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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