Quick advance kudos to the candle scene in Adrian Plass’s last chapter of Christian Speaker Aged 45 3/4.
OK, I know I said not all my blogs were going to be deep theological doozywhatsits, but honestly, not much else is worth blogging about, to me. 🙂 Unless you’d like me to Whinge. I do a really great Whinge.
One of the scariest things about blogging is that it feels like you’re simply writing in your diary … and you have no idea whether your diary entry is going to be read by the whole world or by nobody. Is it dangerous to be too transparent? Or are so few people truly interested that the danger is mooted anyhow?
I have a confession to make. Those of you who know me well will find this a tremendous shock, I know, but here it is: I get jealous. Not of other people’s voices – I have a voice – but of their opportunities. This is embarrassing to admit; it’s something I’ve been trying to knock on the head since my teens, with varying results and varying levels of effort. (Maybe it’s that pimple that just wasn’t ready to be squozen yet! – certainly as ugly!)
The Lord has been conspiring again. He’s good at that. Three things intersected last week to bring me to epiphany. One, the RE lesson I happened to be preparing was “One body, many parts”; two, since I actually got my Bible out and opened it for once, I read John 15:something (I’ll look it up in a minute); and three, I got tripped up again at music rehearsal.
John 17(not 15!):20-23
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”
There’s lots of great stuff in there, but the bit I’m zoning in on is this: Jesus is expecting the same degree of unity between us believers, as He had with the Father. Now, given that “The Father and I are one,” that’s some powerful degree of closeness! And I can’t picture the Father denying the Son any request. Therefore … the unity we experience as a Body at the moment, is just a pale shadow of what could be.
These were the thoughts running round in my head as I took the stage on Sunday morning for rehearsal. How close were Jesus and the Father? Could we really be that close to each other? He obviously believed so. And into the midst of all this pondering thrust my jealousy, up for a look around. But this time, the light went on! just for a second, but it was enough. And I realised for the first time what it is to be one Body.
When someone else is singing, I’m singing. When someone else is succeeding, I’m succeeding. When someone else is being celebrated, I’m being celebrated in them. It goes beyond “I’m happy for you.” It ventures into unknown territory: “I’m part of you,” almost, “I am you.” It’s a partaking, an identifying – not just a cheering. We all partake of one Body! Your heights are my heights and your depths are my depths. I don’t believe we’ve got any where near that so far. I want to go there.
The exciting thing is that this is what Jesus meant when He basically said, “If you build it, they will come.” Plenty of people think Jesus was a nice guy with a few clues. But He wants the world to realise His deity – that He came from the Father – and He said that once we were one, they’d believe it. It also underscores the importance of being in close fellowship … you can’t be one with people you never see.
I have to stop clamouring for “my turn” and see the turns of others as something I’m a part of. The best thing is that I get to be “good at” things through them, that I’m not at all good at myself. Did you know that I’m an award-winning engineer? a big-selling entrepreneur? someone who can paint? And not just the strengths, but the weaknesses, too. “Bear one another’s burdens,” He said, and He wasn’t kidding. That’s why it matters, how we treat each other. To hurt a brother or sister intentionally is to self-mutilate (and we do it for some of the same reasons, perhaps?). To envy a brother or sister (and you can see my hand waving wildly and my face flush with shame here) is like the hand being mad with the feet for being good at running, all the while unable to see that the whole self is stretching through the tape and winning the gold medal to massive applause.
I’m not saying I never want to solo again. I’m sure of my calling. But the little stab or thrill of fear that runs through me when I think about never being picked again … that disappears when I grasp the other view. If I am a part of every good thing this Body does … if I’m celebrating the successes of others as a personal joy, taking them into myself … if I can promote others in a spirit of selflessness, seeing them not as competition but as an extension of me, as in two hand-in-hand facets of a massive diamond … then I am loving truly. And to my amazement in that moment on Sunday morning, when I put my heart into someone else, perfect love really did cast out fear.