Those ‘Marginal’ People

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“Light shines in the darkness for the godly.
    They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.”

Psalm 112:4, NLT

The Glory of Jesus lies in this: in weakness, vulnerability, and apparent failure. He has called forth disciples to come after Him, willing and able to carry the cross and relive His passion with compassion.

They are marginal people, not part of the scene, irrelevant to the “action.” In their ministry or quiet presence they do not need to win or compete. They may even look like losers, even if its just to themselves.

The world ignores them. But they are building “the Kingdom of God” on earth by reaching out in vulnerability and weakness to share the suffering of their brothers. They work by love rather than continue in sin.

Where the compassionate One is, there will His servants be.”

 

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Manning-devo-coverBrennan Manning, “Reflections for Ragamuffins.” From an entry dated June 27th. From “A Stranger to Self Hatred,” by Brennan Manning. Copyright @ 1982 by Brennan Manning, reprinted by permission of Dimension Books, Inc.

Amazon ordering link: http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Ragamuffins-Devotions-Writings-Brennan/dp/0060654570/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340915707&sr=8-1&keywords=reflections+for+ragamuffins

Suffering: Finding Some Reasons

suffering1“Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.”

Hebrews 2:18, (NLT)

“Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered; been limited, gone through things for the Lord, willing to be imprisoned by the Lord, just being satisfied with Him and nothing else, immediately you scent the fragrance. There is a savor of the Lord. Something has been crushed, something has been broken, and there is a resulting odor of sweetness.”

  Watchman Nee

I remember a time many years ago when I felt like I had a ‘charmed’ life. I had no issues, few problems– life was smooth, there was no ‘roughness.’ I felt like I was God’s favorite, His ‘golden boy.’ I should have known it wouldn’t last :-).

Suffering in the scriptures is often linked with the concept of endurance. Often within the selected verse the writer weaves into it this idea. I believe that to endure something transforms it to good. Believers will suffer, but the issues get transformed into something quite beautiful, if, we add the ingredient of patient endurance.

“We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.”

James 5:11

In many ways, suffering is a tutor teaching us the foreign dialect of the Kingdom. If done under the kind direction of the Holy Spirit, it can give us a working knowledge of patience, endurance and joy. We must learn to speak in another language. A suffering believer will find a new vocabulary in pain that allows him to speak with understanding to those who are also in pain.

I spent several years studying Spanish. Even though I wasn’t really fluent, I discovered it opened a whole new world; being bilingual created new opportunities that I’d never even knew existed. I believe that suffering works under this same principle.

light-end-tunnelDo you speak the language? Can you communicate with love to those who hurt? Learning it can transform you to a person that can speak authoritatively to a wide swath of people. Having had to handle your own pain gives you the privilege of interpreting God’s love into pain and hurt.

From our own hurt (through endurance and joy) we can help others. I can always tell a fellow-sufferer. They are typically gentle and loving people, devoid of pride and control. These are the ones who have learned to speak the idiom of the Kingdom of God.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us… We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:4, 8-9

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Exulting in Our Shadow

 

So that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”

Acts 5:15-16, ESV

 

Astonishing!  It was Peter, who denied the Lord—three distinct and definite times. Since we are moving past Good Friday and our celebration of Easter, so we should rest for a moment and consider Peter, and think about this “rascal.”  He really isn’t magical, or a “miracle worker,” Peter, quite precisely is a definite loser.  The best you can say is that he is a displaced and “has-been”  fisherman, who hasn’t really got a good track-record.  He tries hard, but he always muddles it up.  He falls very short.

Peter’s shadow reveals the power of unconscious influence.  His shadow wasn’t magical or possessed a healing virtue.  In a deep sense we all influence people around us–for good, or for evil.  Our imprint on others is quite significant.  Our impact is quite noticable.  Watchman Nee in his book, “Release of the Spirit.”  Nee compared our influence to the “ring” we leave in the bathtub.  Everyone leaves his mark.  Looking at that we can understand (to a degree) what that particular person is really like.  But the reality is, we all leave behind some scum.

J.R. Miller relates this thought.  “There is a legend of a good man for whom was asked some new power. He chose that he might do a great deal of good and might not be aware of it. So it was ordered that when his shadow fell behind him, where he could not see it, it should have healing power, but when it fell before him, so that he could see it, it should have no such effect.”

We need to view this thing closer.  How exactly do we influence others?  What manner of people are we to acheive such attention?  Do we really deserve “the praise of men?”  Do we go as far as to exult  in our shadows?  If we really want to powerfully affect others, we have to be humble, perhaps even dismissive of the good that may follow behind us.  (It doesn’t belong to us.”)   When we become really conscious of our significance or sway, we are in mortal danger and risk spoiling everything.

The kingdom is not big enough for Jesus, and than us–who takes over the center stage?  There is a disturbing assumption that we are most significant.  We stack-up our blocks and create a facade of being quite exceptional people.  The reality is this–we are all very much like Peter, our lives belie what is truly real.  But our authenticity really is found in the “blood of Jesus,”  which covers our wickedness.  That dear one, is our “claim to fame.”  Essentially, due to the proportion of our pride, determines the glory that the Lord receives.  We often eliminate him from our consideration.  Your pride determines His glory, plain and simple.  So step up, who goes next?