The Mess of Estrangement

December 6, 2017

Relationships are the most fundamental elements of human relations. But they’re difficult.

The sad reality is that most people know far more about what it is to estranged from someone with whom they once were close. Reconciliation, for most people, is the exception instead of the norm.

In this message, we walk through the most powerful prayer recorded in the Scriptures as Jesus prayed for us, His followers.

It’s true. Jesus stepped into the mess of our estrangement and brought reconciliation.

May we SEE HIM as the one who made it possible for us to be reconciled to the God who made us.

May we BELIEVE HIM – that He makes reconciliation possible between us all.

May we KNOW HIM as intimately as He longed for us to know Him.

Advertisements

Weddings are very important and very meaningful occasions. It’s pretty forefront in the minds of the ladies of the Peercy Posse right now as we prepare for my only daughter’s upcoming nuptials.

It’s always been an interesting detail to me that Jesus’ first recorded miracle in the book of John took place at a wedding. It is significant in my mind.

[Take a moment and read John 2.1-12.]

The first statement about the festivities here is that there was a supply issue. They ran out of wine. That’s a problem.

I know some folks that have argued that this was not wine in the same sense that we use the term today, that it was not alcoholic, that it was juice, that it was not at all an endorsement of partaking of alcohol. We often do a lot of interpretive gymnastics when the Bible suggest to us a reality that doesn’t fit with our conviction. It was wine. It is ridiculous to suggest otherwise and it’s foolish to think Jesus did not partake. Let’s be clear, folks: wine is not the problem, excess is. But that’s a post for another day…

Jesus’ mother brought to his attention the matter of shortage. While Jesus seems to, in a sense, protest his mother’s insinuation that he could rectify the situation, he gave instruction nonetheless.

The servants filled the water jars. These were large containers that were used for various ritual practices and were thus kept carefully clean. Jesus never seems to have even touched any of the jars. He just told them to draw some and take it to the toastmaster.

The toastmaster was astounded at the breaking with custom. The norm was to serve the best wine at the beginning and, when folks were a little more relaxed and, say, less discerning, bring the poorer quality. This was the very best!

The text tells us that, as Jesus did this sign, he “manifested his glory.” He was showing a glimpse of who He was. And in doing so, “his disciples believed in him.”

In the mess of lack, Jesus brought abundance.

It was an abundance of quantity and an abundance of quality. It was a generous provision.

We can draw a number of observations here. It could well be said that Jesus loves a party. He certainly saved this one. It could be said that Jesus loved good things. He made the water into the best wine. It could even be said that Jesus approved the celebration of a wedding as he allowed this one to continue in a very significant way. But the one thing we have to recognize is that Jesus stepped into the mess of lack and brought abundance.

There’s something else, though, that I want us to consider.

Jesus came to the wedding. It was a great celebration—no doubt full of dancing and celebrating and drinking. It was in danger of winding down all too soon.

Jesus, the bringer of new life, was, on this occasion, the new life of the party. He enabled the celebration to continue.

So much of the imagery of Scripture regarding weddings points us to a greater, deeper, spiritual reality that every believer will one day witness with our eyes. It points to the marriage supper of the Lamb where Jesus, the Son of God, the glorious bridegroom, will receive to himself his bride, the Church. And that party will go on beyond the bounds of time.

Jesus came into our lack to bring his abundance. He was the new life of the party. If he loved a good party then, what kind of incredible celebration are we in for when we get to his own?

Continuous Rinse

October 14, 2017

Stuff gets dirty. It’s inevitable. It’s a fact of life.

And it seems sometimes that, the more I get involved with people, the more messy it can get to serve and love and care for through the reality of this jacked up life.

It seems to me that you don’t walk with someone through addiction with genuine compassion without any temptation to the addiction – whether in the same issues or in alternate equivalents.

And even if it’s not the stuff you’re trying to help others deal with, the world is really like a cesspool of swirling mess. Unless you never look at people, you will see stuff and hear stuff and even touch stuff that is not good for your spiritual condition. It is inevitable.

But what do we do about it? Were the monks onto something when they moved off to the wilderness to close themselves off from society? Are we supposed to so insulate ourselves from the wickedness of society that we cannot be polluted by it?

Perhaps…

But wait…manipulation and fear and greed and perversion seem to be just as present in the isolationist cultures as they are in the world at large. What are we to do?

It’s a lot simpler than I think we may realize.

David taught us in his beautiful acrostic poem, Psalm 119, with a simple question and an even simpler answer:

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to [God’s] word. (Ps. 119.9)

Maybe it’s time as followers of Jesus to deliberately increase our intake of God’s Word. It’s kind of funny (in a sad sort of way) that we wonder why we have a hard time figuring out what God is trying to tell us but we don’t have a steady diet of God’s Word. In fact, if we’re honest, we take in so much other stuff that we

In other words, it’s time to step into a continuous rinse of our lives by the power of the Scriptures.

How can you do that today? How can you stay under the stream that helps rinse away the inevitable crud of this world?

Maybe it’s as simple as listening to Scripture as you drive or choosing a passage to meditate on and memorize and looking back over it every hour. Maybe it’s as simple as setting a reminder on your phone to pause at regular intervals to take a bite of the Word.

The world is messy. We need a continuous rinse.