Friday, March 13, 2015

Wholeness, Fullness: God in you

Ephesians 3:14-21
Do you ever just feel empty? Exhausted? Tired? Tired of being sick and tired? Do you feel like something is "missing?" Have you ever wondered if you are a "whole person?" We all have struggles in life that could make us feel incomplete, but Paul (or whoever wrote his writings after his death *snark*) says we can be "filled up to all the fullness of God" in verse 19.  
So, what does that look like?
A "whole" person is generally satisfied... with life, work, family, self, God, church, others. Satisfied, content... not complacent or lazy. That kind of peace and satisfaction seems impossible in this day. Especially in this age of malcontent and obvious longing for "more." The whole person also feels loved and is able to love others in return. Difficulties and hardships don't devastate them, because they are able to go through them with confidence, not of their own selves, but a calm assurance in God. The whole person isn't a complainer or someone who is quick to blame others. A positive attitude guards the whole person's mind since they know that the Lord will work everything out for good (Rom. 8:28).
We, as followers of Christ, have allowed "christians" to sully our good names. We've allowed conservatives to use the banner of Christianity to abuse sinners, the downtrodden, and to abuse the poor, widowed, bereft and those that NEED Christ the most. That creates a hardness to some of us. We lose the love aspect of Jesus. We think that any "good christian" acts like a white, Republican, conservative that looks, walks, talks, and VOTES a certain way. When the truth is, being a Christian in and of itself doesn't automatically make us that way. We don't automatically become that way. Jesus wasn't that way. God IS love. Jesus IS love. And becoming a Christian, a real, true Christian doesn't always immediately make you feel complete. Fullness, true and complete fullness, comes only from love. Specifically, it is when we experience God's love FOR US. For many years, I knew theologically, mentally, and scientifically that God loved me. God is love... For God So Loved the World... Oh How He Loves You And Me... I sang about it. I traveled with groups, chorales, my family and even on my own. We shouted it, taught it, held conferences over it and yes... me... EVEN me... I preached about it. 
But I didn't really feel it. 
Shocking, huh? That someone can be told something and hold onto it, and repeat it and tell it and share it... only to really not believe it or "feel" it. I allowed men to tell me that I wasn't worthy of God's love. I bought that lie in Bible school. I had to act a certain way, and be a certain level of "good" for God to continue to love me. I mean, we tell sinners that God loves them, even in their sin, enough to die for them. Die. But once we have converted someone, we tell them that any issues or sin, or even questions make them aberrant and in jeopardy of God's love. Cut your hair? Well... then you are in danger of hellfire. The truth is... standards are great and I have mine. You should have yours... but they should be driven from LOVE, not law. I allowed people, who similarly felt rejected, to tell me that WE didn't need God... he didn't want US, and the feeling was mutual. I bought that lie. It was ONLY after the complete fracturing and restructuring of my life that I realized, I was incomplete. I was functional, but not filled. I was alive, living, and even thriving (with God's providence) to a degree. But I wasn't whole and I wasn't full. Only after I took a deep look at my life and started dealing with events that had shattered my soul in childhood did I begin to experience His love in an truly personal, one-on-one and intimate way. Once I FELT the security of His love for me, regardless of me, my past, my sin, my direct disobedience, my running, my full blown disrespect in encouraging others to run... God still loves me. LOVES, not loved. After that full revelation of WHO Jesus is, and HOW MUCH God loves me, I discovered great joy in walking in obedience to His will. I even take great joy in my personal convictions and standards now. I understand the consecration "unto the Lord..." and not at the request or demand of humans. That  The reason was that I knew I could trust God with my heart, with my standards, my life, my sin, my everything came from love - specifically God's love. That love gave me a trust level that I could also trust God to meet all my needs in His time and way.

Do you feel God's love, or is it just a biblical fact to you? A felt board fantasy? Some far off God sitting in far away judgement? The fool has said in their heart, there is no God... Maybe the two of you haven't spoken in some time. Here's the truth... the real deal: If you long for wholeness, the key is to experience an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Not your mom, your dad, your heritage. Not your memory, or your past. God, today, can heal you and make you whole. You can till up the hard, cold ground in your heart. You can change. This is possible only when you're willing to open up and let the Lord search your heart. God is fully capable to show you what to repent of... what to live like... how to talk, walk, and treat others... 
He'll reveal what's holding you back from accepting His love, from believing it, and from moving forward to a fruitful and successful life in Christ. You can be whole. You can be full. You can be content.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

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