7 points of Separation
This is a message that has some harsh points but they are good. There is a lot going on in the world but there is so much opportunity for growth and it’s something we all need to consider. The chance to go deeper and to bee in a more mature place with God is golden.
Trust God. It’s the center of the whole Christian faith. We say it we know it but do we do it? The answer is complex. We each seem to have places where we trust him to a point where we don’t really worry or even think about it. Most of us know we might not see tomorrow but we trust God and don’t really think about it. We keep planning and stocking up for this future event or that. We save money for vacations, get new wardrobes for coming seasons, we study for future career opportunities and even Chang our life styles so we can look how we want at future events. It’s just life. The things going on tomorrow still need preparation if it happens we ourselves don’t make it there.
The fragility and finite nature of life is always present. In the middle of a global pandemic however we are sort of rudely woken from the dream life wherein we don’t have to acknowledge just how fragile life can be. It is a very sobering thing that brings us back to a much more active or “hands on” faith.
In the panic, we can’t neglect the quality of our faith. In our previous world we delighted plans and backup plans. We felt quite prepared, if this didn’t work then we had other means maybe even several other ways to accomplish the same goal or parts of it. In the end having the idea that we were in control.
Clearly we are not.
Not only are we seeing just how much we aren’t in control we are also finding there isn’t anywhere but God to turn to. We are in free fall.
Our faith has to rise to that occasion and it’s a very tough process. We want to shy away from things that give us constant reason to panic. When the storm comes we are waiting for it to stop. We have the faith that God will get us through at the beginning but before long we are a little less sure. Why is the storm lasting so long? Why is there a storm at all? We start to look outside of God for comfort.
I know God says he will get me through it but let me look to other examples, to other people, to the world around me for things that can help reinforce this idea that I will, in fact be okay. It’s like our faith back up plan.
We can’t talk about trusting God and then go to the news and to the statistics and the models and the predictions to back up our trust. That’s the opposite of trust as a matter of fact. Gods telling us that we need to start living like this, HIM plus NOTHING! You need to take you’re fear captive and be bold in Christ.
Does Jesus need a co-signer?
Do we not speak, almost continually about how the Lord is our everything? To say the word everything literally means that there is nothing more. You can’t add to everything cause it means there is nothing left over to add.
I remember having a vision a couple years back. The vision was of Jesus and his words were to embrace him like a child does a parent.
A scared child hugs their parent completely burying their face in their parent as they wrap their arms around them. They are so fully engulfed in this hug that they can’t really even see anything around them. All they see if their parent. And that is enough. That is the comfort they wanted. They didn’t want the parent to show them the scary things they didn’t want to see anything besides their parent at all.
We need to hold on to Jesus but do so in a manner that fully obscured your need for outside influence. When Jesus called Peter our upon the water he didn’t say look at how the water won’t take you under if you have faith, he said keep your eyes on me.
we have all been hit with the realization that society as a whole is not the buffer or the protector we thought it was. Even those who live holy lives, looking out on the world from the safety of their homes and churches are having those things challenged.
We look to government to handle curtain things for us. We expect to go to a doctor or hospital when we’re sick and to a store or restaurant when we’re hungry. We expect to be able to get up on a Sunday morning and go to church and see our friends and our pastor for help guidance and comfort, We expect to go to work and ultimately we expect for society to, for the most part, march on. This hasn’t been the case though.
From the outset of this global event we have been told and shown time and again that any one of these things aren’t holding up as we expected. Companies are closing, our jobs are going away. Doctors and hospitals, even medicines aren’t available, we can’t go to restaurants, when we go to the store we may or may not find what we want and we can’t go to church. Our friends and pastors are themselves isolated and in some cases worried and disconnected. There isn’t a person that’s available to get you back on track spiritually.
We are coming apart at the seems but is this a bad thing? God created us to be communal creatures. The church, society just people living with and helping people is part of his design. When Jesus started his ministry his first step was to gather a team. He didn’t need to do so but he was displaying Gods design for community. Ultimately however the community sometimes replaces the center piece for which that community exists.
When you follow the life of all the great figures of faith from the Bible you see that they have defined times of both community and solitude. Part of what puts them in position to have such great experiences with God is that they are dependent on him and not the situation. Their faith is the same when they’re alone or with others, it’s the same when they’re doing well or poorly, when their doing good things or failing they are in all instances fully dependent on him and God can do amazing things with that.
The prophet Elijah has faith so powerful God Rained down fire from heaven in the presence of thousands of people, most of whom wanted to kill him but when alone he spoke to God with such clarity you’d have thought they were just two people talking. In all instances he was reliant upon God alone.
