Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This blog is titled Reaching Up Reaching Out because I believe, as followers of The Way, this is what we are called to do. As the universal world-wide church we are God’s family-The Body of Christ, Christ’s visible presence on earth. We are all in this together. I believe God’s purpose for our salvation-our redemption and restoration-is not merely to get us to heaven when we die but to live in relationship to the Living God in the here and now. Our commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NRSV) necessitates interaction-relationships-with one another. This is the reaching out part. “All nations” tells me no one is excluded. “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” and “I am with you” tells me I should actually know what Jesus taught and cultivate a relationship-rely on-Him. This is the reaching up part.
            At this point I need to insert a couple disclaimers. Obviously this is not an original idea. If I thought of it surely many others down through the centuries have also. Which leads to the second disclaimer-I don’t claim to have this business down pat or to be an expert or anything like that. I would love to say this blog is the product of decades of wisdom and experience gained from a life of close personal relationship; this is simply not the case. I get the theory; the practice has been lacking. So there is a sense in which we will be exploring this together, as beginners. I have, however, been influenced over the years by a few specific authors and teachers. I will make every effort to credit them when credit is due. There are, however, times when thoughts and ideas just sort of float around and I can’t quite remember where they originated.
            So, to recap: the idea here is to reach up to God through Jesus Christ, spend time in His presence, and then take what we learn out into our day to day lives. This kind of practical application has traditionally been difficult for me. My hope is this blog will give me some personal discipline-putting things into practice. I will try my best to be consistent in my posts. I believe now more than ever we must seek those things that unite us, that enable us to work for the common good and to build one another up rather than tear one another down; biting and devouring one another, as Paul said.

            This is a lot to digest-like my wife’s dinners, it sort of grew-so let’s start small, with something simple from Ephesians 4:29 (NRSV): “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” For today, borrowing an idea from one of Richard Foster’s books, let us try to do exactly what Paul says-quietly, without calling attention to ourselves, let us make it our mission to affirm and build up those people whom God sends our why. May The Lord bless you and keep you this day. JRG

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