Take a seat… with Jesus.

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4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7

Here is an aspect of our identity in Christ that may seem far out! But, this is what is being pictured here: God treating you with the greatest honour available to us—to be seated with Jesus!

The typical image of a servant is that a servant is “waiting tables.” The servant serves at a banquet. The servant may not even open his or her mouth if they are approaching the throne.  So the picture here is of immense honour and care being taken by God towards all of us who are in Christ.  At baptism we use the phrase, “buried with Jesus in baptism and raised to walk in new life.”  But here the picture is that we have been raised not just to new life, but also to a new status with the King Jesus who has been raised. Now, because of God’s mercy toward us In Christ, we have the honour of being seated with Him in heaven. Mercy is not merited. God has graced us with more than we can imagine!

Why? Because, God loves you! Because, God is rich in mercy. Because, God desires to show “the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward” you!

What an awesome God we serve!

The consequence of separation

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15The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—17except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Genesis 2:15-17

To hold the power of life and death in our hands is almost unimaginable. But that power is exactly what God announced to adam. “If you eat [of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] you are sure to die.”

God is the Source of life. To remain connected to Him is to live. To remain in His Word is to live. To remain in Him is to live. The choice to remain in His communion was given freely to adam. It was a choice of life and death.

When I cut a head of lettuce from the garden and leave it on the porch, it will die; it will rot. It is corruptible. So it is with the created ones. Separate from The Source of our life, we rot, we die. Life diminishes and death reigns.

God laid out the consequences of independence from Him. For Adam and Eve the power for life to its fullest was already available to them. The power for life was not in this tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Trust was the currency of their power; They were already truly powerful in the communion of God.

Relationships without shame.

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18Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.

21So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

23“At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,

and flesh from my flesh!

She will be called ‘woman,’

because she was taken from ‘man.’”

24This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

25Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. Genesis 2:18-25

Shame hides. Shame creates a compulsion to hide either by overdoing togetherness or separateness. Shame is an enemy of communion. But shame is not the product of separateness or of union.

No shame. We have difficulty imagining such a condition.

God intended for Adam to discover his aloneness or difference from the creation. I believe the naming process created an awareness of self and of the other; or perhaps I should say the naming process engaged Adam with the stuff of earth and created the awareness in Adam of the absence of the “other” who was “just right for him.”

When Adam saw the woman, he recognized and rejoiced in her. His poetic explosion highlights their connection and their separateness. True communion must be permeated with the grace of God; it is the condition required for the strength and glory of an eben-ezer (strong help) to be received and cherished without fear, guilt, or shame. In the backstory of the Gospel its hard for us to imagine relationships without shame.

Lonely. Authentic Fellowship, Part 2.

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17But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20For you are our glory and joy.

1Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:3

When loneliness strikes us it doesn’t matter if we are in a crowd or in the confines of our home, it’s like getting hit in the gut. We have been wired for connection! The Apostle Paul’s affection for the people of Thessalonica was intense.

Paul missed them. Indeed he had been torn away from them (Acts 17:1-10) and his desire to know how they were doing compelled him to risk “being left in Athens alone.”

For each of us the lonely factor is different. But when it strikes, it serves as a deep reminder of our need for communion — knowing and being known. God designed people with this capacity. Even in the beginning, God allowed Adam to experience alone-ness in the Garden (Genesis 2:18-25). Adam’s aloneness was purely a desire for “like” connection without the twistedness of The Fall (Genesis 3) that is our reality.

For us, loneliness creates its own internal weather system. Even as we  desire connection, loneliness creates a kind of self-consciousness in which we begin to doubt our loveability.

The good news: You are not a freak. Let the awareness of your aloneness bring you into the graceful mindfulness of God, our Heavenly Father who is close not far; who has risked conception and the Cross through Jesus; who has made His dwelling in you by His Holy Spirit. Let the awareness of your aloneness be infused with the grace of Jesus, so you may receive people as gifts from God not to be used but to be celebrated.

The Handle is on Your Side

Light of the World, William Holman Hunt

20Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Revelation 3:20-22

Until its a habit, its a battle, its a struggle to meet Jesus heart to heart. Well its a struggle even then. Jesus address believers in the Church of Laodicea and invites them to open the door of the heart to Him. He uses the language of war to describe the situation. “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” You see Jesus gave up His chair in heaven for a time in order to take up a cross and open the way for you to meet Him.

But.

The handle to this door is on your side. Jesus knocks. You get to answer.

William Holman Hunt, painted a famous allegorical scene, in which a door long unopened has Jesus the light of the world, standing, and knocking at the door. Jesus comes to meet you. He knocks. He waits.

He will come in and commune with you. Enter the struggle. Set a time, a place, and build the habit of opening His Word and your heart to Him.