What Are the Treasures of the Church?

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An Archbishop was given an ultimatum by the Huns who surrounded his cathedral. “You have 24 hours to bring your wealth to these steps”, the war-leader declared. The next morning the Archbishop came out leading the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lunatics. “Where is your treasure? Why have you brought out these, people?” The Archbishop said this, “These are the treasures of the Church— these who are weak are our valuables. They make us rich.”

As Christians often our theology tells us that mental illness: ADHD,  depression, and bipolar disorder have no place in the believer’s life. Physical illnesses like fibromyalgia, migraines, diabetes and epilepsy are denied. So we hide, sneaking into our sessions with our therapists, and our doctors appointments. We change the subject to minimize our exposure to direct questions. The pressure to hide is very strong.

But I would suggest to you that it is perhaps we who are closest to the Kingdom of God. It is far easier for us to approach the Father, in our brokenness, humility, and lostness, than whole people can. We have needs; a sound mind, a healthy body and we know it. We have no illusions of wellness, nothing can convince us that we are well. We are not. We are broken and only our loving creator can mend us.

You might say that the Church needs us.

But I am afraid the the Western Church no longer sees its “treasures” like it should. In our pride and self-centeredness we have operated our churches like successful businesses. We value giftedness more than weakness. We definitely have no room for the desperately sick or weak. Maybe it’s time for the Church to begin to act like Jesus?

Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church should be a verb.  Church is who you are. Church is the human out working of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.

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Let Him Take All

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matt. 22:37-39

Love is the ultimate response God is looking for from us.  It is the currency of Heaven.  The Kingdom’s economy is ‘the gold standard’ of love.  It’s the way business gets done in eternity.  Love! Without love ruling our lives now, we will arrive there as paupers and beggars. We will disobey Jesus.

God is our primary target to love.  And the quality of it can be appreciated from its ‘source point’.  Heart.  Soul.  Mind.  These are the starting places for our affection.  The caliber of our worship is summed up by the word, “all.”  That word has a totality, and a significance to it.  It further intensifies love to the only acceptable place. Love indeed is the perfect “make-up.” We’re never more beautiful then when we love God or another person.

As disciples who are indeed flawed and broken, we can still find a place where we can minister from.  I can’t do a lot anymore, but I can love.  Loving God is something I can do, even with my issues. I can always love. I can always give my all, my heart to someone else. I can always love!

And actually, this disability strips my discipleship to a simpler and basic level.  At the “lowest common denominator”  my faith is still valid and vital.  I love Jesus, even when I can’t be a senior pastor  or teach at my Bible School anymore. I accept this. I can even rejoice in this new “inadequacy.”

Loving Him and following Him can be done, even with a limp.

Several years ago I sat waiting for my bus at King’s Cross in London, England.  I was all alone, and felt it. There was a strong sense of brokenness and I was aware of my disability.  I was coming a bit unglued by the enormity of my mental illness. I sat staring at the floor just in front of me.  I could do nothing else.

But  in my field of vision, just in front of me, hopped a bird with a crippled foot.  Something had damaged him.  The thing that profoundly spoke to me was that bird was not at all devastated, not at all.  And the Lord spoke to me about that bird, and His comfort pumped through my veins.  I felt I was right where I was supposed to be.  I had become the ‘broken’ sparrow, and I could still follow. Maybe, even better now, because of my ‘limp’.

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Working in the Time of Grace

Working in a Time of Grace

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‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 

Matt. 20:12, NIV

 

Matthew 20 often irritates us.  People are working the entire day, and along comes people who have only worked for one hour.  This discrepancy drives the believer nuts.  How in the world could such a thing take place?  It is foolishness to us who insist on a grace of appropriateness.  We want grace to be fair, recognizing the person who has worked very hard.

The problem is that God is outrageous with His grace and love.  He completely expands us to a point where we must embrace a grace that is completely beyond us.  We have to break down and accept what is available to us.  Grace completely dumps us upside down.  We can only proceed if we accept His definition of Grace.

Those who have labored the least are made equal to those who work the hardest.  This seems incredibly unfair and we revolt against such extravagance.  It strikes us as outrageously unfair.  How can those who worked only an hour receive the exact same amount as those who have labored a full eight?

The miracle of  this shockingly outrageous grace is that we are confronted by a profound freedom.  We basically get brought to the point where we get stripped of these illusions and need to walk out the scripture.  It has the tendency to eliminate the issues that could block us and bring us to a most receptive position.

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:13-16

We must admit that God’s grace reaches out to everyone. 

That He has the deep, deep desire to see that each of us connect with His love.  This is indeed the radicalness of the gospel.  It is outrageous and astonishing.  That He would love us who have hated Him.  Our sense of equity is completely undone.  His grace completely turns us upside down. I think that is a good thing.

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Living Incandescently

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“7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7, NLT

Sometimes my mental illness interferes with “living in the light.” I can get surly and sullen.I avoid people and I think I complain a lot. I’ve also become the master of manic highs and ‘snake belly’ lows, and I’m not fun to be around. But I do wish to be different, I really do want to live in the light.


 

First: When I do so, I have a special connection with the Lord (He is in the light) and that is the ultimate goal. But light is the vital common denominator. I can’t continue in darkness and fellowship with Him while I entertain any darkness. He doesn’t work that way. I’m supposed to live in the same lighr as He.

“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”

Psalm 56:13


Second: When I walk in the light, I will have be able to have open fellowship with my brothers and sisters. This is to me almost as precious as having fellowship with Lord. That “fellowship” (trans. koinonia) describes a mutual sharing, or harmonizing with each other. Almost like a concert with the musical instruments making a pleasant melody with each other. Some are pianos, some are oboes, flutes, trumpets or tubas, etc.We are His orchestra.

We come together in koinonia and beautiful things happen.There is a special sound I hear when I’m in koinonia with my brothers and sisters who love Jesus. It’s a healing sound, and very real to me. I hear it especially when they fellowship with each other.


 

Third: When I’m living in the light I am cleansed from my sin by Jesus’ blood. The cleansing is certain by faith, The word “cleanses’ is present tense, He is always cleaning me up. “All sin” reveal the entire scope of His work. I rejoice in this and it gives me confidence in the Lord.

This verse, 1 John 1:7 clarifies things for us, and gives us insight into God’s us the importance of walking in the light of the Lord. It reinforces the fellowship of the saints. And to top it all off, it describes the blood of Jesus being actively applied to my many sins.

“Father, I desperately want to take possession of this Word. Enable me by your Holy Spirit to do this for your glory. Amen.”

 

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