“The Christian Life is a continual struggle against the old self. Not just a struggle in the sense of a BATTLE, but a real putting in the tomb… All authentic Christian lives… know these long ‘tunnels’ where one does not see anything anymore, where one understands nothing, or one is disgusted. Jesus makes us descend with him in the tomb, in the weakness, in the darkness, in everything that seems dead in our heart, but always to rectify us, to purify us, to liberate.” ~Thomas Philipe, Reflection on the last station of the cross
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
~ Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Philippians 3
Oh beloved, it is true.
Though, we have not yet even begun – beyond a smattering – to believe it.
Somewhere though, it begins. It scratches at the edge of our consciousness. Oh, we have heard it since our earliest years in Sunday School, but the battering rams of our “religious” upbringing, push our sense of Who He really Is, so far away.
And, those of us who have grown up in the West, and especially in America, have been fed copious doses of the idea that god is somewhere “up there,” and that he is none-too-pleased with us in our disobedience. We take our pictures of the evil earthly fathers we have had (and the ones we have been) and we try to wedge the Eternal One into this very small, and very inaccurate mold.
Really, our pride is astounding. We make the very G_d of the universe so small.
We make Him distant, though He is omnipresent.
We downgrade His power, though He is omnipotent.
We cast Him as fickle, though He is omniscient.
We refuse to see Him as He is – Though He Himself defines Himself as Steadfast, Eternal, and Unchanging Love.
Can we see it?
Paul did. Something had to die within him though, before he could truly grasp it. And even Paul, an Hebrew scholar of great renown (who would have seen the mega theme of G_d’s steadfast Love in the Old Testament), had to go through nearly two decades of having himself reprogrammed by the Holy Spirit to begin to see it.
Jesus Loved Paul… And as Paul came to know Him, nothing else, absolutely nothing else, mattered.
Now beloved, don’t downgrade the word. Love is not a little thing. Love is the profound concern for the wellbeing of another, without regard as to whether we love the Lover back. Love never changes, and Love changes us if we let it. Love makes us whole and real and true and free. Love is what we have all been wanting, though we sometimes did not know the word. Love makes us powerful, and gives us the desire to give the very same Love away to others…
Said simply: G_d’s Love changes everything.
So yes, this is a life and death struggle. And, we will not succeed in the struggle unless we actually die. We must die to our false belief that G_d has anything other than purposing our very best within His Infinite Heart. We must die to the idea that we could ever perform our way into being good enough to deserve this avalanche of goodness moving towards us.
But something happens when do… Just when we begin to accept it. Just when we begin to think we understand it. The Love we think we can handle blows us away. We climb what we think is the mountain peak of His Love towards us, and just as we get to the top, we realize that it was nothing than a foothill at the base of a mountain range that extends to infinite heights – with range upon range, and peak upon peak bursting upwards into heavens higher than we ever used to be able to even comprehend.
So, are you struggling to sense the Love that He has for you? Perhaps that is the problem. You are still thinking He is far away, and that you are trying to attain something. Stop. Die to that way of thinking, even now – right now.
Tonight is your night beloved. Time to start at the beginning: “Jesus Loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Daily Quote: “The secret to loving, he says, is living loved.” ~ Max Lucado
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12