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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

living/ALIVE As If God Is Really God So That Your Life Uniquely Reflects Him - A Meditation.

A month and a half ago, imagine/Northampton launched it's series for 2012-2013 called "living/ALIVE as if God is really God so that your life uniquely reflects Him." At it's heart, in my view, is the notion that a genuine relationship with the living God in it's essence is a promise of living fully alive and revealing the effects and reality of his Presence through each of our unique persons.

The Scriptures allude constantly to such quality of living with the triune God of the Old and New Testaments:

1. John 10:10:
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
2. 2 Corinthians 5:17:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
3. Ephesians 2:10: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
5. Isaiah 58:11:"And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

These are a mere jot of all the texts describing life with God for those who love him as being far more rich in experience and blessing than what we can manage to remember over a lifetime, or even hold in view for a day or two. Our memories are limited, and our hearts are fickle. Many of us possess what Paul Simon referred to as "a short, little attention span," in his song, "You Can Call Me Al."

What we hope to do in our 9-month series is draw attention to and even embed a quality of life with Christ in imagine folks so they can become resplendent with the thoughts, ways, and purposes of God. We think such a life is the biblical, normal Christian life -- life as it's intended to be lived within, and for the pleasure of our beneficent King.

So let's look at each phrase of the theme:

  • living/ALIVE:
This deliberate pairing of words captures a particular quality of living. It means being deeply engaged, or fully present to one's life in God. Such life has richness of meaning, and the person living it pursues with heart what matters to him or her because of the astounding stature of being a son or daughter of the Most High. Living /ALIVE has fire in the belly. It's passion is directed not diffuse. It sees the Gospel as a miracle and the Kingdom as a pearl of inestimable worth. This life invested, not detached; committed, not pacified; dedicated, not vacillating; in, not on the fence.

living/Alive summons the shedding of tears at the sight and sound of human suffering, oppression, injustice, cruelty, and virulent sin crushing hearts.

living/Alive entices Christ-followers to gradually surrender their wills toward righteousness, love and holiness because flows from and gathers around God.

living/Alive laughs and celebrates and shouts and dances when joy breaks out and calls the beloved further into gratitude and worship.

living/Alive studies and contemplates to sink deeper into the truth that sets us free.

living/Alive rolls up its sleeves and goes to work for more than just a paycheck.

living/Alive seeks humility, prizes goodwill, delights in integrity, lauds a servant heart, longs for courage fueled by righteousness.

living/ALIVE prays as if its natural to do and often; it sees prayer as glorious lever creating change by  connecting the grace of Almighty God to the suffering of a broken world.

living/ALIVE assumes that living any other way is a tragedy no matter how it might be packaged.

  • "as if God is really God":

Isn't that the Assumption of all assumptions for anyone seeking to live a life devoted to following Christ? If God is actually who he says he is in the Scriptures, and through the Holy Spirit in real-time, then he and what he cares for should become our preferred path and chief end. Living as if God is actually God : eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, sovereign, triune, self-existent, self-sufficient, holy, just, good, loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, etc., should alter how we choose to pursue our lives.

For instance, living/ALIVE as if God is really God means to be fully attending to the unfolding story of our lives, and what God desires us to be and do with all he has given us. If God is really God, living/ALIVE accepts he has a primary say in the trajectory of all our enterprises and relationships. Such a spiritual perspective also assumes a manifest trust in his wisdom and goodness, such that we seek his counsel and provision to fulfill our destiny. Without such trust we sink into self-support, or the faux comfort of our prized routines on paths well-worn by habit.

With God really being God, we can risk more than Sundays, tithing, mission trips and outreach events for the Kingdom. We can take chances which bloom from humongous God-breathed dreams not our own, and we can expect his help when there's no gas left in the missional tank. Trusting God is really God can make all of us ordinary Joes and Josephines into radicals of the fire-heart called disciples; not glittery superstars or ripped, flying superheros, just people found by a Shepherd King who invited them to help heal and redeem the world through him, step-by-step.

It might simply be more than we can imagine, yet it's true. So for God to really be God in our lives he must test and try us to see if our trust in him is more like whistling in the dark than a firm grip no matter how overwhelming the ordeal we face. Without such refining, our trust slowly becomes flaccid and juvenile reducing Jesus to Santa Claus who shows up, showers you with grace presents, and then stays safely out of the way until you really need him.

  • so that your life uniquely reflects Him:
Every follower of Jesus with his or her unique DNA, genealogy, racial composite, personality, temperament, motivational gifts mix, intellect, life experience, and spiritual/theological bent has the grand opportunity to reflect who God is in a way which reveals his nature. We all don't do it the same. That's a wonderful reality!

By living/ALIVE as if God is really God, we have the chance to show forth his excellence and beauty and goodness and truth in a manner winsome and intriguing. Exuberance with wisdom and charity can melt a heart frozen by sin and pain.

God has made you and me to resonate with his heart, and when we do, we reflect him like a kaleidoscope refracts light into the colors we can see.We are like a great mosaic, each unique piece filling in a picture greater than itself. Another fascination mystery is that our uniqueness fits the uniqueness of others in ways no one else can. There are people in your journey you've not encountered yet who will resonate with who you are, and have the chance to find Christ within you.

What a wonder it is to know that seeking to be fully alive to ourselves, God and others gives us the opportunity to be a conduit through which something of the gracious refulgence of God can be experienced, especially when we love them.

So here's a prayer for you [and me] to pray daily for at least a month:

 Father of wonders and goodness and lavish grace,

Creator of rainbows and ice cream, and the smell of pine trees

Help me learn your wonders within my ordinary days:

        Where my heart is listless and feeble,

        Where my imagination has dimmed and stilled,

        Where I'm mostly obeying routine's subtle numbing,

Lift me to delight and make me sensitive to the beautiful all around.

Show me your exuberance in everything you've made: tastes and smells and sights and sounds galore for the sampling.

In my troubles, give me music I can hear;

Over my pains wrap a soft, warm comforter of healing and calming I can feel;

In my comfortable narrowness, liberate me by a sky filling with Northern Lights and shooting stars I can shout about;

In my many distractions, let me stumble into exquisite goodness and symmetry that might marvel and be glad.

Free me from everything stifling wonder, smothering joy, and turning my faith to brittle, dreary unbelief.

Make it be, Lord

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