"Perfect love is a kind of self-dereliction, a wandering out of ourselves..."
Henry Scougal, The Life of God in the Soul of Man
When I read this little thought, my mind and heart stop at the word "self-dereliction." Derelict. A word that calls to mind an old derelict boat, bumping against old rotten pilings in some long-forgotten bay. Which is exactly how much we're to abandon the Self in pursuit of Jesus. Our Self should be lost to us; we can't even quite remember where it was we left it. It's rotting away somewhere while we're off walking in freedom and joy with Jesus, the Christ.
Have you wandered out of yourself? Is your Self left derelict in the bay of the Old Life?
A short thought -
Nehemiah's "the joy of the Lord is your strength" beautifully anticipates Jesus' words in John 15:11 - "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may me made full." It's also one of the greatest, and shortest, sermons you'd ever need to hear, embarking on any sort of day.
May you and I settle for no joy lesser than the joy that animated Jesus' own heart and life. And may that JOY be our only source of strength today!
As The Union prepares to launch in Colorado in the Fall of 2015, here is the heart of the matter...
Only a little while after Jesus speaks to His disciples about the life of Abiding, He spontaneously begins to pray in their hearing. First, for His work at the Cross; then His ongoing work through the disciples; then for them, personally.
And then comes one of the most dramatic moments in all of the Gospels, as Jesus prays His final words before His arrest:
“I am not praying only for these men but for all those who will believe in me through their message..." That's us! That's every single Believer who has sprung up since the birth of the Church! And what does He pray for us? "...that they may all be one." One. A singular Body. But how could that ever be a human possibility? He goes on: "Just as you, Father, live in me and I live in you, I am asking that they may live in us..." Our personal Abiding, our dwelling-in the One who indwells us, is the only path to unity in the Body. And what does that unity accomplish? "...that the world may believe that you did send me." Our Union with Jesus and the fruits of that Abiding prove the reality of Jesus' being sent by the Father. And, in the tragic inverse, if we aren't Abiding in Him, we are daily disproving that He was sent by the Father. Wow!
"I have given them the honor that you gave me, that they may be one, as we are one—I in them and you in me, that they may grow complete into one..." It is impossible for the Body of Christ to disunite while its members all have their eyes on Jesus and, through Him, the Father. As He and the Father are one, so too are all those who daily Abide in Him. And why does our corporate unity matter? "...so that the world may realize that you sent me and have loved them as you loved me." The unity of the Body of Christ proves the reality of Jesus' being sent by the Father. And, in the tragic inverse, our disunity daily disproves that He was sent by the Father to the world around us. Wow!
And how does Jesus end His prayer over us, over our personal lives and over the corporate life of the Church? "Father, I want those whom you have given me to be with me where I am; I want them to see that glory which you have made mine—for you loved me before the world began. Father of goodness and truth, the world has not known you, but I have known you and these men now know that you have sent me. I have made your self known to them and I will continue to do so that the love which you have had for me may be in their hearts—and that I may be there also."
Jesus, the One who measured time by His Cross, Resurrection and Ascension, always lives to live His life in and through us! By His power, and by His Abiding Presence in our individual lives, He is able to unite His Body in His prayed-for unity. Oh, will we abide in Him today, brothers and sisters? Will we play our part that makes the whole one?
From 1 Timothy 4 with notes:
Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit. Bodily fitness has a certain value, but spiritual fitness is essential both for this present life and for the life to come. There is no doubt about this at all, and Christians should remember it. It is because we realize the paramount importance of the spiritual that we labor and struggle. We place our whole confidence in the living God, the savior of all men, and particularly of those who believe in him. These convictions should be the basis of your instruction and teaching.
As we look at the “paramount importance of the spiritual,” how are you and I to stay “spiritually fit”? Well, how do we stay physically fit? If you utilize that wondrous commentary known as the World Wide Web, you’ll find all kinds of helps and theories on the topic of a great workout. One website I found was especially fun, listing these five attributes:
1. Rate of Perceived Exertion
2. Actual Heart Rate
3. Quality over Quantity
4. Muscle Fatigue
5. Increased Hunger
Are you kidding me?! How perfect are those pictures! As we spend time with Jesus, may our “rate of perceived exertion” go down in stepping under His yoke in His strength. May we never leave our time with Him without a marked uptick in heart-rate; pay attention to your emotions, don’t ignore them. May our quantity be overwhelmed by an experience of His quality, His goodness, His palpable Presence. May we exhaust our spiritual energy, letting our spiritual muscles get pulled, worn and fatigued, doing His sort of daily work. And, above all, may our life-in-Him create a hunger that is unending; may more Jesus lead to hunger for more Jesus.
