move forward where you are with what you’ve got (but remember, it’s all grace)

Whether you’re young or old, it’s important to make the most out of life, not for yourself, but for others. But as we bless others, we ourselves are blessed (Proverbs 11:25).

One of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever heard was Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s telling of Michael Faraday’s life. And how Faraday’s biggest breakthrough discovery was after sustaining a most significant head injury. We can think all or much is largely lost due to this or that ranging from lack of or actual lost opportunities. Even failure. But we need to grab what God gives us and remain and move forward in that.

And in Jesus we know it’s all grace. God gives us grace, all we need to carry on through thick and thin, come what may. In and through Jesus.

a truly Christ-centered life is for others

…in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3b-4

We’re naturally centered in ourselves. That’s understandable. From birth, while babies hopefully bond with their mothers and fathers, they understandably live an existence within themselves, completely dependent on others to take care of their needs, and it’s a need centered existence. Hopefully with healthy bonding, growth beyond “just me” begins.

But too often in our sin and brokenness our existence is all about us, and our world revolves around what we want, and anything other than that we simply put up with, or try to make it somehow satisfy us.

Christ exemplified something completely different. In becoming one of us, even made, so partaking of our lowly humanity, Christ chose to live not only where we live, but completely in our existence. Becoming human was the way for God to reveal himself in the most personal, intimate way, again both right where we live and in our very experience.

Christ took on himself the nature of a servant being made human. He willingly out of love for us and the Father took the lowest place of slave. And then stooped to the lowest depths in the death of the cross. Our attitude toward each other is to be the same.

So often when we’re engaged in life it’s really centered on us. We make it about us. To Christ it was about others. In a conversation we enter in with our corroborating experience, or maybe so we think. But it then becomes about us. And often people trade off back and forth that way. That actually can be okay if at the same time we’re fully engaged in what the other is saying about themselves. And it’s good if we can just listen and let them talk on, and then maybe offer something from our own experience which might help them in some way.

But the point of this great passage and Christ hymn is that we’re to live with each other in the same way Christ lived with us.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

 

living in a broken world

I accept evolution, while accepting the Genesis account at the same time. I believe death was in the original creation, for example a literal Adam and Eve had to eat vegetation, which meant the vegetation had to die. Humanity’s sin resulted in the certain death which stalks and overtakes us all, and is in the end destroyed in and through Christ. I believe the story in Genesis is an account of God’s ultimate intention in creation to be fulfilled only in Christ, and not an idyllic past. Adam and Eve needed to partake of the tree of life in order to live forever, so they are not created immortal in the story, I take it. And so the teaching of a fall is accurate in that humankind disobeyed God and is therefore subject to the pain that Adam and Eve end up being subject to in the story.

We live in a broken world. Time and time again that world confronts us, a wonderful world, and yet destined to come to an end, except for the Creator’s promise of a new creation in the redemption of this very same world in and through Jesus.

And I need to accept the problems that hit us which may not hit others, because that can make me a player in seeking to resolve those problems. “Out of sight, out of mind.” We all have our set of issues and concerns that are in our face, our problems as it were, along with the ideals in Jesus (for us as followers of Jesus) we want to live by. We need to ask God if we are present and so pressed “for such a time as this,” be it in supposedly small ways. And then in and out of prayer, act accordingly.

I tend to want to escape, or wish upon wish that I had avoided any such problem which I see as threatening to others, as well as to myself. Instead I need to accept where I am for whatever reason, including the possibility that I may be reaping something of what I have sowed, or failing to reap what I haven’t sowed in the past. Because of prayerlessness, or any other sin. And yet God is at work for good in all things for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. And that purpose is to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus, which involves a life that is not for ourselves, but for others. In the way of Jesus.

And so with these words, I look to the Lord and his strength. I seek his face, I hope more continually. As I go on with others in Jesus together for the world.