I love morning's like this one. One that begins with time in the Word and a great time of worship with friends. One where you are reminded that you live with people who just love Jesus and spending time with Him more than anything. One that takes you to be part of a great church family.
This morning's sermon was also super challenging and super inspiring. I was encouraged through the realness of the whole thing to be honest.
The phrase, 'You can only give away to others what you have inside of you' struck me. Because you can't fake that.
Our pastor highlighted three important aspects of kingdom life – contemplation, group and community. These aspects of life are joined together, and vitally important. They involve our personal relationship with God, our group fellowship with other believers, and our reach out into our wider world.
But there has to be a balance between these areas to be healthy. Sometimes the church can get caught up in only the group-stage. But an overemphasis on one of the three areas causes lots of problems. Because God wants us to work in true community with others. To have something coming out of us that is different and transformational. To honour each other above our differences. To know that God loves people everywhere.
God has a bigger idea of community than we have.
We get so caught up in the abstract sometimes… The theoretical question of what we should do with our lives. But we need to be more real than that. Because we should preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead… Wherever we find ourselves. We were designed to be channels of the living God, 24-7, and then in that place to follow Him.
This is the kind of worship that the Father is looking for. He is looking for the springs of living water coming out of us, that He put there in the first place.
This is what we were made for.
To be transformed in the midst of other people and to see the Spirit flow through everyone and everything. Through our love. Through our suffering. Through our journey. Through the process and the conversation that He keeps going.
The living water that flows is the actual love of God.
We give away only what is inside of us.
This is why we need to use the tool of contemplation.
Because we can only give away what is actually inside of us.
And this is where it gets really real… At least it did for me.
Contemplation is not a flight a way from reality and into fantasy. On the contrary, it is an opening of our eyes and a recognition and awareness of the world. It is something that enables you to see through a different lense. It sheds light in a brand new way. It doesn't shut out the world, it enables you to become deeply and accurately aware of the world.
The one who dares to contemplate finds himself confronted by the Divine Love moving on them.
When we slow down, God moves to speak to us. We experience God.
We find an awareness of His Presence in the silence. A simple contemplative act to move away from the distractions.
It's more that me just contemplating God's divine love. He is contemplating me with His divine love. You realise that someone is looking at you intensely. That He accepts you. That you are His beloved.
I was reminded of these words from a praise song, 'I wind down in my spirit. And I quiet down for a minute. And I lean, just lean, I just lean into You.'
Because sometimes in the realness, and in the rawness and in the pain and in the love… we learn to lean.
We need to remove the obstacles. To clear the way. To live in the present. To live in the Presence. To have an awareness of something much bigger going on.
It's like the story of Mary and Martha. And I've blogged about this before so I won't repeat it all… But it's the one thing that is needed.
Just one thing.
Martha was doing so many things, and she was doing so many things right. She served. She opened her home. She was busy. She was active with good things.
But she was not present.
She was not aware of herself. She was not aware of others.
But Mary was present. She sat. She was undistracted.
If we are not present to ourselves, we can not be present to others in any healing way.
How you do 'presence' is how you do everything else.
Because you can only give away what is inside of you.
Think about that. Because we can be living lives where everything looks great on the surface, where everything looks 'right'… But we feel drained and empty and fruitless because we are trying to give out of what we don't have, rather than what we do. And you can't fake that. You can't love others with His love if you're not receiving His love poured into you and over you and all around you… It's like trying to draw water from an empty well. And you can talk about the water and pretend to draw water and dance around the well… But the bucket has to be full and actually drawn and used to really make a difference.
Jesus said very clearly, 'Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her.'
Mary was affirmed. She was in the moment. She was giving Jesus her attention.
If you learn how to be present, you will learn how to be in the Presence.
How many times are we preoccupied with other things? Not just with God but with people, how often are we not really giving our attention to the people around us? We're not pouring into them, and they're not pouring into us?
The group and community living that we need will only be true and real and good, if it comes from contemplation. From being undistracted from the one thing that is needed.
To be present.
And to live in His Presence.
Well, I don't know about anyone else… But I'm challenged by that.