How on Earth Does One Live Fearlessly?

August 26th, 2013 by

I believe this is a word for all would be followers of our Savior.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
(Luke 12.32-34)

What I heard from this passage was: BE FEARLESS – BE GIVEN – BE BELOVED

And then I wondered: How on earth does one live fearlessly?
What on earth does it mean to be the given and to whom?
And who on earth are the beloved and how do they live?

“Do not be afraid, little flock…”

Jesus is adamant.  Elsewhere he says, “Do not be anxious,” or “Do not worry,” and ”Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  It seems he means it, don’t be fearful!

Today’s world is filled with fear, anxiety, and worry. It’s everywhere. It’s legend. You wonder would Jesus have said the same things if he lived in our world in our day?

But then, he was the only person to walk this earth with the weight of the world actually on his shoulders. So I suppose if he tells us not to live in fear we really can pay attention.

So what’s the antidote for fear?   How do we begin to live lives that are fearless? I think it begins with trust. In John fourteen we read, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”  So where is our trust level?

Do we trust the person who is telling us to not be afraid?  Do we trust him to be who he says he is and have done what he says is accomplished?

Do we really believe that the fullness of deity was pleased to dwell in him?
That he is the image of the invisible God, God with a face,
that he is for real the firstborn of all creation,
that in him all things really move and have their being,
that all things were actually created for him and by him,
that he is indeed the first and the last word about every single soul’s destiny,
that he does in fact have the whole world in his hands.
Do we trust him to be who he says he is?

And do we really believe, trust, that he’s accomplished all that we say he did?
That hell has been defeated,
that death’s victory has been stolen,
that heavens gates have been opened to us,
that our salvation has been procured,
that now absolutely nothing can separate from his love,
that he has made us children of light, and
that we are citizens of a kingdom that cannot be shaken?

Trust is a gift we give to God.
“ Trust is our gift back to God, and he finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for love of it.”  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, page 3.)

… for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Do we then trust that it has indeed pleased the father to give us the kingdom?  What have we done to earn his pleasure?  Not a thing!
Is it only facile optimism that says,  “God loves me as I am and not as I should be?
That he loves me in the morning sun and in the evening rain,
when I pass and when I fail,
in fidelity and in infidelity,
when I’m good and when I’m not?
How firmly do I embrace the truth that God knit me together and my mother’s womb, made a plan for my life before my parents ever conceived me, had a dream of his own for my life in this world? — For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.(Ephesians 2.10) Could it be true?

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased.”

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,1 John 4.18
Do we really buy that the father is pleased with us not because of anything we do but because of who we are in his sight as his creation, and that his perfect love will drive out all fear?

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Our Abba is a giving God. It says he has given us the kingdom. We have neither earned nor learned it.  It is out of God’s generosity alone that we are citizens of the kingdom.

And of course it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave…” you know the rest.

When we experience God’s generosity our response is one of being generous. It’s like the extravagant love shown by the woman at Jesus feet. She expressed extravagant love to Jesus because she had experienced extravagant love from Jesus. We love because he first loved. We give because he first gave.

The world readily recognizes the value of giving. Don’t all great storylines, the best movies, have to do with someone giving of himself or herself for another?  And indeed, the greatest story ever told has to do with this theme!

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give to the poor.

So by our nature of being in Christ we are a generous people. But it’s more than that. We are to become the given of God. In Henri Nouwen’s little book called THE LIFE OF THE BELOVED, he describes the life of a follower of Jesus being comprised of four movements: we are taken; blessed; broken; and given.  Sound like the movements in the Eucharistic prayer we pray each Sunday?  It is.  I think it is important to see that we are given in our being taken i.e. our choseness, in our covenantal blessedness, and equally critical, in our brokenness.  It is in our brokenness that he enters in.

Ivan Sitka, our missionary in India and sometimes here, tells of a time when he was in the Delhi airport when a surreal phenomenon occurred. He said, “all of a sudden everything got spooky still.  You could hear a pin drop, and that never happens in the Delhi airport even when the president arrives.” When he looked around to see what might have caused this strange stillness he saw Mother Teresa exiting a jet way. Even the world recognizes people that are given by God.  Was the stillness the presence of God journeying with Mother Teresa?  Or did he call for the quiet, and say, see my servant?

We are first of all given to God.  Nuns consider themselves given in marriage to Jesus, as many of us are given to one another in marriage.  In a broader sense then, the church is described as the bride of Christ in scripture.  We are given to Christ.  So it is safe to say that as followers, disciples of Jesus, we are not just givers, but are given to God.  God in turn gives us, as he did his first born, to the world to serve in his name.

That means the idolatrous trinity of me, myself, and I, has to be destroyed. Seriously, don’t we tend to make 99% of our decisions based upon what’s convenient, what feels right, or better yet, what’s in it for me?  Instead of asking God, what am I to do and where am I to go?  Send me.

So, now, the true Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must come to life in our lives.

We are the given of God, but remember, we are given as directed by our Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus said things like:

…The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
…Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.
…“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

So as he says in the following verses of Luke twelve, we need to be ever ready, alert to Abba’s will.  That’s how the beloved of God live;
alert to,
ready to respond,
focused on,
invested in, and
intentional about,
the kingdom of God — which is defined in the Lord’s prayer as that state of affairs where his will is done on earth as in heaven. We make it our intention to invest wholeheartedly in his kingdom realizing it is often counterintuitive and countercultural. It operates according to heaven’s values, what God sees as important.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The life of the beloved is living fearlessly, and as one who is given first to God then to the world in his name. It is being ever alert, watchful, moment-to-moment, for the will of the Father. In knowing we are loved and living fearlessly we invest all our marbles in the kingdom of God because we realize this is the only kingdom that doesn’t wear out, go up or down, rise and fall with whim of the tides of time.

But what an incredible life this is!  It is what Jesus intends for those who choose to follow. This is how the beloved of God are to live.

Blessings,
Carl+

 

 

 

 

 

God Is Looking for Worshipers – This Means You

August 1st, 2013 by

 June 28, 2013 Friday Epistle from Sara Buffington, Worship Leader – God is Looking for Worshipers. And this means you. When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh with a message. “This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Ex 8:1) It was a message worth repeating–it is recorded six times between chapters 8 and 10. God was, and is, calling His people to worship. So what does it mean, exactly, to worship? Gerrit Gustafson, author of The Adventure of  Worship, defines worship this way: Worship is the act and attitude of wholeheartedly giving yourself to God–spirit, soul, mind, and body.

 worship web small

 

If you participated in last fall’s churchwide study on the Jesus Creed, this may ring some bells.  We said this every week.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

This doesn’t just mean you “get into the music” on Sunday.  Worship includes singing, but it certainly is not limited by it.  Worship is a life of sacrifice.  When you love God with every ounce of your being, you don’t have anything left for yourself.  You give yourself to God–and you trust yourself to Him.  

Last Sunday we sang these words, first one half of the congregation, then the other.  “The cry of my heart is to bring you praise from the inside out.”

God is looking for worshipers.  You were made for it.  It is your natural eternal occupation.  Just read Revelation 19: 1.

Then I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!”

But that’s then, you may say, not now.  This is a time for nice songs and a comfortable life where God doesn’t ask that much of us but gives us what we ask for.  But God has called us out of Egypt today to worship Him!  Let’s join the holy roar of heaven right now and fulfill the calling that has been on us since the moment God created us.

Sara

 

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