Friday, August 31, 2018

No two pots alike

In the field of medicine, we often use the phrase, "See one. Do one. Teach one." It describes the process of not only being told "how" to do something, but demonstrating you are going to do it with consistency each time. The other night, I made mom a pot of soup as she had been saying she fancied homemade soup. I had lots of ingredients for the vegetable dense soup, complete with 97% fat free ground beef with which I created a multitude of tiny meatballs to add the mix. She loved it. After it was all gone, she asked if I'd make another pot, but if you know how I make soups, you will quickly know that no two pots turn out exactly the same! I add a little of this, that, and the next thing until I reach the taste I am looking for with whatever ingredients are available at the time. Needless to say, she ate it and enjoyed it very much, but as she said, "It wasn't quite the same." The consistency was not there between the two pots of soup because there was no set recipe I followed and that made the 'experience' of the soup different each time. In our walk with Christ, there is room for unique experiences, but there is great value in developing consistency!

We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.  (I John 1:3)

Fellowship is more than an acquaintance with someone. It is a closeness of relationship that involves companionship - that type of relationship that is comfortable. For many people, fellowship with a holy God is a scary and overwhelming thing. There is a fear of entering into fellowship, finding they are getting too close to God for comfort, because God is good and we are not. Communion, or fellowship, speaks of a degree of intimacy that is not easily "faked". It must be genuine - developing over perhaps years - and is not easily broken. Our communion with God is the same. There are no short-cuts into fellowship with God. If we have fellowship with God, we have fellowship with one another - a condition that will definitely encourage our growth and development. If we have been affected by the blood of Christ, we are on a pathway of being purified from all sin.

That should give us encouragement that we are able to approach a holy God - it should also give us hope that we can develop this type of intimacy with him. God knows that we are "visual" people - we often need to see something to fully understand it. So, in his love for us, he gives us each other - in order that we might learn the principles of fellowship (communion, intimacy). The next time you look at a close friend, or even a budding acquaintance, rest assured that he/she is placed in your life to teach you some of the principles of true fellowship. They are also there to help us learn the 'consistency' of fellowship and communion - a type of "life-line" for our continued growth and development.

There are all kinds of reality shows these days where folks are left on islands, devoid of the trappings of home, and often devoid of other human contact. The 'alone' experience is not all that some think it will be - they absolutely cannot live without that human contact. Some have said that companionship (fellowship) is a basic need for humans - without it, we wither up and are not able to meet our full potential. We are created as social beings. Love is something we both need and are required to give away. It is a two-way street. We crave relationship on one hand, yet fear it on the other. The neat thing about God's plan is that he always brings someone across our path that will help us learn to love. We often find ourselves gravitating toward someone who has learned to love well - thereby learning how to love well in return - becoming more and more consistent in our love. We are looking for models all around us - we are imitators of what we see, hear, and experience.

This is exactly why God sets us up in the local church - to learn to love as he loves. It is a place of "learning". We "learn" to be companionable creatures - often by trial and error. We "learn" to be truthful and we learn to hold onto a truth that has been shared. In time, we "learn" to trust deeply. God has been providing us with the opportunities to develop intimacy in natural relationship so that we understand the aspects of intimacy with him (fellowship). The invitation is to come into fellowship. The opportunity for fellowship is two-fold: first with God, second with those he puts in our path. We learn to be comfortable in companionship from other "path dwellers" as they serve to drive us deeper into companionship with our God. As we learn to love God, we are also learning to love those individuals along our path. Love is reciprocal - it must be experienced and passed on - it must become consistent.

The more we desire to love God, the more we will desire to love those he places in our path. What are your other "path-dwellers" showing you about God's love, grace, and joy? What are they exposing in you that brings you to your knees? What are you exposing in them that brings them to their knees? Remember...love is experienced in stages - each building upon the other - exponentially. Fellowship with God grows in the same way - one revealed truth after another. Come into communion (fellowship) with God and experience what he has for you today. In time, consistency will develop. Just sayin!