Breaking from a Village Focus

What do you think of when reading the following quote? It was something posted on Facebook by an old family friend who we fondly called, “Uncle Sam.”  That he’s not my real uncle, yet had a spiritual role in my life as one, is only a confirmation of what I personally thought of when I first saw the quote. (I’m still interested in what you see in it, as well)

Kingdom of God and Village Quote

Jesus said the same thing in so many words: that the Kingdom of God is not where you can have one foot in, and one foot out. His disciples had to literally leave their old lives and many relationships, (“villages”) in order to literally follow Him for the three intense years He ministered on earth.  I assume some spouses came along. Some did not. Generally, it was close family members that had the biggest problem with the radical new thing Jesus was bringing about,¹ and they were the sorest source of resistance and  “pull” from fully following Jesus.

When Peter felt the need to remind Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you,” Jesus had no argument. Only an encouragement. His encouragement was that you don’t leave the smallness of one’s “village,” to enter a place of emptiness. You come into a large Kingdom with an abundance of spiritual relationships.

Truly I tell you, anyone who has left homes or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for Me and the gospel, will not fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land—along with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life.  ~ Mark 10:28-30

Unlike a generic “brotherhood,” (an orphan substitute commonly offered in “church” life) the Kingdom contains true, and everlasting family that can only be discerned and enjoyed when there is a shift in one’s priorities away from the “village mindset” that keeps us fearful, limited, and walking in the concerns of the flesh all the time.

It’s not easy to live in the Kingdom now. Especially when in doing so, one may have to endure condemnation, misunderstanding, or grief from those you love, and even respect.

“Forgetting” What Lies Behind

In the Song of Songs, there was a beautiful woman who either left, or was taken from her village, who later became the bride of Solomon. To say she did not struggle a little may not be accurate. In fact, I can hear the voice of the aged David saying to this woman:

Listen, daughter, pay attention and consider: forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty, and honor him… Psalm 45:10-11

It’s a hard saying, but as the Bride of Christ, it’s just not possible to endlessly seek for the approval of others, and be fully engaged in Kingdom work. Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?  Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal. 1:10.  This does not mean literally abandoning family, or being callous and unloving to those we are in relationship to – but it does mean being aware of one’s affections, and how they may be divided from Christ and His Kingdom.

His Bride… has dove’s eyes only for Him.  It may be possible to do this, wherever we are, but the expectation of challenges and persecution should always be counted on.

¹ Matthew 10:35-37

For more reading, see: The Fellowship of Dove’s Eyes

A Star Is Born ~ A Movie & A Meaning

star is bornRecently we watched the movie, “A Star is Born,” this time with friends.  For those with sensitive ears such as myself, it has a lot of harsh language, but the love story in it is powerful, and it is very well acted.  It was even better the second time.

What struck me, as it often does in classic love stories, is the resemblance to the greatest love story of all time…the Song of Songs.  One just can’t escape it.  An unknown and disadvantaged young woman is discovered by a man of great status, who falls passionately in love with her, and gives her a new life.  In this case it is a woman named Alley (played by Lady Gaga) singing in a bar, and a famous musician named Jackson Maine (played by Bradley Cooper) stumbling in and hearing her sing.  As they get to know each other after that, Alley expresses to Jack her insecurity to sing any songs that she wrote herself.  But with Jack’s tender encouragement, she decides to become vulnerable and sing one of her songs to him.  He  loves it.  In fact, he loves her songs so much that at his next concert he sings one her songs – but not without encouraging her to come on stage to sing it with him.

What ensued was, for awhile, a new career for the previously insecure Alley as she went on tour with Jack, and he put her center stage again and again.  The chemistry between the two was incredible, and there was no competitive attitude between either one as they sang each other’s songs, and supported each other’s careers.   It was a selfless blending of two voices, into one voice.

Again, I think of the Song of Songs here.  One of its great translation challenges is that it is not always clear when the Shulamite woman is speaking, and when the King is speaking. (and thirdly, the less common “Daughters of Jerusalem”)  There are no Hebrew “tick” marks to say it’s one or the other.  So opinions vary, and I personally love that it is not cut and dry.  Not just because it makes understanding the Song something of a treasured mystery that has to be sought after, but also because it is a beautiful picture of spiritual oneness in relationship.  Two voices melding together as one – selflessly supporting each other to the point where one cannot tell when one voice begins, and one voice ends.

He says to her, “Let your light shine,” and she says to Him, “You are my light,” and when this happens back and forth fast enough – it’s hard to know their voices as something separate anymore.

They co-author, as co-heirs, in constant co-habitation.

All of Him, Loves All of You

star is born nose

Another beautiful take-away from the movie, is the way Jack’s love transformed Alley’s self image.  She was especially embarrassed of her large nose.  People told her that it would keep her from having a singing career.  But Jack didn’t skip a beat in convincing Alley that he absolutely adored her nose, and in fact, would wish that it was bigger. :-)  I am reminded of how Paul says that it is the “least” of the body parts (in the Body of Christ) that should have the most honor.  “We pour upon them great honor,” he says, 1 Corinthians 12:22-25.

Does anyone have any ideas how the body of Christ can be more like this?  Writers, musicians, bloggers…everyone doing their own public thing online, or trying to out-post and out-wise another.  Still others are in hiding, feeling intimidated or insecure to shine because of voices in their heads that they are not good enough.  What once seemed like a more united and encouraging focus, has become a fight for one voice to be heard above another.  There is just far too much individualism in the Body of Christ, and it is grieving.  I wonder how I might be contributing to it myself.

It is my sense that until we, like the two lovers in the Song, are truly one in our love, that the world just won’t see the Kingdom of God come to earth.  It may take something drastic for this to happen.  Maybe all of us need to come together, leave Facebook, stop writing, or just decide together to fast and pray for a fresh visitation of God’s spirit upon us.

I’m sure it starts with just two.  It’s the foundation of every great love story, isn’t it?

Anyway, that’s all I want to share about this movie for now.  Some of the content, as well as the ending, is challenging.  I won’t spoil it for anyone by sharing too much.  Plus all metaphors lose traction at some point.

But one can find even in this difficult ending, in my opinion, something of Christ in it.  If you are willing to see it.

Love never fails.