Transplanted in Christ
Most of us are familiar with the concept of a bone marrow transplant. We understand that when the bone marrow is diseased it must be irradiated and destroyed. Once this happens, a transfusion of healthy bone marrow is initiated and after a period of time this healthy marrow takes root and begins to produce healthy blood cells instead of diseased ones. This is how certain types of cancers can be cured.
It is a similar process within us when Christ comes to dwell in us. Our old, diseased marrow must be exchanged for the healthy marrow of this new Life. Our old sinful nature must be killed off. We must die to ourselves. It is only then that the healthy life giving force within us is free to flourish.
Those who experience this “transplanted nature” of Christ, like one recovering from a bone marrow transplant, need a carefully protected environment in which to begin their new life. Without such an environment, they can easily perish from the “infection” brought on by our culture and other forms of worldliness. Without proper support, these transplanted new Christians may fare even worse than their counterparts. In some ways they are even less able to fight off the ravages of disease than before their “transplant”. They need a protected environment in which they are nurtured, loved, supported, instructed, until they are strong enough to step out into the world with their new transplanted nature and face the inevitable conflicts that will arise as they face a world which no longer understands them or shares their values. Without a functional, stable, supportive, church environment these newly transplanted Christians may grow sick quickly and die. It is perhaps worse for them than if they had never been “transplanted” in the first place. For having endured one failed transplant, they are much less likely to be willing to undergo the process again at a later time. This is why Christ was so careful not to speak any message to a group or individual before they were ready to receive it. In perfect understanding of each heart He encountered, He never spoke more than people were ready or able to hear. Lest they have “eyes to see and ears to hear” before their hearts were ready to receive.
Some wonder today why there are not many new converts to Christianity. This may be a merciful act of God, one designed to save people from a much worse end. While coming to Christ is indeed important, coming at the right time, and having a healthy support system within a functional church to nurture the new Christian carries the same importance, if not more so. There is no higher calling for the Church of Jesus Christ in our world today than the care of newly transplanted souls.
The Self Created God
Sometimes Christians appear strange to the rest of the world. We are from a different world, in a way. We think outside the cultural box, typically. We are called to be this way. God calls us “a peculiar people for His own possession”. This means that He shapes us in a way that makes us suitable and pleasing to Him. However, this may preclude us from being pleasing to others to some extent. Thus we may find ourselves a bit rejected at times.
In seeking to truly follow Christ, we may have the effect of making those around us uncomfortable. This is because we challenge beliefs that others perhaps hold dear. The problem often occurs when those who follow the true Gospel and the God of this Gospel, encounter others who are following a “self created god”. Believe it or not, you can even find this in churches among those who consider themselves believers! A “self created god” may look a lot like the real thing. But if you look or listen carefully you will note several significant differences. Self created gods are often one dimensional. They may be all about love, but absent of justice. They accept everyone and everything and condemn nothing. There is much talk of heaven but no acknowledgement of hell. In short, self created gods look and sound a lot look the culture we live in! When confronted with the true version of a biblical God those who cling to a self created god often become angry and reject the real thing. And in so doing, they crucify Christ once more.
The True God of the Gospel is not a benign entity. He is a God of power, might, judgement, justice, mercy and yes, of course, love. He is a God who longs for a relationship with us, but desires that we allow ourselves to be conformed to His will. He has expectations of us. There is both a call, and a response required. He is Abba Father. As such he both loves and disciplines his children as any good father would. A self created god is typically absent of one or more of these features. To acknowledge and follow the True God we encounter in the Gospel may put us into conflict with those around us, even within our own church. But to deny Him is far worse. So when you find yourself feeling rejected in seeking to truly follow Christ remember this: Jesus said that as the world treated Him, so they would treat His followers. Should we expect anything different?
Shifting from foundation, Whittier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A House without Foundation
Everyone knows that a house with a faulty foundation is a house in serious trouble. In the midst of a storm or a trembling of the ground there is great danger to the house. It may shake violently. What was once a small crack may dramatically increase in size. The house may shift in one direction or another. Any of these occurrences means danger for the residents. The house is no longer safe.
Is it the fault of the wind or the tremor that the house is in peril? Or is it the fault of whatever made the foundation faulty to begin with? This is a question worth considering when we look at conflict within our lives and that within the church. Our human tendency is to shake our fist and curse the wind when the house falters. But the real issue at hand is what lead to the faulty foundation in the first place?
When we as individuals or we corporately as part of the church, turn away from Christ our foundation becomes weak and cracks. The tragedy is that most often this is insidious and we don’t even realize that it has happened. Those who can see the cracks in the foundation raise appeals for it to be fixed. Sadly, these are often ignored. No one wants to address the problems and issues which lead to the cracks forming in the first place. Fixing a foundation of a house is very difficult, expensive, and time consuming. It is easier to ignore the problem, hope that the weather will hold, or just deny that the cracks are serious enough to warrant fixing. This “head in the sand” approach does nothing to address the problems with the house and ignores the dangers to the residents. The risk, of course, is that the house will one day collapse and destroy the relationship or the institution. May we be humble enough and wise enough to acknowledge when our house has cracks in it’s foundation. May we earnestly seek the One who can repair all things and make them new again. Amen.
Cover of Seeing the Unseen
Seeing the Unseen
Dogs have an amazing sense of smell that we humans simply do not share. This sense allows them to “see” things that their human friends cannot. Anyone who owns a dog can attest to how much they rely on this sense to examine the world.
Our dog Micah had a wonderful relationship with our cat Xena. From the time he came home to live with us they were fast friends. When she died, Micah seemed confused by her absence. We tried to explain as best we could, but to no avail. One day soon after her death, he discovered the cat carrier which we used to transport Xena and our other cat Gus to the vet. Micah began furiously to scratch and paw at the carrier. He sniffed, and sniffed, peering into the carrier. Finally, he gave up and walked away. Though his eyes were telling him one thing, his nose was telling him another. Though he could not see her, he could still smell her. Which to believe? His eyes or his nose?
Humans do not have the super sensitive smelling ability of dogs, but we have something similar and infinitely better and more useful. God has given each of us the ability to “see” with our spirits. When we make space inside ourselves for His presence, He comes and dwells within each of us. In so doing, we receive the gift of spiritual discernment. Though we still see the world with our eyes, what we sense through our spirits may be two entirely different things. But unlike our canine friends, what we see with our spirit is much more real and valuable. When there is conflict between what we see and what the spirit of discernment informs us, the conflict is easily resolved. Our eyes may deceive us. But The Spirit within us is impeccable in wisdom and knowledge. It is this sense which we must learn to rely on in order to navigate our world.