Being prudent and making plans is how we live, say what you will however this is a fact. We are familiar with scriptures that tell us not to be so confident about tomorrow and in our future endeavour because it is Gods will whether or not we see tomorrow and that is of course true however its also important to realize that anything that happens tomorrow should you make there, is dependent upon today’s plans. Tomorrows rent doesn’t get paid with out today’s work and today’s pay. Tomorrows crops cant be harvested without today’s planting. We cant do nothing and expect results tomorrow but we also cant make our lives about the plans. Tomorrows rent is paid with today’s work and pay but that money yesterday today and tomorrow is God’s. That provision that opportunity was and always was Gods.
9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
We aren’t in control and we cant out smart God or our smart the circumstances. We use the analogy of the storm often in Christianity. The storm representing any hardship or trial that comes our way. None of the concepts from which we get that imagery from suggest that the storm is avoided by our prudent planning. There is no story in the bible about how a christian wisely planed a vacation and was out of town when the trials came to his or her neck of the woods. No! All the accounts of trials in the bible had to do with the fact that they couldn’t be avoided but that getting caught in the storm wasn’t the end of the world. The storm was itself an opportunity to witness God in action. It can be hard to be separated from the idea that you are not capable of diverting the storm. We can not out smart the storm we can not avoid the storm on our own. We are not in control and that, hard as it may be is actually a wonderful thing.
After all of the previous sections this one is sort of obvious but, if were being honest, its the hardest one to do and to even identify. We all rely on ourselves. We rely on our own abilities to assess the situation and make choices. We are ready and aware that the consequences of our good and bad choices rest with us but of course that’s how we live. Everything we do is a choice and so as life goes on we get better and better at relying on ourselves. We believe we know ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses and though we seem to be bias toward ourselves we are also our own harshest judge. All the while however everything we do begins and ends with us.
How do we separate from self? What does that even mean?
We explore these ideas when we talk about fasting. The idea behind fasting is many fold, specifically the idea of putting God before even yourself has so much power. We are obviously connected to ourselves. We are immediately aware of every need and feeling our bodies have and of course we are always at work to satisfy those needs.
When we are hungry we get right up and go find food, thirsty we go get water, if were lonely we go find a friend of family member, if were board we go looking for entertainment. Pretty much our whole lives are spent seeking out something that is for us to satisfy one of our many and endless needs but when we ignore those needs in favor of God. Like in a fast where we ignore that our bodies are hungry and instead use that time for God then we are in that moment separating from self.
Why would we do that? Whats the advantage of separating from self? Everyone (for the most part is aware) we are just as unreliable as anyone else can be. Harsh? Yes! True? Also yes!
We are human and we get scared we get distracted we can be selfish. We don’t always act even in our own best interests for all sorts of reasons. As varied as those reasons can be they are all based around our human nature. In other words they are all about us. To make this easier or to get more out of it, to get a better reward or simply cause we don’t want t, no matter what it is its a matter of us. So if we can be mature and recognize that we are unreliable, just like every other point in this commentary. Unreliable as society, as preparation, as our best laid plans, as the economy, and anything else, then we are left with one option and that one option is the right one. That option is God.
God doesn’t falter, he isn’t lazy he doesn’t get tired he doesn’t find something better to do, he doesn’t ignore you cause you aren’t enough fun or interesting enough, he wont leave you because yo don’t make enough money or aren’t clever enough and he wont even stop talking to you because any one of the character flaws or personal weaknesses discussed in this commentary either.
2 Corinthians 5:8
8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
When we separate ourselves, from ourselves we are closer to God. When we aren’t on the run trying to appease our flesh then we have nothing else in between us and him.
When we ask God to take us deep this is what we mean. We may not know it but it is the essence of maturity. We have all heard the phase “pressure makes diamonds” now we are living it. The words and the events all around us are the pressure and our faith is what is being squeezed. We are all on the cusp of that diamond moment. We can leave all these things behind and come out of this truly relying on God having separated ourselves from all the other things we didn’t realize we had been leaning on.
Its not east and you know what its not meant to be. If it was easy we’d miss the value. We have to struggle and wrestle, we have to seek and find and even do battle for the things we learn cause if we don’t we wont know their value and we wont treat those lessons with the appropriate reverence.
I can’t even counts the amount of times I have been in a church service where the prayer for and from the congregation was “help us be closer to you lord”. This prayer has been answered. There is no more interference accept those obstacles we have placed in our own ways. God has given us the space and the time to really connect with him.
As for me I am running toward him, through fear, through pain, through anxiety, through the storm. I am on my way.
so many have gone crazy, honestly some didn’t wait for a global event to do so. “Prepping” is a popular word that pertains to people stocking up for end times. This doesn’t normally impact anyone but in times like these, buying loads of supplies now really just creates shortages for the rest of us.
The Bible tells us to be wise and cautious and to be good stewards. This means to use the supplies we have wisely but having a garage full of canned beans while other people go hungry isn’t really a good example of that.
