Christian Model

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves.

It you really want to see Christianity in action, here is your verse. Christians are supposed to put the needs of others ahead of their own. We are supposed to consider others as more important than ourselves. That is what Jesus did. He sacrificed his wants and needs for the rest of us. He didn’t want to be crucified. He didn’t want to die. He gave himself for us.
We see this in others. I cannot help but think of all the doctors, nurses and other health care workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way to care for us. I think of the military. Military personnel routinely put the needs and concerns of others before their own desires and needs, even putting their lives on the line. Firefighters, law enforcement and many others daily put our needs above their own safety. They forego time with their families so that we can be safe. I am sure some of them would love to be in lockdown with their families for a few weeks. Meanwhile, some of us complain about these measures. I think it is an insult to the people who are daily sacrificing for us.

This is the hard work of Christianity and I do not make light of it. It is human nature to think of oneself, but because of Christ and his sacrifice, we no longer have to operate at a mere human nature level. We have been given the grace of God. When Paul was faced with a personal challenge, Father God told him that His grace was sufficient to meet the need (2 Corinthians 12: 9). That is how Paul learned this important lesson so that he could convey it to us.

The reason I am writing this series on the Christian Model is so that you can protect and inform yourself regarding others. The verses I have sent this week and last present the model of Christianity and so by using them, we can inform ourselves of a person’s, or an organization’s, true intent. Jesus began this dialogue by informing us that wolves would present themselves to us disguised as sheep. We need tools to unmask them and it is precisely that which I have sent to you so that you can protect yourself and your family.

Today’s verse is in that same vein, but I find it turning the corner too. It begins to turn around and face me, challenging my own ethic. Am I the Christian I purport to be? Am I worthy of bearing Christ’s name? Maybe not, but this verse shows me the way. It is as clear a roadmap as one could require. If you critique yourself in light of this verse, I pray you fare well. However, we all can improve here so please, do not beat yourself up. This is an area the whole church should be growing in.

In conclusion, as you evaluate yourself don’t forget that this verse is important in the Christian model for dividing the wolves from the sheep. While we all may be self-interested to a greater or lesser degree, those who are self-important and who serve self rather than others are revealing their wolfish features. Beware these ravenous wolves for they will rend you if ever there is a choice between you and them. Learn to discern who is serving their interests rather than the interests of the whole or of others.

I believe this has been an important series, especially in this time of great challenge. All over the world people are dealing with abnormal levels of stress and need to know whom they can trust. We must be the church, the lovers of humanity. We must be Christ’s hands in this generation. There has never been a time when we have been more needed. Arise my beautiful Christian brothers and sisters and let the love of Christ be seen, felt, heard and witnessed the world over. Those of you outside the United States, though we are rooted over here, we don’t forget you for one moment. Our love and prayers are for you and your countries. May our dear Father bless you all.

Poured Out

Psalm 38: 9 – 10

Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart throbs, my strength fails me; and the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me.

I am moved by David’s passion and how he lays his heart out before the lord. Is this something we do? Is this something I do?

When I am under stress, I turn into a turtle. I withdraw into my shell and hold everything inside. We all know, at least intellectually, that this is not good, not healthy, and completely non-productive. David had a better system. He poured out his heart to God, his beloved, his father. He emptied himself of every thought without judgment. He just said was he was thinking and what he was feeling without restriction or prejudice.

I know there are many things that we think and feel that we also know are completely invalid. We don’t want to say them because we know they are ludicrous. There is some sense in that but that mature, logical theory does not apply here. When we talk with our Father, we need to feel free to pour ourselves out as David did. You can be as irresponsible as a child and say everything you think, express every emotion you feel. It is His job to pick you up and put your feet back on the right track. We get so busy being grown-up with our stoic faces and stiff back that we functionally shut out our Father and His healing touch. We never let Him rescue us much less touch our broken hearts because we won’t allow ourselves to be completely open to Him. It is as if it is against the rules to let down our guard for even a moment.

We really need to learn that we can run into the shelter of the most high where there is no need for our guard, where we can exhale fully and let ourselves feel the depth and richness of human emotion. God is passionate, you know that right? And we are made in His image. He did not create us to be stiff upper lip, intransigent robots.

God said that David was a man after His own heart. We can meditate on that statement for days, weeks, even years. What was it about David that moved God’s heart? Why is it that we don’t find God saying of David that he stirred His imagination or made Him think? In other words, God reveals that David wasn’t a child of His soul or His mind. I am sure that David and God had great thoughts together. Of course they shared great images from their imagination. Yet when God described David, He reveals him as part of His own heart. David lived in the center of God’s being and I am sure that, to this day, David lives to sing his lovely songs to the Father and they share great joy together. However, when David lived on earth he shared all he thought and all he felt with the love of his heart, his first love, God the Father; Lord and King but Father above all.

Or should I say parent because Yahweh is both Mother and Father. He is One, the One. He is not segregated into Mother and Father but is both. All in all, all in one. He is everything we need. It is just an unfortunate result of language and our humanness that we have gender specific pronouns. Yahweh is as female as male so when you need a trait that we on earth define as feminine have no reservation for that which we need abides in our beloved in richness and fullness. H/she is all the compassion you need and has the answers to every hurt and every problem. We can, therefore, trust in an unhindered fashion. We can, and should, pour out our hearts which are full of fear, frustration, anger, worry, and anxiety. And when we pour it out to our God and Father, then we are no longer full of those negative emotions. We can safely give them to “Him”, and He will give us back the reassurance and confidence we need. The truth of that statement is readily detectable as you read the songs of David.

David’s psalms often begin with expressions of anguish. Sometimes all but the very end is full of the suffering, anger and torment of his situation but always, by the end of the psalm, God has restored him. In the end of every calamitous event is the resurrection of Jesus and the lifting of our own heads.

Here is the morale of the story – God cannot lift our heads if we are stiff necked and proud. It is when we bow our heads that we allow Him to be God. When we pour our guts out on the floor before Him, He can lift us up. Remember, it is in our weakness that we are strong for God teaches us, “My power is strongest when you are weak,” (2 Corinthians 12: 9). The revelation of that statement caused Paul to write, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12: 10). In other words, we can never put on His strength if we never abandon our own. Ours is just a shadow anyway. It is just a projected image of the true strength which is in our Dad.

God makes a trade with us, taking our misery and giving us His glory. Isaiah 61: 3 foretells this as Jesus’ calling, his ministry, “Giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.” We take our sadness, sorrow and misery, all of our challenges and frustrations to the Father and He trades with us giving us all of His goodness. He freely offers to trade happiness and joy for our sadness and grief.

So, be like David. Pour out your heart to God. Purge yourself of those toxic emotions and receive back joy unspeakable.