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

The Comfortability of Christ

Many years ago I was really struggling when in the religious scene, feeling that by and large, people were not aware, or truly believing that Jesus was actually in their midst.  I mean if He was REALLY sitting (or standing) among us, then why were we talking about Him as if He wasn’t there?  Why were we singing and praying in such a religiously goofy way?  It didn’t make sense to me that we weren’t more quiet and listening.  Seriously, why all the weirdness?  In fact, I’ve felt this same feeling about many of the “house church” meetings I’ve attended as well.

The other day I ran across a picture that I drew when I was just 20 years old.  It was a “church in a box,” with Jesus standing outside the glass walls, and everyone inside completely unaware that He was out in the streets with the common unreligious folk.

Fast forward to now.  As many of you know, my husband and I run a campground.  It has a wide variety of people.  Many of whom hang with us in our cabin, or around the bonfire.  I think about this often – that despite the fact that there is a lot of drinking, swearing, and rock music going on around here – that I am now comfortable with all types of people in the world, and can sense Jesus is in our midst having fun with them, and loving on them.

Does this sound heretical?

Let me be even more provocative.  It used to be that for people to know Jesus, I invited them to our meetings.  Later I just encouraged people to go to Him directly.  But now I am now increasingly filled with this truth …  “If you want to get to know Jesus, get to know me.”

In other words, the mystery of “Christ in me – and you” is a total game-changer for what religion calls “evangelism,” even since Jesus walked the earth.  The fact is, Christ dwells in us, and we are the light of the world.  So knowing Jesus has to be something totally dependent on relationship now, wouldn’t you say?  I’m thinking that it even boils down to the necessity for our very words, touch, etc. to transfer divine life and freedom to others.

Now with that being said, I wish big miracles were happening all around me, so that it always “felt” like Jesus was living in me.  It’s just not that way, to my sadness at times.  But I enjoy the daily opportunities to love people, and see their guilt, shame, and fear melt away – albiet slowly most the time.  It’s hard to see what others see, and I don’t want to presume I know this — but never in my life have I ever been so comfortable to bring up the living Jesus in conversation then ever before in my life, and with such “ungodly” people, too (as the religious might call them).  No more is the “gospel” (as I’m growing to know it more accurately) something weird and awkward to share with others like it used to be.  It’s truly become something – or more intimately, Someone – I live and breathe every day, because it’s something/Someone that has become a very part of me.

Maybe too, because I’m not really different from anybody else.  Definitely not any “better.”