In the past, I’ve taken lots of pride in being a highly independent person. As any wise person knows, pride goes before a fall, both literally & metaphorically. So when I’ve thought that being independent was a strength, I’m growing to appreciate that it can also be a weakness. I’m learning that independence becomes a weakness when I separate myself from people, when I don’t ask for help, when I don’t allow others to contribute in teamwork and improvements. Unfortunately, I’ve had to fall down, fail and face inadequacy to accept the reality that my independence isn’t a strength as much as it can be a weakness for me.
I’m being vulnerable with this lesson because there’s a good chance that you might have a few things that you consider to be strengths. It’s possible that these perceived strengths could be weaknesses for you, maybe. Consider some examples:
Is external beauty a strength at the expense of cultivating interior beauty? Of course these don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but it’s a good question to consider in both ways of interior & exterior beauty.
Is dependence a strength when cultivating one’s internal fortitude is dismissed?
Is discipline a strength when it accentuates achievement at the expense of intimacy or people connection?
Is Bible knowledge or proper theology a strength without God’s love to soften our words, actions and attitudes?
Sometimes we can lean on our strengths so much that they can become weaknesses without realizing it! Let’s keep Paul’s words about boasting in weakness from 2 Corinthians 11:30 as a central theme in our daily living! “If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.”
My son is taking a camping trip this weekend, so I’m trying to help him be prepared for the various activities, fully expecting him to come home dirty, messy and totally happy 🙂
The idea of getting messy can be a tricky experience in various contexts, like leadership, relationships, cooking experiments and lots more. But here’s an interesting thought I’ve been considering. When God created the universe, the creation came to a grand culmination when man was created. With everything else that was created, God spoke the creation into existence. But when God created man, there was a lot of personal interaction – God sculpted man from the dirt. But here was the tricky part: God could have made this beautiful and perfect sculpture and set it in a beautiful and perfect creation with no mess. But God went the next step and breathed into the sculpture the breath of life and thus began the human race with all of the messy parts, pieces, plans, failures and glories. Maybe there was a fleeting moment in God’s mind about doing the breath of life thing – knowing what would come from that decision. God chose life and all of it’s messy displays, relationships, wars, etc rather than to make a pristine and perfect garden that lacked humanity. Genuine love chooses life 🙂
what a deadly experience isolation can be. i read a book a few months ago about a Mt Everest climbing expedition in the ’90s that was a DISASTER! About 1/3 of the team died on the mountain they were trying to conquer and many because they got disconnected from their team.
We all need community in alot of different ways: work, friendships, health, Jesus, specific issues, support groups, etc. Community, I believe, is part of God’s plan for redemption. Furthermore, thanks to the input from my friend Chris Hill, i believe that community on earth is just a trial run for the community that already exists in heaven. Consider Revelation 4 – everything around God’s throne is plural (24 elders, 24 thrones, 7 spirits, cherubim, . . . . ).
So given all of this, here are some community principles Jesus discusses in Matt 13 with several parables:
stay planted: in Jesus’ parable on the wheat & the tares, the whole point of the exercise was to let the wheat keep growing. To do this, it needed to stay planted & not be disturbed by having the weed / tares removed.
be changed: in Jesus’ parable on the mustard seed, even though this seed is the smallest seed, Jesus says its changed into a large tree. The seed is changed into a tree & community helps us grow & change – becoming who God has made us to be.
spend yourself: Jesus’ last parable to the mass of people who were listening to Him was about yeast. Simply put, yeast spends itself to become infused w something greater than it is by itself. When bread is made, you can separate out the yeast. Community is about spending one’s self, even being worn out, for something bigger than our selves – the Kingdom of God.
So, let me encourage you to plug into some Jesus communities – they’re an essential ingredient for God’s kingdom to grow in your life. If you go to Orchard Road Christian Center, check out the link to see some community opportunties! 🙂