I grew up without any real spiritual direction. That is a common occurrence it seems. As a little boy, I listened to my parents, went to church some with my mom, and people told me about right and wrong. However, Jesus as a person for whatever reason wasn’t clearly reflected. I could not or did not see him reflectively in them.
I was lost in ignorance.
That’s not to say people weren’t kind to me and that I never heard it said, that Jesus was “the Son of God” or “Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus forgives.” I heard those things. It’s just hard to make sense of any of that talk went you have little idea relationally who Jesus is as a Person. In retrospect, I did see some of Christ’s character in others I grew up around, but that character was never stable in them. It’s hard to trust where there is no stability. I believed there was a God, but I lived among unstable people, and somewhere along the way I stopped trusting in others.
I don’t altogether see that as a bad thing because everyone falls short of the nature of God. We need to understand that reality and not entrust our hearts to others. We must learn to guard our hearts. This is a something Jesus understood well its seems as indicated in John 2:23-25 which says, “Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person” (NIV). Also, the Scriptures tell us in Job 4:18 and 15:15 that God does not even trust His holy ones (Holy Angels or heavenly beings). God knows He alone has a perfect nature and He lives accordingly. Therefore, so should we. Consequently, when we don’t put God first, by acknowledging Him and following his way in trust to direct our path, we don’t stably love others. The result is neglect.
THE REALITY OF NEGLECT
Neglect has the long-term effect that it is not easily brushed away like dust on a bookshelf. No, neglect is sticky and causes all sorts of problems in relationships. If we address neglect in our own strength, we will get caught up in the same old issues over and over. We will never find stability or love others as we should.
This is not growth that pleases God. The truth is we tend to still our souls in hearing that no one is perfect and God loves us, but this doesn’t meet the standard set by Jesus Christ to be complete in nature (perfect) as God is absolute in character (perfect). Sure, Jesus forgives, but we must not aloud imperfection to become our standard. To accept less than the character of Jesus as our standard to live by is to be neglectful in our spiritual aspiration and thereby in all our relationships.
Let me mention something to the Christian: Justification in Christ doesn’t make you a mature human. It makes you saved from the sentence of eternal punishment.
Where there is ignorance, fear and distrust abound.
Where there is neglect, you will find troubles, riches, and pleasures choking out maturity.
Here lies the danger of legalism and corrupt moral standards.
When everyone in the world is angry on the surface or inwardly crying, then you (in a corrupt world) start making the same bad choices everyone around you is making. You do so fundamentally out of the craving for distraction from the void within and the adverse life circumstances of your world.
Why reach out when everyone else is accepting a level of neglect in their relationships?
Why not hold onto self in some way as to ease the present suffering?
We must admit holding onto self is not loving ourselves, but rather “playing it safe.” As we tend to do this in self-survival mode, the neglect as mentioned above sticks to us. We are just trying to do our best to have a little peace in our souls. We are just trying to care for ourselves the best way we know how. This lowers our standards in a corrupt world. We should love ourselves, but what Jesus Christ emphasizes is to love God with our totality and love others as ourselves.
GOD’S STANDARD AND MESSAGE AMIDST THE NEGLECT
No one does this (I know), but let’s stay in the light and not lessen God’s standard because of our failures or preferred mindset. For if we remain in the light by trusting in the perfect One (Christ), we can grow into His perfection by becoming more stable in our relationship with Him. Others will see God’s perfection growing in us. Others can trust Christ in us to provide the means to build stable relationship. Christ is the cornerstone.
I think God’s present endeavor for those in Christ is developing relational trust based on the entrusting of our souls to Him. There is a moral strength to be gained by a relationship with each other in Christ. The issue is that no one seems to have others as their primary concern. This I think is due to our distrust. It’s not that we don’t care, so much as self-denial is risky and we fear the neglect that can and likely will happen. To entrust your life to God before others can be risky in the here and now, but we must put our heart in God’s hands. Otherwise, we will not learn to love as He loves nor will we really guard our heart. Neglect will continue at the core of our relationships. Then, at best on the surface, we will learn to whitewash our relationships with positive words and good deeds in ritual-like behavior.
Again, as I remarked above, it’s not that we don’t see Jesus Christ in others, but rather His character in them is unstable and therefore hard to trust. The message “God cares” is undermined every time it is said with sticky neglect or the smell of our past. It is undermined by our choice of words, body language, and attitude. Just as Jesus said, you will know them by their fruit (I say this in principle). The real message typically comes across as, “Buck up, like it or not” and sometimes we add, “I love you” or “God cares, this will past.” More often than not the message is, “just believe.”
The message, a good one to someone needing hope, has been diminished if we don’t actually love the person. Jesus never tells anyone in the Gospels, “I love you and don’t worry we will deal with our relationship later and sort out your issues.” No! Jesus always enters (or offers) to be in a relationship with people to the extent they will entrust their heart to Him. He forgave, healed, fed, counseled, taught, and even died. He loved God with His whole Person and others as Himself. A good Biblical example of this behavior is in John 6 when Jesus fed 5000 with a boy’s five barley loaves and two fish. The next day, to the crowd that remained, Jesus pointed out what He was truly offering. It was not just food, but his very person (Himself), He said, “unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (verse 53). He offers a relationship to those that entrusted themselves to Him; that He upholds. Yes, God’s goal for humanity is risky and grand.
If to you salvation only means safety until Christ comes or no worries about eternal punishment, then your standard is in error. Grave error.
TOWARDS THE RALLY CRY
Jesus Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33). We can accept the consequences of the Fall better if we understand the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. Opposition to God is still fighting but is disarmed now.
There is more to be said, than simply, “God loves you,” “God cares,” and “the pain will stop someday.” We should say those things, but let us (we who are believers in Christ) also say that we are empowered to be human in the way Jesus was human. We can do this in the here and now! Let us say, “God loves you and let everyone understand we entrust our lives to God, and if we have to suffer, we do it not in vain, but in the Name of Jesus.” When trust is placed in Christ, ignorance will fade, and maturity will rise.
THE RALLY CRY
Our suffering is then understood in the context of living human as Jesus did. To live in the Name of Jesus is to live as a human empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let us embrace God’s ways in the here and now! There is no need to wait! What Jesus is doing now is putting His enemies under His feet (see 1 Corinthians 15:25) and we who are in Christ are His feet. Soon, He will crush the serpent’s head with us, His feet.
Let us not look to escape or wait for escape from this world, but like our Lord, the King of Humanity, let us manifest God’s will on earth now till He comes in His fullness. On His day, He will be glorified in us.
That’s right, “glorified in us.” 2 Thessalonians 1:10 says, “On the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you because you believed our testimony to you.”
I must admit this seems impossible, but nevertheless, I believe all things are possible in Christ because He rose from death. He is committed to mature humanity and will do so in those that place their trust in Him. We can be the humans God created us to be if we really live with confidence in Christ’s faithfulness! We can love each other in entrusting our lives to Christ. In Him building our relationships on the foundation of His trustworthy character, He is our Cornerstone.