Affirmation & a rewrite…
Well I wrote this blog earlier and thought I had saved it but I think the only place I saved it was in the infinite black space that is in-between my ears, stuff get’s lost pretty easy there.
Just curious… do you have any stories of “saving” a papers or something like that only to find out that the abyss has swallowed it whole and it’s no where to be found? I bet I could get some funny stories, DO TELL!!! (and what excuse did you give the person you were suppose to get the paper to?)
So, I read the relevant 850 last week. A good friend of mine wrote it, Jim Palmer. Well actually I have just had a few brief myspace e-mail conversations with Jim but he seems like a nice enough guy, and myspace is as good as any space isn’t it? HA, yea right!
But I read Jim’s 850 entitled “The Kingdom of God is Within You” and it was very encouraging and affirming.
A awhile back I was teaching / preaching a message entitled, “You do it!” It was a message coming from Acts chapter 1. The heart of the message was that Jesus came back for 40 days and taught his closest friends about one thing, the Kingdom of God. At some point in Jesus’ teaching his closest friends come to him and ask (my paraphrase), “When are you going to do it? When are you going to bring the Kingdom to come, take over and rule and reign, be our king?” But Jesus tells his buddies, “You do it!” again my paraphrase. He tells them, “YOU WILL receive power… YOU WILL be my witnesses…”
I think we often turn to Jesus and ask him, “When are you going to do it? When are you going to make the world a better place?” But I think what Jesus often does is turn to us and say, “YOU DO IT!!! You are my body go bring heaven to earth, the kingdom to come! YOU DO IT!”
Jim says something very similar in this past weeks Relevant 850. It always affirming when someone is saying or thinking something similar to you. It helps you to know that you aren’t crazy or even more exciting, a heretic. So reading Jim’s 850 this week was encouraging, I would recommend the read, maybe you to will be encouraged.
His 850 is below or I am sure you can get it at Relevant Magazine .com
The Kingdom of God is Within YOU by Jim Palmer
The theology I learned at seminary in the northwest suburbs of Chicago didn't add up to much in South Asia when I sat across from a little girl moments before she was raped. I would have long since conveniently buried this experience beneath a mountain of rationalizations if I hadn't looked deep into the vacant eyes of a 12-year-old sex slave and vowed never to forget. Returning to my past world of ignorance would relieve my grief, but I can't go back; it no longer exists.
I traveled to South Asia with a small band of highly trained professionals from International Justice Mission, which covertly deploys operatives around the globe to rescue victims of horrific human rights crimes. I saw Batman Begins, but didn't realize there are actually people who risk their lives under cover of night to save innocent young lives from the clutches of evil.
My job was to tag along and witness this heartbreaking tragedy with my own eyes. Arriving on an oppressively humid night, I taxied down into the red-light district with a guy I'll call Ron. I was briefed on the drive that we would work undercover, posing as customers looking for action to identify brothels forcing young girls into prostitution. Peeing in my pants became a distinct possibility, and that little form I signed about "going at my own risk" began taking on a reality I never imagined.
Religion tends to place God somewhere out there or up there in the sky. The religious logic naturally follows then that people petition God to come down from the sky to intervene into human affairs, particularly to protect or rescue people from pain and suffering. When things are particularly bleak, the conversation turns to heaven and how God will eventually work everything out in the end. That's nice theology unless you are the little girl being raped several times a day, six days a week.
The metaphor of "the body of Christ" found in the Bible actually conveys that the divine life is still present on earth in and through us. Strangely, Christians sometimes fail to realize and live out the implications of the truth—that the infinite God is dwelling within us and therefore placing Him in close proximity to the needs and problems of humankind.
I hear in Jesus' words, "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21, NIV), that the mind and power of God are within us to both conceive and give birth to His will "on earth as it is in heaven." Jesus was trying to illustrate this fact in the feeding of the 5,000. The crowd of people following Jesus was hungry, but there was no food readily available. The disciples petitioned Jesus to wave His magic God-wand and miraculously fix it. Jesus essentially responded by saying, "No, you fix it." In the end, they met the need together. In the face of human suffering, we sometimes look into the sky petitioning God to come down and do His God-thing and solve it. Instead, I believe God replies by saying, "You fix it." The reply, however, comes from within, reminding us that we move in concert with God as He lives in and through us.
The common question is, "Where is God in the midst of pain and suffering of the world?" The better question is, "Where are you, Jim, in the midst of the world's suffering?" The people at International Justice Mission taught me that God shows up around the world to rescue these girls and other victims of injustice through the intervention of people like us. Confronting oppression wherever it exists and bringing rescue to victims of injustice wherever they are is a reflection of the heart of God. God's kingdom is one of love, beauty, wholeness, freedom, peace, truth and justice. Some people seem to sit around waiting for God to drop it on us. Maybe God wants to give birth to it through us.
Whether it's across the ocean or the other side of town, it's never been about the number of people I can help relative to the size of the need. It's about relationship with God. He cares deeply about the well-being of every person in every community. He is passionate about wholeness and peace. Humanity is hard-wired with free will. With that will, some people commit injustice, while others of us ignore it. To live faithfully in relationship with God requires facing the whole truth of our world, looking honestly at our part in it and being true to our identity as sons and daughters of God in the midst of it.
Thinking of those little girls I met in South Asia, the next time brothel doors are kicked down by rescuers, perhaps one of those girls will ask, "Where is God in my pain and suffering?" I believe the answer is, "God did not send your pain and suffering, but He enters into your pain and suffering and shares it with you. God is here now rescuing you, and He is able to bring deep healing and transformation from within."
Jim Palmer is the author of Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you) (W Publishing Group).