spiritually) poor wanderer with (spiritual) shelter — when you see the (spiritually) naked, to (spiritually) clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the (spiritually) hungry and satisfy the needs of the (spiritually) oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath (a life of dependence and Faith) and from *doing as you please* on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by *not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,* then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”