"It is the consciousness of the threefold joy of the Lord, His joy in ransoming us, His joy in dwelling within us as our Savior and Power for fruit-bearing and His joy in possessing us, as His Bride and His delight; it is the consciousness of this joy which is our real strength. Our joy in Him may be a fluctuating thing: His joy in us knows no change."
- Hudson Taylor
For Jesus, there was an inestimable inheritance - the redemption of Creation and mankind; the return to the Victor's throne; the glory of the sanctification of the sons of men - that came at a complete cost - the rigors of walking sinlessly in the flesh; the death that bought our freedom...
For us, we must begin at our inestimable inheritance - access to the Godhead; eternal peace, hope, love and joy; fearlessness before death and judgment; citizenship in Heaven; etc etc - before we can begin to offer our lives at a complete cost. Without delving into what Jesus has already accomplished and all that He lives to give us now, our self-surrender can quickly descend into self-righteous legalism. Yet, too, without a complete offering of our lives, we cannot follow Jesus into the throne-room where He bids us daily for Union with Himself...
Spending ourselves prodigally out of the bottomless well of Kingdom-wealth is the Way; there really is no end to the inestimable inheritance He offers ... at complete cost.
"How I long for you to grow more certain in your knowledge and more sure in your grasp of God himself. May your spiritual experience become richer as you see more and more fully God’s great secret, Christ himself! For it is in him, and in him alone, that men will find all the [hidden] treasures of wisdom and knowledge..." From Colossians 2
A glorious thought! And yet, when you consider its proximity to the ultimate Union text (Col. 1:27), the implications become so glorious that we shouldn't be able to contain ourselves:
"[We] are those to whom God has planned to give a vision of the full wonder and splendor of his secret plan for the sons of men. And the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come..."
The answer to Paul's longing that we might "grow more certain in our knowledge and grasp of God himself" lives within us! The complete richness of "spiritual experience," our viewing of "God's great secret, Christ himself" - yes, He lives within us! "All the [hidden] treasures of wisdom and knowledge," the "full wonder and splendor of his secret plan for the sons of men," are bound up in the person and personality of the One who lives within us!
My friend, you already have everything you need to possess certain knowledge, a sure grasp, a rich spiritual experience, access to God's secret and hidden treasures, full wonder, splendor, the hope of all glorious things to come. It's all yours.
"And the secret is simply this: Christ in you!"
From Luke 9's account of the Feeding of the 5000 with notes:
As the day drew to its close the twelve came to [Jesus] and said, “Please dismiss the crowd now so that they can go to the villages and country round about and find some food and shelter, for we’re quite in the wilds here.” A completely sensible thought.
“You give them something to eat!” returned Jesus. A completely insensible response. (Jesus might as well have winked, saying it!) “But we’ve nothing here,” they replied, “except five loaves and two fish, unless you want us to go and buy food for all this crowd?” You can almost see the disciple who spoke these words sweeping his hand toward the people spread across the meadows and hillsides. There were approximately five thousand men there. Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Get them to sit down in groups of about fifty.”
This they did, making them all sit down. Can you imagine how long this must’ve taken? The twelve fanning out across the crowded hillside, saying, “Yeah, we don’t know what He’s thinking, but He wants you all to sit down.” Incredulous, people start to sit down in the tall grass… Then he took the five loaves and the two fish and looked up to Heaven, blessed them, broke them into pieces and passed them to his disciples to serve to the crowds. You always hear people wondering how this process actually looked. I don’t think even the disciples would’ve been able to tell you! They just kept coming back and there was another basketful to take to the next fifty people in the far northwest quadrant of the crowd... Everybody ate and was satisfied. “Satisfied!” Are we satisfied, O Church? Are you satisfied because of the living Jesus, the eternal Savior the Bread of Life Himself? He is our greatest available earthly and heavenly satisfaction! Afterwards they collected twelve baskets full of broken pieces which were left over. Isn’t it wonderful that all twelve disciples doubted Him at the beginning of this account and now all twelve stand there, holding a full basket of bread? That’s the God we serve! A God of abundance! The God who says, “do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about you body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt. 6)
Today, no matter what the day holds, no matter how crowded is the outlook of our minds, can we simply trust Him, do what He asks, and rest in His glorious goodness? Can we be those "satisfied" with the satisfaction that is ever available to those who Believe?
May it be so!