By Linda Rex
Here I am in palm-tree laden Orlando, Florida where water and sunbathers can be found just about anywhere. The beauty of fellowship between people of a multitude of nations and backgrounds can be seen and experienced at this gathering I am attending of Grace Communion International.
Yesterday I was in a workshop session, and a pastor from Bermuda introduced himself to me. I ate breakfast this morning with people from California and West Virginia, while yesterday had breakfast with a friend from Wisconsin. I have lost track of all the places the people I have talked with have been from—Canada, Wyoming, Illinois, places in Africa, Europe and even Asia.
I have seen classmates from my elementary school, college, and Grace Communion Seminary where I finished my master’s degree. I have listened to and seen young people from Florida and elsewhere share their heart for Jesus through music and art, and a lovely lady from the Carolinas share the love of God in Christ through a devotional.
What is so beautiful to watch is the way people from clear across the world from each other will embrace and with excited voices share with their delight in seeing one another. Yesterday we watched videos and looked at pictures of the ministry which is being done now in Africa, and today we will learn about other work God is doing in this world to bring healing, renewal and grace to people’s lives.
As I sat in the rear of the room (I have sensitive ears), I bore witness to this wonderful sight of a wide variety of people all worshiping together, and participating in the joy of the Lord through praise. The presence of God in the Spirit was very near, as I could sense Abba’s delight in the praises of his people in which we participate with Jesus in giving.
Indeed, if there were a picture of the perichoretic life of God with his people, this would be as close as we can get to it in this life. To me, this is what God has in mind for all of us—to love God and love one another deeply and whole-heartedly, as equals yet uniquely ourselves in a unity and harmony of the grace and love of Abba, Jesus and the Spirit. All of life is centered in Christ and is lived in worship and praise to our Creator and Redeemer. Our sharing in Christ by the Spirit and with one another demonstrates to all those around us we are God’s beloved children.
Yes, as God has shown me, we have our struggles to live in the truth of this love and grace. We rub up against one another in our everyday life in ways which can cause irritation, frustration and even anger. But if we are open to it, God can use these situations and experiences to refine us and heal us and transform us. The Spirit, when we respond to his leading and prompting can use these conflicts to actually build stronger, healthier and more real bonds between us. As we grow up in Christ, we become more and more bound together in a oneness which can only be divine in its origin and reality.
As I listened to Cathy Deddo speak this morning, I was reminded again all our lives are held in the midst of this relationship with God in Christ, and we awaken each new day in the reality we are fully and necessarily dependent upon God for everything. And our purpose here on earth is to point one another to, and to share in the truth of, this reality—we are Christ’s and he is ours. Our life, truly and in its entirety, is in him in and by his Spirit, and not in anything else.
This day of grace, which through Jesus is ours, is a day of joy, peace, and fellowship through the Holy Spirit. May we all enjoy every one of the blessings of life in Christ Jesus by responding to this work of harmony, oneness and unity the Spirit is calling us into to be lived out both now and forever in the presence of Abba, Jesus and the Spirit. Thank you, Jesus, that in you, all this is real and possible by your Spirit.
Dearest Abba, thank you. Thank you for all you’ve done particularly in our fellowship to bring healing, renewal and growth in spite of, rather in the midst of, our failures, struggles and losses. May you finish the marvelous thing you are doing in Grace Communion International and through us in the world around us, through Jesus our Lord and by your Spirit. Amen.
“…that they may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. …I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” John 17:21, 23 NASB
by Linda Rex
Have you ever had one of those days when everything went exactly as you planned it? And everyone who saw you had something upbeat to tell you? You were in your glory—all was wonderful and beautiful?
Sometimes life gets pretty gloomy and we forget that good things do happen to us. If you’ve never experienced a really good day or even part of a good day, then I pray you will have that experience. There’s nothing quite like it.
I’ve talked a lot in my blogs and my preaching about how God shares all of life with us, especially the suffering, grief and sorrow of life. But he also shares the glory days with us.
We will be celebrating Palm Sunday this weekend and as I read through the story again it occurred to me that here is a time in Christ’s humanity when he had a glory day. The pilgrims entering Jerusalem to worship at the temple during the Passover season were welcomed and celebrated. Jesus, however, received an even more special greeting, for he was being welcomed as the Messiah. And, indeed, he was the King of the universe, come to save his people. Even though they misunderstood what kind of king and savior he was, they were absolutely right in acknowledging his glory.
Oftentimes we will run into someone who objects to us receiving the glory that is ours. In Jesus’ case, the religious leaders objected to all this praise. It infringed on them receiving the glory they thought was theirs alone. And it most certainly looked like the people were giving glory to Jesus that only God deserved.
But Jesus said if the people didn’t praise him, the stones themselves would cry out in praise. No one would stand in the way of God in Christ receiving the praise and glory due him. Jesus himself would not prevent anyone from giving glory to God at this moment. God was keeping his Word, fulfilling every promise made to man since the beginning of time in the person of his Son. How could anyone be silent in this moment?
What can help to keep our feet on the ground in the midst of our own personal glory day is recognizing that whatever glory we receive is taken up in Christ and perfected in him. Whatever glory we receive is a participation in Christ’s glory.
We were created to be reflections of God’s glory. Glory was never meant to be ours alone, independent of God. For it is in him that we “live and move and exist” as the apostle Paul said. As we shine, God is glorified, and we can point to him as the source and meaning of whatever recognition, praise and blessing we may receive from others.
Yes, we were meant to shine, to excel, to be praiseworthy. But all in union and communion with God in Christ. Gathered about us—in us, with us, for us—we find the Father, Son and Spirit overflowing with love, joy and pleasure at the accomplishment and success and beauty of their child. God’s glory overflows into us and shines for all to see.
When the praise that is due comes, the compliments are showered on you, the recognition is given to you—receive them. Don’t reject them in false humility. Rather embrace them as opportunities to share in Christ’s glory. Turn them into the praise of God they are meant to be. Experience them as a participation in the life and love of the Father, Son and Spirit. You are God’s beloved child and he gets real excited when you have a glory day. So enjoy it with him!
Holy God, thank you so much for sharing your glory with us in Christ. Thank you for giving us happy times and times when we do well and praise comes. Grant us the grace to remember that it all is a participation in your life and love, your glory, rather than trying to hoard it and keep it for ourselves. For we acknowledge that it is in you, and you alone, that we live and move and have our existence. Amen.
“As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” Luke 19:37–40