Muddy Water

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By Martin Schlomer

Kim and I love to hike. When we come to a lake we enjoy sitting beside it and gazing into it. We can see the fish and all of the underwater beauty. However, there are seasons when that beauty is lost because of muddy water.

Following Jesus is a beautiful pursuit. It’s filled with challenge, depth, and increasing beauty. However, there are times when its beauty and depth are lost in the muddy water of life’s questions and complexities.

Last Sunday, a person texted this question in response to the message: “What is the by-product of a passionate follower (disciple) of Christ?” I’ve thought A LOT about this. Left to my own thoughts, I can muddy the waters with many, many, many, many good thoughts. Since I wish to avoid muddy water, I will keep my thoughts brief and focused.

The first by-product is a growing awareness that Jesus loves you A LOT! Many people know this, but the growing awareness is a bit vague. This awareness is anchored in our identity in Him. If God was to write you a letter expressing how He sees and feels about you right this moment, what would He write? While we may all believe we are sons or daughters of God, on our insides, many feel like orphans. This sabotages this growing awareness. This is why Paul prays so fervently, “And I pray that you, being [having been and continuing to be] rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ … that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19). As this develops, then, as the hymn states, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

Second, out of this growing awareness emerges a growing hunger to learn and follow the ways of Jesus (Matthew 28:20). His ways are beautiful and life-giving. They are not burdensome and life depleting. I’ve never heard a person say his or her life has been diminished because of following Jesus as prescribed by Jesus.

Third, out of this awareness and hunger we embrace community. I believe this is the most challenging outcome of being a passionate disciple of Jesus. The image of community we long for is seldom one we can walk into. It must be formed through the crucible of time, trial, and personal change. Peter Scazzero said it best: “Love in practice is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”[1] This is why we must be “taught by God to love one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:9). However, it is an outcome of following Christ, nonetheless. Jesus refused to relent on this one (John 13:34-35).

At Elim, these by-products (or outcomes) are core to understanding God’s work in this community and family. They require our surrender, focus, and intentionality. However, more importantly, they require the work of the Holy Spirit.

“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13

[1] Scazzero, Peter (2006-07-01). Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ (p. 175). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

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by Jeff Foerster

Reading in the book of Exodus I came upon preparations for the tabernacle: tools and implements, rings and curtains, tables and altars. Intricate instruction and specific detail laid out by the Lord, to Moses, for its construction and operation. In the midst of this I found, “You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.”

I was caught by the latter half. I read on, but it wasn’t finished with me. By the end of chapter 28 there it was again: “…for glory and for beauty.” Like the knockout punch in a bare-knuckle brawl, I couldn’t shake off its effect. Beauty. Huh? In my ignorant mind most of the description read more like a manual than something befitting of that word. Why “beauty” amongst all the many details written in the book of Exodus?

True, God is concerned with glorifying Himself, and rightly so. I get this. Glory is due our great God. Mighty in power. Absolute in purity. Wholly righteous and just. Perfect in every way. But … what is this “beauty” thing? What does it do? How does it work with justification, propitiation, and expiation? How does it promote, enable, or further sanctification?


I sat with this for a time.

In all the grind and grit of life beauty can get lost. But beauty is as much a part of who God is as His power, His purity, His perfection. I think Moses understood this when he petitioned God: “… show me Your glory!” Moses wanted more of God. He wanted to bask in the presence of the Almighty. Moses wanted to be surrounded with God’s beauty.

I myself see God’s beauty in Revelation 3 and 4. The Lord of Heaven and Earth promises me (and you too, Christian) that I will not only be in His presence, but that I will be granted the right to sit upon the throne with Jesus! Wow!! If you don’t have in mind what this means, read Revelation 4:1-11.

Some of you see beauty through Jesus’ sacrifice in spite of the horror and shame of the cross. Look. Look deeply. Delve into the word and seek out the beauty of God.

All the bits and pieces of beauty we have around us in this life are a sampling, a precursor, a mere aroma of the glorious beauty we have in our Savior Jesus Christ. I think the Westminster Catechism gets it right when identifying the chief end of man: to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. This, is the essence of beauty.

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