(This is post 8 in a series that starts here)
A couple months ago, on the advice of a friend, bought the book, Jesus Manifesto. I started reading it, two or three times, but just couldn't get into it. So I put it aside. But with all the struggles I've been going through in relation to my walk with Jesus, I thought it might be worth a try looking at it again. I started again at the beginning and read the first couple chapters.
This time I am mesmerized. I must finish it. Jesus, reading this book totally confirms what I've been realizing: You are what I've been missing. You are Who I am longing for. You ARE the center! Of all things! You are the center for Your church - and You are the center of and for me. Yes You are!
The other morning, I woke again with that sadly familiar feeling of emptiness, lostness, almost of confusion. Even felt sick to my tummy. And then it flashed on me: I am missing You, dear Jesus. Only You can fill this emptiness, this feeling of loss that has been dogging me. I've tried to fill it in church. Not just the church "systems," the "doing church" which I was deeply involved in for years, but found in the end that that just didn't fill me. But also in "being part of the church" which I was surprised to find hasn't done it either. You have not allowed me to find the joy or fulfillment I've been hoping for, even there, even though it was so much "better" than the former "doing." You have kept me wandering in this empty wilderness. For a purpose, I am beginning to see.
When I started reading Jesus Manifesto over again, this time it made sense to me. You, Jesus, are the center of everything. The whole Bible points to You. Creation points to You. Your church points to You. Your Spirit points to You alone.
I have so often prayed, "Holy Spirit, please guide me in my walk today. Please show me what God would have me do. Please help me walk in Jesus' footsteps. Please give me people to minister to, to serve. Please help me understand the Scriptures. Please help me, please help my children, please help others. Please guide me into fellowship with Your church." And while I have received many answers to these prayers, there has still been this emptiness.
And now I know why. It is because Your Spirit, Jesus, doesn't point to this or that or the other thing that is "related to" You. He doesn't point to me and my walk or journey. He doesn't help me understand the scriptures so that I will be a "better" Christian.
Father, it was an absolutely amazing, wonderful, joyful, guilt-relieving, freeing revelation a few short years ago, that I realized that You really do love me. I have reveled in that. I have thought that now that I know and have experienced Your Father love, and have been able to accept my place as Your child, that all will be perfectly awesome forever.
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Trying to find fulfillment in things "related to" Jesus
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I am continually amazed at my ability to be distracted. On multiple occasions I come to an understanding similar to what you have verbalized, that Christ is everything. And then, I catch a vision for something related to my walk and pursuit of Him, and get distracted by that "thing". The more recent example is the concept of "the kingdom". I definitely feel that He has called me, among others, to establish the expression of His Kingdom in my community. It has been easy for me to get focused on "the Kingdom" and temporarily lose sight of the King. Each time my focus comes back to Him, I see more and more His beauty, His awesomeness, His overwhelming majesty and wonder. I need to remember that our fellowship with others, and our work in ministry in His kingdom, must be grounded in our individual and corporate pursuit of Christ. For, as you've pointed out, if we seek community but lack the one we commune in and for, we've "lost the plot" so to speak.
You wrote, "...grounded in our individual and corporate pursuit of Christ."
So true. I believe it is both individual and corporate - and that even one or the other of those can distract us. We live in a highly individualistic society, and I find that too often I become so wrapped up in "my walk" that I lose sight of both Christ and of His body. Other times, I have become so wrapped up in "body work/ church" that I have neglected my personal walk ... and have neglected the One that I - and we - walk with.
Thanks for your post, Mark. You have helped me to see this much more clearly.
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