I have displayed thy name among those whom you have chosen out of the world for me: thine they were, and you gave them me; and they have kept thy word. (John 17:6 Mace)
Jay Ferris was a friend of mine that died of cancer a little over two years ago and he is missed by hundreds of people. Why? Because he knew and lived in relationships with people and if they were not believers, after getting to know Jay (or should I say, Christ in Jay), many soon came to Christ. What made Jay different than most Christian leaders was that he believed that Christ came to establish the kingdom of God as a family, not an institution. In one of his blogs Jay wrote,
“Suppose this is not about generic relationships, but about very specific relationships and purposes in God having their origins in and by Him. These are relationships so full of the passion and purposes of Christ, and not some kind of human decisions. Relationships in Christ are not generic, they are born of Him for His purposes, and not as mere religious toys.”(http://lovinglikegod.com/2013/04/10/things-that-cant-be-told/)
I have come to believe that most of what we see in Christendom is composed of “generic relationships.” You know, the “meet, eat and retreat” kind where God hears from us and we see each other once a week and we call it good. The kind of relationships that God wants are the ones in which we become totally ONE with the Father and the Son. Then we through this same level of intimacy as members of Christ’s body can come to know one another with the same level of intimacy (see John 17:20-26). You cannot contemplate a human body without seeing the intimacy and relationships that each individual member of that body has with the others. If a limb or organ is missing then the whole body goes out of whack. Christ is our Head and there is no other intermediary between the members of His body and Himself. It is interesting to me that the pituitary or “master” gland is located in our heads at the base of the brain. In like manner Christ is the one that brings the rest of the body into harmony as it answers to Him (See 1 Cor. Ch. 12).
It is because of this intimate relationship to the Head that we also can have intimate relationships with each other and the kind of relationships I am speaking of are not maintained only on one hour a week in a crowded hall in which everything is orchestrated by a man and his idea of what should happen. Professional clergy need not apply, but if they want to come down in the trenches and get real with the rest of His body, they are welcome and can become a viable member of Christ’s body once again. As Jesus put it, “Now you may not be called ‘Rabbi,’ for One is your Teacher, yet you all are brethren” (Matthew 23:8 CLV – emphsis added).
As members of Christ’s body, I believe that God puts us with certain individuals in Christ by His design and not our own and He does this for HIS purposes. He is using those to whom He has given His Spirit to paint a wonderful mosaic of His Son… Jesus Christ living and breathing here on earth. As in a mosaic, some pieces touch other pieces and some don’t. God puts our piece next to the one that will compliment the whole image He is making. We all have tried to put ourselves together with other saints at times and have seen it end as a dismal failure. But when GOD assembles us as HE wills, something special and lasting happens.
I think of Jonathan and David who had a love for one another that was better than that of a woman (see 1 Sam. 1:26). Paul and Timothy had a special father-son type relationship in Christ. Then there was John and Jesus where we find John in the gospels so in love with Jesus that he reclined at the last supper with his head on Jesus’ breast. He was “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” the one that stayed with Him throughout His ordeal on the cross and was the one who went on to write about the love of God over and over in His gospel and letters and He knew this love first hand with God’s Son and the members of His body.
You see, to have special relationships with other members of Christ’s body it requires intimacy, the very thing that most church people fear. Yes, love is risky and being cold and distant to others is “safe.” But the love of God compels those who have pressed into Christ to become close to the ones He puts us with regardless of the personal cost.
Jay also wrote in another blog about what he called “foxhole love.”
Today, I want to address the matter of Spiritual intimacy in another place and with another word picture, a “Foxhole.” I am not speaking of a fox hole in the way that Jesus referred to it, but spiritual intimacy surrounded by warfare.
A pond suggests a tranquil place where the war is over, and a foxhole suggests the reality of the war in and around intimate spiritual relationship. On the one hand we are surrounded by the war around the foxhole, and on the other, we become more and more aware of the inner war going on inside of each another. In the foxhole of intimate relationship there is a war going on against our staying in that place of intimacy. The war gets more intense the deeper into the hole we go.
The only way for the intimacy of relationship to survive in such an environment is to know God’s kind of love, the kind that is good for enemies, both perceived and real. The lovers in a foxhole have to rest in the knowledge that they are secure in one another’s love… The intimacy we are talking about is not delusional. It is made possible and energized by a Love that is so great it covers a multitude of sins.
This post has to do with sharing the lessons of Life, (He is The Life.) especially with those who are in the foxhole of love with us. Perhaps this is what Paul was thinking about when he prayed “… that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 (http://lovinglikegod.com/2012/12/27/the-truth-hurts-at-least-in-the-beginning/)
“Father, do what you have to do to strip us of our self-centered mindsets and agendas and fill us with your love for you and for one another. Let us then be placed with the members of Christ’s body you have destined us to be joined to and let your love flow between us as a sign that it is your doing, and out of that love let us bring forth YOUR eternal fruit. Amen.”