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Posts Tagged ‘selflessness’

Mike Brown.

Mike Brown.

Today, Feb 23rd is my husband’s birthday. My deceased husband, that is. And I’ve rather put that fact on the back burner all day. I did a little Facebook post, but in a hurry, keeping the feelings at bay.

But now, the day is winding down and it’s time to ponder today’s devotion. So, what jumps out at me, “They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” [2 Corinthians 8:5b, NIV] But not like this, the words come out more like this: “He [Mike] gave himself first of all to the Lord, and then, by the will of God, also to me.”

Like many men, Mike, never fully trusted the women in his life. And yet, of all the women, he trusted me the most. And I can say that with some appreciation for a fight hard won. But whatever he might have withheld from me, he held nothing back from God, from the Christ. To God, he was devoted. I benefited from his faith, for it led the way to our marriage, our adopted children, and our 32 years together.

Mike was peculiar and saw everything through a unique lens. He didn’t really expect anyone to look through the same lens with him, but he did ask that people respect his point of view. It took me a while to get that. The Sarah in me wanted to change him. The Eve in me wanted to turn him. The Bathsheba in me wanted to lure him. But he was a steadfast man, even stubborn, which served his faith.

It wasn’t like he didn’t change over those years. He did. We both did, becoming less conservative and perhaps more progressive in the way we wanted to walk out our love for God. Mike was the first to reach out to people outside the box from men in prison to orphans in Africa. He could talk to just about anyone.

Mike gave hours and hours to the church, particularly our current church in its mission to reach people far away from God and bring them closer to new life in Christ. It’s a mission that resonated with Mike, but behind the scenes.

He was a good man. And today, we would have gone out to dinner and toasted to another year of blessings, and he would have said, one year closer to retirement, that is from his day job. Mike would have worked tirelessly for God until the end. Well, he did that anyway. I know his last word would have been the name of Jesus.

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When is the end? I always wonder if I’ll know the end. I mean, maybe the end has already come and I’m just treading water. Has “death” been destroyed by the Christ? I mean, He got to pop back up from the tomb, but what about the rest of us?

I Corinthians 15:24-26
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

I have pretty much assumed that “believers” die, resurrect immediately after death, get to be with Jesus in heaven, and have a big meet-up with our family members who took an early exit. But, reading this portion of Corinthians, I’m having to rethink these assumptions.

Of course, I’m not speaking of any academic evaluation of this verse or comparing it with others in the Bible. I’m not an eschatologist. I’m just thinking about the words and looking for an application for me today.

I do believe Christ has full control over the kingdom (in the whenever). And this kingdom exists now but is not “handed over” until the sifting has been completed: the destruction of the other powers/enemies. Death is the final enemy.

So, is death destroyed now? Are people who are dead, not dead? But if not dead, then are they only in heaven not dead? Jesus made a re-appearance in our 3-D world. What about the rest of them… or us?

I still don’t think I get it. The deal with humans and death and Christ, that is. Jesus promises that we “can” be like him [Romans 8:29] and manifest even more works/miracles than He did [John 14:12]. So, what’s up with that?

I’m guessing we’re still in Seth Godin’s “Dip”. People are having trouble “sticking” with it. We have grown discouraged like the servants who were told to take care of the vineyard while the master was away [Luke 20:9-20]. We don’t really believe that death can be conquered in our “time.” We don’t really believe we, humans, can do those miracles. For those who get excited about this possibility and start seeking out that capability, they may begin to look like charlatans and snake-handlers. If people look for the miracle working power without the foundational stuff in place, it gets distorted. Pure and simple.

What’s foundational? The Sermon on the Mount stuff: all the PARADOX stuff like humility, mercy, cheek-turning, selflessness, poverty, purity, peacemaking, and gentleness.

OK, it’s not the end because God is giving us a chance to work this out. To practice a little more. I know I need practice.

This is when I wish I had those “matrix” eyes so I could see what is really “real.” That’s where the kingdom is – it’s here around me. I just can’t see it because I am blinded by my attachment to life as I have known it, not life as the Christ wants me to live it.

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