1Co 12:26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (ESVST)
I wasn’t a popular kid in school. I didn’t have a bunch of friends and at times none at all. When I did have a friend, especially a girlfriend, I was clingy and possessive and annoying. When you feel dry and parched you drink a lot. Alone is what I most remember. I blamed myself and still do on some level. I can say it doesn’t bother me but it does. Still the thought of being the center of attention isn’t any better. I experienced that a few times and it brings out the worst in me. It feels like a performance. Getting a laugh or saying the right thing becomes the measure of the moment. That ain’t life but neither is being alone. There is something about me that needs desperately to find the deeper stuff. I am actually not very good at the small talk and complaining and comparing sports scores and all that “normal” chatter. I want the deepest connection conversations. I want to know the real person and have them know me. Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe small talk and politics and hairstyles are all there is. Maybe there is a connection to be made in marshmallows and s’mores. Those experiences can be quite profound. Maybe my serious intensity to go deeper is frightening. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe deep is calling to deep.
We all know rejection. We all know what it means to loose a loved one or breakup with a girlfriend or be laughed at by someone we had a crush on or be singled out by a mean teacher who enjoys belittling children as a false sense of authority. We all know a bully. We all have been embarrassed. We have all been shamed and ridiculed. Every person on planet earth has been a child desperate for the embrace of a mother and a rescue of a father. These are implicit in our growing and inseparable from the fallen nature of mankind. But what if those experiences are tied to something bigger than us? What if when we feel the deep hurt of rejection we are sharing in the cross? What if the despair that leads us to the point of dreading our own birth is the death we share on the cross? What if that deepest connection between all of us is Jesus?
In this series of posts all the way back to “No separation at all no way no how” we have been exploring what it looks like when we know the truth of the Gospel….God with us. When we know that God is in us and within us and has always been the life-giving Spirit that keeps us breathing even before He walked the Earth as a God-man called Jesus…….yeah when we can “see” that truth, what does it look like for us now?
Most of us have grown up in or been exposed to western Christian (and others) religion. We’ve seen the destructive and divisive outcome of teaching the mythology of separation from God. We’ve seen what happens to people who really really need Jesus in their lives but won’t dare surrender to His saving love because of what religion has done to them. We’ve seen how people become projects and the next “soul that was saved” and “the next person to say the prayer” like aircraft painted on the side of WWII airplanes. We have seen people run from churches and the hypocrisy and business structures and impersonal programs and so much more. We have seen people hiding in the bushes afraid of being rejected yet again by people who claim to represent God. Instead we humans, in the name of Jesus, have frightened people away from Jesus because of a fictional g.o.d. that we cling to out of our own fear.
This is exactly what Jesus came to set us free from. It is time we see the truth and become IT….Love.
Check out our opening verse in the Mirror Bible with Francois’ comments:
1 Cor 12:26 It is impossible for one part of the body to suffer injury without the rest of the body being immediately alerted to it; the pain of the one is the pain of all. In the same way the complete person is honored, not just the fingers that skillfully play the harp. Everyone is equally included in the same joy. (This parallel explains perfectly mankind’s inclusion in the horror of Christ’s death and the glory of his resurrection; one has died for all, therefore all died! [2 Cor 5: 14-17] Mirror Bible)
This is how we know His suffering. This is how we participate in the cross. This is how we die with Him. This is how we know others are connected to the same truth and experiences.
You might think I have completely left the reservation and have jumped into some cultish concept born out of some new age Kumbaya club. No I haven’t but they thought the same thing about Jesus. He came to set us free from religion and hate and anger and division and judgment and exclusion and revenge and violence and our fallen way of thinking. He revealed to us the Kingdom of Heaven that has always been with us and in us. He revealed what it looks like to live as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. In the center of the Kingdom is the King and He is Love. His name Immanuel means He is with us and in us and around us. We are the ones who didn’t see it. We are the ones that must change the way we think and leave our mythologies and fallen-human wisdom behind to embrace Love Himself.
Come on, you know it deep in your bones. We were meant to love each other not reject each other. Instead of changing our minds to agree with our original created intent and nature we rejected God Himself to death. In the depths of that despair, that we share in, that we have experienced each and every one of us on some level, in the darkest scariest most alone places, we are connected with the Love that created all things. That is what sets us free to love others. We all share in the same origins. We can “know the despair” and “rejoice in the freedom.”
We were once lost and enslaved to a way of thinking that had us hiding from a g.o.d. that wasn’t real. We were so sure that g.o.d. was all there was and we had to please the myth to have any chance of getting out of a hell that we made up in our own minds. It is crazy really when you see it from this side. In the resurrection Jesus shows us that He loves us even when we kill Him in our worst possible moment. He comes out of the tomb still in love with His kids. How can that not change a person?
I use this verse in Corinthians to make a point. Paul is in the middle of a discussion about how we are all so connected to each other including Jesus because He is in the middle of all of us. Our identity is in our union with Jesus and our connection to one another. Yes we live in a grace-gifted reality where our individual gifts are used for the benefit of each other. It isn’t some mystery that comes with crystal balls and magic wands. It is a greater reality of the spirit that we just don’t understand in this reality. (For the people of this time, operating in the Spirit meant operating in a more solid, glorious, real, reality. The Spirit was the predecessor or origins of their present reality. To operate in the Spirit meant to operate as they were intended. It wasn’t the stuff of “magic” but the stuff that is bigger than the stuff.)
Paul is telling them to not get distracted by all the “supernatural” gifts at the expense of our connection to one another in love. He is telling them, and us, that the greatest of all things is Love. Even healing someone is a lesser or shadow form of Love Himself. Even a word of knowledge or wisdom is a whisper of Love. Even the miraculous signs and wonders are just and echo of the Love that created the universe. All of the “this present reality” influences of Kingdom Love are imperfect or less solid than the real stuff of a Kingdom reality. Did I lose you? OK, how about Paul’s words:
1 Cor 13:1 Speaking in tongues is not the point; love is. It is neither angelic eloquence, nor the mastery of human language that persuades. It doesn’t matter how poetic, prophetic, or profound I may sound; my conversation is reduced to the hollow noise of clanging brass cymbals if love’s echo is absent. (Mirror Bible)
1 Cor 13:12 There was a time of suspense, when everything we saw was merely mirrored in the prophetic word, like in an enigma; but then (when I became a man in the revelation of Christ) I gaze face-to-face; behold, I am in him! Now I may know even as I have always been known! 13:13 Now persuasion and every pleasurable expectation is completed in agape (where my soul remembers who I am!). Agape is the superlative of everything faith and hope always knew to be true about me! Love defines my eternal moment! (Mirror Bible)
OK, so back to the opening. We are all connected. At the deepest place of us is Jesus (even if we don’t know it). We have all shared in His death…rejection. We have all shared in His despair…shame. We have all shared in His forsaken cry…abandonment. But, oh yeah, we have all shared in His resurrection…total forgiveness. We have all shared in His raising from the dead…hope. We have all shared in His glory…complete and absolute and unconditional acceptance and assurance. We have all shared in Love Himself. Now we get to share that perfect Love. We get to become that perfect Love. We get to move beyond the signs and wonders that impress the wisdom of this world into the greater and better and deeper and more profound and life changing Love that makes us all new. We get to share with someone THE Someone who changed our lives and is still saving us every day from an orphaned spirit. WE ARE HIS CHILDREN!!!!! Don’t let anyone take that from you. Let the truth of your assurance be the catalyst that erupts the Love within you to shower another with the unconditional agape revelation of your Abba. Yeah. Becoming Love, that is the “what now?” we’ve been waiting for.