What we have seen is that between people and stores we can’t rely upon the world to supply us with what we need or even worse when we think we’re so well supplied that we need not worry for ourselves sir others we are fully disconnected from God. The Bible says that God supplies our needs. There’s a scripture that comes to mind , There’s a parable being told in Luke chapter 12 starting at verse 13 about a person who is having a great time. Everything he has done is successful and he has such an abundance of provision, food water, livestock, crops he has all he needs and more and so he says that he will need to tear down how barn and build an even bigger one to hold all his wealth. The final verse of this story is this
20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
All that preparation all that excess and this man was destined to die that very night, Our provision can not save us from what has been laid out by God for us.
We can make for ourselves a hiding place out of almost anything. Its sort of like the story of the three little pigs. There are houses made of straw and ones of brick. We make ourselves houses of straw and when that wolf comes he blows them right down.
We focus on relationships, our marriages, our friends, our children even our christian and church friends and non of these relationships are bad but we cultivate within ourselves a mindset where when things get crazy we seek our those people first for comfort.
We might even hop from person to person. Seeking your spouse then friends then kids then pastor and so on and so on. When one person isn’t comforting then you move on to the next. Or maybe we even hunker down and focus on that person anyway as a distraction from the circumstances at hand. We will do all these things first before we ever look to God.
is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
God cant be our shelter if hes 5th on the list of things we do when trouble comes around. We can request peace from him in the moments in between and then run to people to make us feel better. If it rained we don’t grab random objects to put over our heads to block the rain, we grab the umbrella, we grab it first because it is the best at blocking rain. God is our refuge and shelter he is the best for protecting us from trouble. We have to separate from the urge to seek out others for our comfort.
In the middle of a crisis such as this current pandemic, its really easy to go online and post a scripture about how solid you a4re in faith, about how sure you are that God will protect you and keep you safe but then follow that action by checking the news and checking the stats and looking at other peoples posts and articles to create sort of a probability concept for just how safe you really are.
This doesn’t mean we don’t need to be aware of whats happening, we need to know whats going on we need to pray for people and we can do so much more effectively when we know just what they need. But the issue comes when we use these statistics and these constructs as a crutch. We profess Gods name but we lean on the world for the comfort. We say God is my shelter, my healer, my protector, my savior but then we look at the infection stats and maps and read the articles and when we see that the worst things aren’t happening nearby then is when we take that breath of relief.
in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
each separation being discussed in this commentary as a whole has much in common they all come from a need to feel secure. Being in a crisis such as this shows us where the leaks in the system are, it gives us the opportunity to make repairs. We need to work on our transformation.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Our way of thinking needs to change. Our instinct needs to change. We do many things as a knee jerk reaction, we have been conditioned to react in a specific way to specific stimulus. If we trip we react by getting our fee under us, if we fall we instinctual put our hands up to protect our faces and bodies from serious injuries and when we get scared we institutionally run somewhere and we need to make sure we are conditioning ourselves to make that place God. Not eventually but first and above all things. We have to condition our minds to take the word of God above all other information not in parallel or in conjunction with, not equal to but above all other sour4rces. God will confirm hims word, he doesn’t have to but he is generous enough to do it but when the world disagrees with the word of God you need to make the choice that when ever that happens you already have chosen which you will follow.
This ones is tough for many people but I have to say something really serious, and true. A pastor is not God, they’re not closer to God or some middle man who deals with God on a higher level. They are human. Why does this need to be said?
I have seen a lot of people searching for leadership in this situation and naturally, a church member would seek out their pastor and there are some pastors who rise to that occasion. I assume for some its almost like a month of Sundays, being contacted continually for guidance, prayer, encouraging and insightful words. Some pastors on the other hand are just as confused and worried as any of us. It’s not that their bad pastors but we all have our lives, our families and our responsibilities and in a situation where we are all going through daily challenge that threaten all we hold dear some pastors or church leaders become distant and disconnected.
God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
This is just human nature and I hope, sincerely that you wont be too hard on your pastors or church leaders if they aren’t in constant contact with you. Only God has the capacity to be all we need, all the time. There is a reason that all scripture and all teacher (the true and good ones anyway) point to God. Even Jesus pointed to God.
In both Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 we read the account of a person calling Jesus good, Jesus reply is that ONLY God is good. This is Jesus speaking, surely we would all consider him to be better than a good Christian however even he would not accept a word that is only truly applicable to God himself. A pastor or church leader can help you learn and grow without question. They can be very smart, spiritual people they can be our friends, our confidants and they are instruments of God but they aren’t God and we have to know that God is the one whom they represent all the things about them that we find comforting, all the reasons we think of them when trouble hits and were looking for help, guidance and answers, all those things come from God and we can and should go to God first.