Yikes! What’s going on here? Ok, I get the political thing. I understand the posturing. I’ve even lowered my expectations on what to expect from our political leaders. I now only have little hope that we can again raise our heads and find a national purpose with integrity. But, what is really going on in the big picture? Why the total hatefulness, the discouragement? Who’s peaceful?
Well, here’s my guess as to where we’re at. There’s a separation going on, one huge, big, colossal rejection here. It’s the fruit of 40 years of trying to shake God. We’ve outlawed Him, disparaged His Name and His Character. We’ve tried ridicule, suspension, attack, rumor, name calling, everything you can think of to paint a picture of God in such a way as to create doubt in the Christian community and create rejection by the world. Now, all that independency from God is ‘coming home to roost’ and creating a world of aloneness.
Just as with Adam and Eve, we’ve arrived at their same conclusion; we’ve doubted the Love of God, the Passion of God for us. That doubt has successfully separated us from that very Love, that very Life. In becoming dependent upon ourselves rather than on Him to take care of us, we’ve died from His Life. It’s pretty tricky really. The separation can take a couple different paths to accomplish its goal of independence from God. One is just simply Evil. That separation is justified in a hatred of God. It ‘unbelieves’ and is in real opposition; it not only hates dependency upon God, it demands that others join their opposition to Him. Anything attributable to the Love of God spontaneously starts the fires of anger and the battle to eliminate the very possibility of God. ‘God is dead!’ is the battle cry. Loving the darkness is its heart. This Evil is simply anti-Spirit, Anti-Christ. It does not hide its opposition or its hatred; it’s an obvious pulling away from all things ‘God’ and loves doing so.
Another kind of separation is actually not sinister and can be simple and motivated from a good place and well intended. Many times it takes place by not directly opposing the Father, but actually it can raise Him up, can declare Him. It does have a weakness in its religious fervor. It does not destroy the Christian Life but inhibits it. It can proclaim the reality of God but deny the dependency, relationship, or fellowship with the Love of God. In all its bravado, it falls off into self-righteousness and elitism. It’s motivated correctly and purposefully, but forgets to include the Love of God in its environment. While the other separation is obvious and hateful, this separation can be subtle. It was a small lie, actually a suggestion, which led Adam and Eve away from the Joy and Peace of their lives into self dependency and fear; they developed a suspicion of God’s Goodness, His Love and total Devotion to them. Adam and Eve knew God, walked and talked with God, but they began to suppose that God did not really include them in the intimacy of His Life. That suspicion flushed them into an image and a life of fear, doubt and self-centeredness. It was not their ‘un-believeness’ that separated them, it was their misinterpretation of the Heart and the Nature of God.
They forgot that God did not Love as an action, but Loved as a Nature. In the garden He included them, cared and provided for them, lavished His Life toward them. They forgot that they were created in the Image of God and began a process of making God in their human image. They ran and hid because of their fear of an angry God, hid themselves from what they presumed would be a God of retaliation. They simply separated themselves from Him in their mind, assuming something was true about God that was not true at all about God: that He was angry with them, just fed up with them, God looking for revenge.
That was not the reaction of God at all. Asking Adam ‘where are you’ was not God looking behind every tree and leaf to find them, it was God asking them, Adam where is your head, where’s your heart in this hiding. In other words, ‘Adam stop! Think about how you perceive Me’. Adam and Eve did not physically die that day but they died to being alive in the relationship and fellowship of God. They cut themselves off from the Vine of Life and Source of their Joy and Peace. Their lives continued but their hearts perished. They had forgotten that from the foundation of the world God Loved them; had forgotten that the Father, Son and Spirit of God provided a sacrificial Lamb for them before the Fall. In forgetting what they knew about God they separated themselves from God’s very Life. That separation was self-imposed; it was them doing something to themselves rather than God doing anything to them. They believed ‘against God’ and suffered the consequences for that ‘misguided belief.’ We need to be careful of doing that again today as we play in the playgrounds of self-sufficiency and self-righteousness.
James’s scriptures taught us that a double-minded person should expect nothing. Double-mindedness is best translated ‘double-souled’, believing two different pictures of God: one is imaged as Father and the other to be shunned as Judge. Given that picture, we’re simply left to wonder what’s going to happen next, what mood He’s in today! If we trust completely in Him, if we know He is Love, we should experience the Fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of knowing the Spirit, rather than fruit of fear and doubt. Paul says in Colossians 1:21 that we are alienated (estranged) in our minds. That our problems stem from the thinking we’ve done about God, humanizing Him in our human image rather than an image of God characterized by Corinthians chapter 13. We’ve bathed our minds in the same image as Adam and Eve. Rather than knowing an image of a caring Father seeking them out, providing a Remedy, we assumed an image of revenge. We forget He is a God of Mercy not misery. Paul teaches that now, He has reconciled us through His death, to present you Holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.
