July 10, 2010

Opening for a Few Good Friends

Posted in Community tagged , , at 9:29 am by Mo Dardinger

To build true community, to grow really close to others, it helps a lot if you live near one another. Then you can take over meals when they need help. And water their lawns when they’re away. And get to know all of their children’s names. And interact regularly, several times each week. I need this, and I want to make it a high priority — right after my next trip.

You can grow close, I think, in your workplace, too. If you work with others three or more days a week and have lots of interaction. But the evenings and weekends at home and in the neighborhood provide the best chance for real friendship and fellowship. Like Randy Frazee says. So I need to get to know my neighbors and become a “team” with some of them. Just a few families will be enough. It doesn’t have to be ten or twenty. That would be overwhelming. Just a few will do.

July 3, 2010

Allegiances

Posted in Spiritual Life tagged , , , , at 6:08 pm by Mo Dardinger

It is harder to live the Christian life than we are living. We have cozied up to the world.

A few weeks ago, my pastor ended his message with this sobering thought.

What he meant is that too often we do not think things through. We let the culture around us dictate our beliefs and practices. It should be difficult to live for God, not easy. We should find ourselves fighting the current all the time, swimming upstream. Not that we would do this unaided. The help of the Spirit is promised to those who do God’s will. The Lord Yeshua Himself said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” But He never claimed that we could plow in one direction while He plows in another and receive this “easy yoke” benefit. There are two oxen in the one yoke. One is our Savior, and the other is me — or you. The two harnessed together in the yoke must pull together. They must set off in the same direction. The Lord Yeshua (Jesus) is already headed the right way — and unlikely to turn around at our whim!

What must change? Today, for me, I find this to repent of: that I value my own spiritual and emotional growth more than I value my brothers’ obedience to the Lord. I may say that I want good things for others, such as the never-ending rewards they will reap for following the clear guidance of Scripture. But when push comes to shove, I truly desire my own freedom and my own spiritual and emotional growth. Their growth and blessing is fine — up to the point where it interferes with my growth. I want to be selfish like the culture I grew up in tells me to be, like my flesh encourages me to be, like my mother taught me to be. I want to be free and happy more than I want my brothers to be holy.

My spiritual director recently pointed out what I didn’t see. There had been for some months a time each week that was special to me and to my friends. More special to me than to them, I’m sure. It was a delight to have a “space” each week where the real, undeveloped me could come out and play. Where I was welcome to be gregarious, boisterous, and loud — qualities that were not appreciated in my childhood home. Where I belonged, knew what to expect, and knew I was “family.”

But that space has gone away now. So soon after I saw how much it benefits me, it’s gone. Because of the obedience of others to the Lord — which obedience I should support, not oppose.

My Father will have to provide another way that I can be healed and can grow, if He desires this outcome. He must want wholeness for me, mustn’t He? I certainly want it for myself, and He is said to love us better even than we love ourselves.

There might be other priorities on His infinitely brilliant mind, though. And if there are, that needs to be okay with me. Not all healing will take place this year, or even on this old, corrupted Earth at all. Some of it will wait until we are freed from our bodies of sin and death — freed either by our own deaths or by the rapture of the Church. Some healing may even continue afterward, on the New Earth, the perfected Earth, where righteousness dwells. Who is to say we will not learn, grow, and expand our healthiness year by year and millennium by millennium?

The main point is that we will, if yielded to our generous and loving Father, be healed and whole eventually. And that’s a truly encouraging thought.