A More Perfect Union, Part 2

Today is a great day to remember: In Christ we live and move and have our being (Acts 17). We can do nothing without Him. In Christ, we live freely, move in unity, and have our comprehensive being: uniquely, expressively, and exactly the way God designed us.

Apart from Him, we have no good thing. Sometimes, I think God is way more serious and simple about what He says than we realize. Only in Him can we bear fruit. The sad reality is that unless we are each submitted to Christ, the fruits of our “love”, the fruits of our “kindness”, our “goodness” are the kinds of plastic fruit you decorate a table with. Only as part of the true vine do we bear true fruit (John 15)-- fruit that is sweet, fruit with seeds worth sowing, fruit that grows bountifully and truly nourishes others.  Fruit that is shared at a table with real people.

Can you imagine it? A real, living, functioning dining room? This is the table of community that Christ desires us to sit at.--with Christ at the head, and all sorts of beautiful expressions of people He has created - and delights in - gathered around. Most dining rooms in modern homes are for decoration, like a museum commemorating real living people. Don’t let the dining room of your soul, where Christ is seated at the head of the table, be like that. I want Christ to live there. I want to give Him the best I have to offer:  all of my love. I want other people to be free to gather there. I want other people to take up space, significance, and residence in my heart. More of a temple, less of a museum. Isn’t that the Church?

I wonder if God gives us relationships to show us, in our own flesh and bones, that life is not about us. Every good thing is outside of ourselves, yet somehow we personally benefit most when we take our eyes off of ourselves and place our gaze on to someone else. Jesus teaches and loves us by being with us. And when Jesus defeated death forever, what He really defeated was our eternal separation from Him. We don’t have to be afraid to come close to Him anymore (Hebrews 4). So, let us also draw close to one another.

Maybe reconciliation is supposed to be a vulnerable, repentant and sometimes painful, selfless experience. Maybe it helps us to better understand just what it means to be reconciled to Christ - the price Jesus paid for us - and how much we need Him.

I keep having this recurring image of John the Baptist -- covered in bugs in the wilderness, like a crazy man that has seen something. What did John keep crying out? It was, essentially, “Turn from your way and be reconciled to God! Salvation is coming, soon! Prepare the way for the Lord!” He baptized people as they turned from their ways, awaiting salvation.

Friends, salvation is here! Christ Jesus - who came in flesh and lived, died, and rose again - is, Himself, the Propitiation for our sins. He, Himself, is our Reconciliation. “‘How?’ you ask. In Christ.” (See part one of this blog post here). We preach Christ as Reconciliation for the world’s sins (1 John 2). May we be baptized in water, in the same manner - but may we also be baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit, and with fire, as John says that Jesus will do (Matthew 3), and join the chorus of voices, with John the Baptist, saying, “Reconciliation is here, and His Name is Jesus!! Be reconciled to God, through Jesus, and turn from your own way!” We do that with our words, and, more importantly, our lives.

As Pastor Bryon encouraged us on Sunday that each person has the unalienable right to life, liberty, and happiness: life, freedom, and experiencing joy in life, through the Holy Spirit. May Christ make His home in our hearts, and may there be real joy, life, and freedom there. May we experience the true joy, life, and freedom of living in a real, living, breathing, relationship with a God who loves us - and may we know it and believe it. May we experience the true joy, life, and freedom of loving one another and living in community with one another: trusting God’s Holy Spirit to help us navigate seasons of good, bad, and ugly; differences, hurts, offences, pains, excitements, and celebrations. May we not be bound up by sin and shame, by the things that separate us from Christ, and that in turn separate us from one another.

May we be grafted into that True Vine. May the Gardener of our souls do His great work. May we continue to hand more and more over to Christ. May we be continued to be emptied of ourselves - every single, last part. May we submit to the pruning, and not flinch at every snip of a bolting flower, or yank of a weed. May we grow, and keep growing!

May you know just how much God loves you, today. May you know the lengths that He went to, and the gravity of what He experienced on your behalf to bring you back to a right and reconciled relationship with Himself. May that be the giant compass as you navigate this good life He has given you to live.

May you be even more alive, even more free, and even more filled with deep joy.

And, in experiencing God’s massive, reconciling love, may you love others in the same way, without needing to even try - like second nature -through the power of the Holy Spirit, testifying to the goodness, love, and supremacy of Christ - who has overcome all death and all separation.

God, You are the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12). You started the work in our hearts, and You will finish it, until we are truly and perfectly united with You in Glory (Philippians 1). So we pray that Your Kingdom would come (Matthew 6). Amen.

Kaitlyn leads worship at our Cherry Hill location. She is passionate about writing and recording music, and has been a part of numerous recording projects; she has released one album and is now working on her second album! In her spare time, you will find her scouting out the best coffee and donuts in South Jersey and the Greater Philadelphia area.