Paul was the most informed, he understood the most, about the Christian Life, and he still found struggle and rejection. Paul’s Faith, his relationship with God, did not isolate him from trouble. Knowing God’s heart is the healing balm to all our struggles. Knowing God’s heart brings the Comfort and the Peace of God to calm our souls and refresh our bodies. In our effort to explain God I think we sometimes try to use the Flesh to describe the Spiritual. Paul thought such was foolish. Looking at what is going on in the realm of the body or soul will not make a good yardstick for what is going on spiritually. ‘Yikes, what is going on here?’ is not answered by looking around us. The Kingdom of God is not meat or drink but Righteousness, and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit. Relationship with God yields that Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness and Temperance… Those are the evidences of His presence, His Kingdom. They were exactly the world of Adam and Eve before they separated themselves from Him by thinking He was any other God than the One that walked and talked and provided for them. One little lie about the Nature and Character of God destroyed the Source of their Life. I believe that’s why Jesus asked Peter, ‘Who do you say I am?’ The answer to that can make a big difference in what to expect about God in our lives.
“A sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured it up. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth… because they had no root they withered away. Some fell among thorns; the thorns sprung up and choked them. Others fell into good ground and brought forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold…” (Matthew 13). The good news is it all brought forth fruit, anywhere it was sown, and that’s the story of Jesus Christ.
“Can the rush grow up without the mire?” That was Bildad the Shuhite’s question to Job in Chapter 8 verse 11. Bildad’s purpose for that question was to be revealed in a later verse (19), for “out of the earth others shall grow.” Mire! That’s what we all are experiencing in some way or another. It comes in a thousand different recipes but it’s ugly, it’s gooey and it sticks! Just showing up in this fallen world qualifies you for a bit of mire and muck in your life.
Jesus often met people in the mire, in their darkness, and he did something about their lives. In fact most all the miracles were expressed to the lost, the least, the last. People stuck in their mire if you will. Tax collectors, the blind, the lame, the sick, the poor, the hungry, the brokenhearted, the lonely outcast-all stuck in the unpleasantness this life can bring. Perhaps the most stuck guy in the bunch was Saul and his murderous attitude against the Christian Faith. Paul went from violently persecuting the Church, from overseeing the stoning of Stephen, to Apostle. All that Jesus touched were raised up out of their unique situations and given ‘newness of Life.’ God makes Life out of mire! He makes something beautiful out of ugly, gooey and sticky. Not necessarily overnight, but with time. As those seeds are sown they will need to have some rest, some quiet, will need to be hidden away in the ground before they are visible above the ground. In Jesus’ parable, the farmer planted and went away, not looking back, but leaving that hidden seed to work its way to the surface and be seen. Many times our lives will need that same procedure as well. If you plant and immediately start rooting around, rummaging for proof of a crop, you will destroy the very crop that is hoped for. Left to itself, given time to germinate, left undisturbed, it will produce new Life, some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred fold, but a harvest will come no matter; all that can come out of the rotting, decomposing things of our lives. Don’t give up. Jesus came to overcome the mire and bring us Life.
Bildad’s rushes were actually reeds that grew along the Nile River bank. Just to look at them, you might not have a clue as to what a great benefit they were to that culture. However, they truly played a significant part in people’s daily lives and carried significant value because they had so many uses. Papyrus reeds were woven and used for clothing, their roots were burned for warmth, the rushes were woven to make sails for their boats, the poor people had to eat the plant occasionally, and many times they were crushed and made into papyrus paper. Moses, who as a baby was hidden in the rushes, eventually used the reed papyrus paper to write the first books of the Bible. Amazingly, the Egyptians advanced their culture above all others of that time because of their ability to write and pass their thoughts and way of living down to the next generation. Simply, without those rushes we would have had no books, no written narrative or literature from their history. Just as importantly, however, there would not have been any rushes without the “muck” in the bottom of that Nile River bank. Yep, muck! That mire turned out to be pretty important stuff. It was located about 6 feet below the rushes. In its own unique way it was miracle stuff. Muck is a coagulation of dead things, dead things that produce life. Today it could be compared to the stuff you’ve felt between your toes if you’ve ever been brave enough to step out into a farm pond. It looks and smells terrible. It’s dark, ugly stuff for sure, but without the mire, the rush would not grow! Without the mire the rushes that benefited those people would not have been possible. That stuff under water, out of sight and seemingly insignificant, was the foundation to what was seen above the water. In the order of God, mire comes before the reed! Another way to say it is to have good reeds you gotta have “muck.”
Just like Bildad, we believe that “out of good soil others shall grow.” Our declaration is it’s God’s desire to grow Life out of the daily muck we may come in contact with, make something new out of something dead, bringing Life to life. Even in the middle of muck, there is still hope for Life to spring out of that darkness. Jesus’ implication all along was that we would need to bury our lives in order to see a risen Life. We would have to die to our own mire in order for our new Lives to come forth.
WBVN “sets the table” for all ministry to come and sow, tend and harvest. We prepare the environment, charge the environment, with potential for the miracles we call the Christian Life. Our prayer is that the Christian community would be mixed with encouragement and faith, that apostolic ministry would follow to lead us in the Spirit of Christ, that teachers would come and plant Word seed, that pastors would care for the community of faith, and that the evangelists would inspire healings in the Church Life and the dead would be brought to Life. Of all people, we who believe in Christ and all that He did to provide Life as the Father would have it for us, we have the most Hope.
From all of us at the station we wish you a great summer and hope to see you at the concerts this fall. Thank you for supporting and praying for this ministry.