December 15, 2013
“All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as we are.”
John 17: 10, 11
King James Version
“Living The ‘Good Life” – Part 3
“A Life Unified By One”
In The Beginning
“God, the Master Sculptor, chiseled out the hills,
Hung great mountain-curtains at His windowsills,
God the Artist painted murals in the sky,
Tinted all the landscape with ecstatic dye,
Cleft the dark and light, and
named them night and day,
Set the circling seasons on their purposed way,
Looked upon His work, and pronounced it good,
Fashioned creatures like Himself,
and called it brotherhood.”
“Brotherhood” – The quality or state of being from one.
What do I think of when I hear the word “estrangement?”
What do I think of when I hear the word “brotherhood?”
“Jesus was the only teacher tall enough to see over the fences that divide the human race into compartments.”
“And a thousand million lives are his (hers) who carries the world in his (her) sympathies.”
James Russell Lowell
Of all the things that happened in David’s family life, it was the estrangement of father from son and from one sibling and another that I find so heartbreaking. This may be because I’ve watched in my own extended family as, what once appeared to be strong relationships, fracture because of jealousy, misunderstanding and downright hate. As I read the prayer requests everyday, I know that many of you feel weighed down by relationships run amok, too. And the estrangement in your own home may have taken a toll on you.
Webster’s dictionary defines “estrangement” as alienation or “to make hostile or unsympathetic.”
I know that when I think of the word “estrangement,” I reflect on “distance that separates.” But it can also be ideas and personalities and people that are at the root cause of estrangement or separation or division. Certainly, if you and I were given the opportunity to define the “good life,” I seriously doubt if feelings of estrangement would be on our list of joyous emotional responses. Instead, estrangement, whatever the cause, would bring with it a great deal of sorrow.
This is why I choose to delve deeper into the word which I found to be quite the opposite of estrangement – and it’s the word, “unity.”
The concept surrounding unity is one that was front and center in Christ’s ministry. There’s no more beautiful example of the “oneness” Christ spoke about than His Words to His own Father, recorded in John 17: 10, 11, our text for today. I appreciate the simplicity of this passage from The Message Bible, “I’m praying for those You gave Me. For they are Yours by right. Everything Mine is Yours, and Yours Mine, and My life is on display in them. For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world; they’ll continue in the world while I return to You. Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that You conferred as a gift through Me, so they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart and mind.” I went to my Greek dictionary to check-out the word, “one.” Surprisingly, this isn’t some secret word with a hidden meaning. It has, instead, a very direct meaning, “one,” like the number “1.” It means one in gender, too, for this “one” can be female or male. That specific piece of information reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s letter to his friends, the Galatians. Here’s what Paul said about the word, “one.” “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus…there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all ‘one’ in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 26-28).
Simply put, when we put Number 1 first in our lives, the estrangement we feel with others begins to slip away. And while there are those who may never ever find it in their hearts to heal old wounds and stitch together the divisions of the past, when you and I choose to make God #1, the ability to function in a harmonious way with those around us goes up, amazingly! I know this to be true for I’ve watched as people, estranged for years, allowed their unity in God to be the centerpiece that not only brought them together, but held them together.
Yes, the “good life” is a life without regrets. But it is also a life without distance, without estrangement. It is truly a life of “oneness” with those around us.
“The nearer we draw to God in our love for Him, the more we are united together by love for our neighbor, and the greater our union with our neighbor, the greater is our union with God.”
Dorotheus of Gaza
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
Psalm 133: 1, K.J.V.
Prayer for My Heart
Increase the capacity of my heart.
Take its edges and stretch them out
To include all in me that I do not love,
All in my family that I judge,
All in my church that I fear,
And all in the world that doesn’t fit.”
(This prayer was written by Phoebe W. Griswold who constantly flies around the world meeting new people. As she stated, “I want to be open to what lies ahead and let God speak to me about what I could do. I pray that my heart can join with God in loving all creation into God’s Kingdom.”)
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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