Hey there! Here is this week’s Living Water. It’s one of my favorites – Top 5! Please listen to Walk With Me tonight (Wed) 8 pm on www.yfnradio.com. Blessings, Christopher
I am Yours, and You Are Mine – Real Communion (Classic)
So I was sitting in this village in Africa on a mission trip and I was looking around at the young and old gathered around and I thought, “I love these people.” And then I told them so through an interpreter.
The thing is – I had just met them about ten minutes before. It was such a real feeling – that we were connected somehow. And I remember thinking – this sounds strange – loving people I just met. But really I had been praying for them and thinking about them for a while. And, even though separated by an ocean, culture, ethnicity and experience – we had one thing in common (the most important thing) – our love for Christ – bonded by the Holy Spirit.
And that is one of the most powerful and uniting forces in the world.
Family. Good. Husband and wife. Good. Friends. Good. Long-time friends – even better. Next door neighbors – good. Co-workers – can be good. Teammates – good. Think of all the possible relationships we can share in throughout life – they can be life-giving. But none of them can come close to what God designed, Jesus fulfilled and commanded and Paul explained – the body of Christ.
“The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt and the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters in to the exuberance (1 Corinthians 12:25-26 MSG).”
According to Paul in this above passage, it goes something like this…If you have ALS, we have ALS. If you have breast cancer, we have breast cancer. If you are lonely and isolated, we feel that too. If you are crying, we are crying. If you feel defeated and discouraged, we feel it. If you are lost, we are lost.
If you are healing, we are healing! If you are being restored, we are being restored! If you are hopeful again, we are hopeful again! If God has vindicated you, we are vindicated! If you are wiping away tears, we are wiping away tears! If you are celebrating, we are celebrating!
It is the power and the function of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can take relationships of any kind from purely social to eternal and authentic and of substance. It is the only power that can undo all the things we add to relationships – status, performance, wealth, success, appearance – all the things the world says that define acceptance and belonging – undone by simply being in Christ and depending on one another, sacrificing for one another.
Unfortunately, if Paul were around today, he would be disappointed at how far many churches fall from this idea of the body of Christ. Too often, churches – bodies and communities of Christ fall into being satisfied with social relationships rather than Spirit-based relationships. The mere appearance of holiness, fear, judgment (explicit or implicit), superficiality, perfectionism, and consumerism – all worldly social norms – eclipse the covenantal and unconditional love, dependence, authenticity and grace – all the ingredients of true belonging and communion that were intended.
But take these – the love, the dependence, authenticity and grace and the work of the Holy Spirit now as the foundations to your: family, marriage, friendship, neighbors, co-workers, teammates and yes church members. It then would be a portrait of communion…not just a sacrament, but a way of living and relating.
We can be and are in communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and one another – not because of our goodness, our abilities or gifts, or anything else to do with us – really – it is for one reason that we belong to God – because He chose to have us belong to Him through Jesus. Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit… (John 15:16 MSG).” And it is a true belonging. One that nothing in the world can take away or stop or minimize. When I stop and think about it and truly comprehend it (as much as I can), it is breathtaking. That God loves me and accepts me and there is nothing I can do to add or take away from it. Think about it…
If you are seeking and searching to belong…if you are thirsting for a deeper connection…if you are desperate for being accepted for who you are…find it in Him and brothers and sisters living in Him. Whether sitting in an African village or a kitchen or a coffee shop or at the mall or in the sanctuary…
I want you to know today that despite your past experiences and all the voices that say you can’t or don’t – you do belong, you can be attached – “through Him, with Him, in Him – in the unity of the Holy Spirit…”
Rev. Christopher B. Wolf
Christopher B. Wolf is pastor of First Reformed Church of Saddle Brook, NJ and is the author of Giving Faith a Second Chance: Restarts, Mulligans and Do-Overs (2007) and With You Every Step of the Way (2011); and the host of Walk With Me, Wednesdays 8 pm on WYFN 94.9 FM-NY and on www.yfnradio.com.
“It is a matter of sharing and bearing the pain and puzzlement of the world so that the crucified love of God in Christ may be brought to bear healingly upon the world at exactly that point.” N.T. Wright