Sunday, January 22, 2012

Other Centered

Each Christian struggles in different ways and at different times in the same way to obey God's will.  So without suggesting I am more spiritual, I am witnessing the blossoming of reason into self discipline with regard to relationships in someone very close to me.  Specifically, attracting people to God by exampling His love.  I am not suggesting they are abnormal or don't care or feel as much as any normal human being, only that this love, this agapeo is not natural to anyone.  It is the kind of love that is learned, it is a commitment and it must be empowered supernaturally.  Any part of that recipe missing means the practical application is impossible.
Souffle Fail

How many times have you read a verse in the Bible without that verse meaning much to you or rather that it speaks such an obvious truth it seems to require no meditation, then one day you read it and it suddenly opens up to your understanding in a whole new light and requires a 'selah' from Psalms or a pause and deeper introspection.  I have known this experience many times but this week I had the virgin experience of watching the light go on for someone else.  I knew this specific revelation the way it just opened up for her but for me it was many years ago.  I have tried many times to communicate the depth of it as I knew she needed to apply it's wisdom but she simply wasn't ready to receive it.  Suddenly she can see it and she wants that wisdom and habit right now.  Now she's asking me to help her achieve it and suddenly that seems like a tall order when I'd formerly assumed it was my onus to inculcate others with my deep understanding of the application of agapeo in every human encounter as I'd received it from James 1:26.  She gets it from another verse and a layer of the veils is pulled away so she perceives the need but not enough to see how to acquire or apply it.

So, my task this week is to communicate the way to filter every word which proceeds from our mouths through the filter of love and not just love but the kind of love that makes knowledge desirable and acceptable.  So 10 years ago in my pious attitude I knew it and could explain it in plain old simple English.  Today, I look back over the ten years at my performance in carrying out agapeo and suddenly I don't seem to have the acumen or the command over my spirit I thought I had in this discipline.  So let me proceed with the caution of a trekster approaching a frozen lake to cross it without falling through the ice.


We are so very limited in our knowledge of the needs of our fellow man, even those we've held the longest term and closest relationships with.  There are things going on inside their hearts they will never feel safe sharing and our old habits of being quick to judge and speak and slow to listen haven't done anything to encourage their trust to open up.  Now you must learn to make others feel at ease in sharing their hearts without condemnation.  This begins with filtering our words and censoring our speech.  Instead of reacting to others, we think proactively.  When someone else is angered / uncouth / passionate or otherwise without caution in their speech or behavior, we must think of our purpose and goal before answering which slows response time considerably.  Thus the verse, be slow to speak and quick to listen James 1:19 is more a consequence of applied agapeo than a means to express it, but it is a good practice to begin the transformation of our own habits.  Answering any attack in self concern is immediately recognizable as a failure in agapeo.  This love is demonstrable via 'other' concern instead of self concern.  When you love someone, the first person you must protect them from is you.

This is half of all the truth the Bible teaches.  Matt 22:33 When Jesus told the Pharisees the two major commandments on which the whole law and the prophets rested, He said, "Love God with all your heart all your mind and all your spirit and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself."  The first half deals with the natural rebellion of man against God and the second deals with the natural self interest.  One may express other concern by pointing to another's behavior is damaging your own concerns but the primary concern in you must remain centered on others even while acting in a self preserving manner.  Don't be bothered by whether they recognize your concerns are centered on self or other, God knows and He is all that matters where judgment ultimately rests.  The righteous goal is their benefit whether they would acknowledge it immediately or later is not your concern, but obedience to the Spirit of God is and that work of perfect obedience will eventually bear fruit.

You won't recognize the need for the supernatural embodiment of power until you once again experience your fallibility with this call to be like Jesus.  So, you will not have the patience to wait for God's timing and wisdom or won't recognize the prompting of the Spirit of God to act or the direction God gives in that moment.  There you are setting your mind because you're committed to think through your reaction to find the most profitable (for the perfect agenda) responses when rapid fire challenges to you personally or to your faith or intelligence or whatever, you become overwhelmed and BOOM!! there you go off in your own wisdom and understanding defending yourself or the faith or God and completely blowing your opportunity to show the heart of Jesus.  A few episodes like this and you realize you are just as helpless with this work as you are with every other form of perfection God calls you to.  The only thing left to you is to repent and submit every care to God and ask that He place His love in your heart, the words in your mouth and the works in your hands. Rom 8:12-13 Eph 3:16,20 That's when the miracles happen.  That's when your heart is at peace with your spirit whether the truth is received or not.  Your heart still breaks for the unrepentant soul but you're finally good with your own performance.

In our culture, the hero is recognized for the dramatic, placing his life in the path of destruction in order to preserve another.  Yes, this is a prime example of self sacrifice but the reigning in of our daily habits and reactions to promote Another's agenda, the perfect agenda, this is no less a personal sacrifice and much more difficult to accomplish than a single decision and quick action.  Yet this sacrifice is often unrecognized and unrewarded or even mocked and derided until we are met at the Pearly Gates.  John 15:18  When it is recognized, you gain authority of the kind that comes without station.  In other words, people just honor your opinions because they value you, because you frequently demonstrate other concern priority over self concern.

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