We’re exploring the images of God in images. We’ll reflect on the metaphors God’s given us to understand who he is.
Have you ever walked into a room and felt like you’d stumbled into some kind of interpersonal storm? It’s almost like you can feel it in your bones. A sense of anxiety churns in your stomach. You look around trying to figure out what it is, but there doesn’t seem to be anything happening in the natural. Still, you know, something’s not right.
Whether you’re aware or not, you react; a slight tension in your shoulders, a shallowness in your breath, a hesitancy in your speech. You check the time and the door, wondering when you can leave.
I love setting up the house for a party as much as I love the party. Don’t get me wrong, I love music, food, conversation and, more than anything else, the joy of seeing and celebrating old friends and family members.
Still, I love the setting up. I love all the planning; the deciding what will bless people, the going out and buying, the cooking and the decorating. I love the quiet of the house when everything is ready.
We call these words encouragement, and so they are. Encouragement means literally; “the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.” It implies making someone strong. I think of the picture of Moses’ friends holding his arms up as the battle raged. Pure and powerful encouragement!
Right now, I’m guessing that you think this post is all about the importance of encouraging people. In a way, it is. Then again, it’s not.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult.” ~ Isaiah 60:1-5a
Ours is an indestructible life. I would like to say that’s because we’re so good, so smart, so committed to the one who is truth. But if I that, I’d be lying. The reality is, we’re a messy group. Sometimes we love astonishingly well. Sometimes, we miss God’s invitation completely.
I’ll not enumerate the many ways the church fails to reflect the one who has not only saved us, but who dwells in our midst. And that’s the thing, anyway – ours is an indestructible life because God dwells in our midst, and only because God dwells in our midst.
I have a couple of friends who won’t talk to each other anymore. One is deep blue and the other deep red. Both are utterly committed to their positions and are completely convinced that those who disagree with them are flawed to the core. A friendship is broken – and not just any friendship. These were friends who once prayed and worshiped together, who encouraged one another through difficult seasons, who shared the one faith, one baptism, and one hope to which we are all called. Now, they can’t talk to each other.
How do we live our unity, our communion in Christ, in the context of a deeply polarized political climate?
A friend of mine is on her way to Iraq. Another is working a full time job and living in a refugee community in the United States. A third is caring for her married daughter and grandchildren while their husband/father is deployed overseas.
Each one of us is invited into specific good works, a ministry or collection of services that God, himself has created for us. Our joy and satisfaction, not to mention our success, is found in fulfilling that for which we were created in each season of our lives.
Each individual is God created, unique and, beneath the detritus of the world, complete. Additionally, each person carries within them a God created purpose in his created-world.
God invites each of us to claim and live faithfully our identity and purpose. His Spirit moves within us constantly, purifying us and inviting us to share in his ministry to others. The world, the enemy and many of our reactions to both constantly falsify our identity and obfuscate our purposes. If we are wise, strong and committed, we fight the good fight.
We’re not meant to fight alone.
I can’t grasp everything about God by reading the Book all by myself. I need to see him in the world. And to do that, I need conversation. When I listen and share, I think, grow and learn.