"The Declaration of Interdependence"
Pastor Tom Millner
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 12:12-13; Ephesians 4:17-32
The human body is so amazing, so magnificent, and so complex and interconnected that modern science has yet to completely understand it. Each of us is a living, breathing miracle! From the fusion of two tiny germ cells (an egg and a sperm), grows a totally unique individual human being, unlike any other that has ever existed before, yet genetically tied to all others of its species. So unique, so different are we; yet so alike in so many ways. We are designed by the master artist as a divine reflection of the Creator in whose presence we walk, eat, drink, love, battle, surrender, sleep, wrestle, destroy and build.
We Americans like our independence. Still considered the most powerful nation in the world, we have built a society that values individual freedom and expression, yet relies upon cooperation and collaboration to maintain that freedom. Sometimes we have to be reminded that our individual freedoms come at a cost and cannot supersede what is good for the whole of the nation. We recite the pledge that we are "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Yet we battle one another verbally and sometimes physically over ideologies or ways of thinking that are at odds with one another. We have grown to understand this as the American way! Some even embrace it as God's way, that in that way majority rules. Political strategists reason that as opinion is swayed so is the action of the vote and one candidate wins over another. As the head is bent, so goes the body. We pride ourselves on our individuality yet live our lives under the influence of the latest fashion, progressive idea, perceived thrill, or distractive opportunity. We seek intimacy with another because the creator saw our need to not be alone. Two people filled with the thrill of how "I" feel in the presence of the other come together with two "I's" that often never seem to see the value in "one" body (the unit). Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (the yearnings of our heart) will be given to you as well." We're all seeing one another with a blurred vision, obscured by a self-view that is far from accurate. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, our redeemer and friend, we are saying that we are now making Him the Lord of our life which means the Lord of our life who ruled before must be put away. That lord that is rejected is the one that has ruled self to its destructive end, who has never seen self clearly, understood the value of self fully, nor worked truly for self-good! Many of us miss the true nature of our salvation experience when we perceive it only as "fire insurance." We act like we're telling ourselves that "now eternity is secure so I'll just go about this life living it the way I think best and expect that in every way I'll be blessed! The first time we hit a rough spot (I have a problem or some other Christian doesn't affirm me) we blame them for not being the light of Christ to us.
Accepting Christ into our lives is more than the purchase of fire insurance. It is the act of dying to the old warped, distorted view of self; letting go of the need to be the prosecutor, judge and jury, and allowing our minds, thoughts, and actions to be molded into the very character of the one whose perfect sacrifice for us made it possible to gain back our eternal divine image! I am not who I think I am; I am not who you say I am; I am who He says I am. Romans 12:1-2 reads; "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Can it be His perfect will that we seek anything that comes before our honor and worship of Him? NO! Want insight on your next decision, next interaction, next interpretation of circumstances? Seek Him first. Get in His presence; get in His WORD! And remember, you're not alone!
We are as tied to each other in this Body of Christ as hair is to skin, as pigment is to color or as vein is to heart. Our individual identity is divinely connected by the One who lives within us, comforting us, shepherding us toward the shelter that is the very character of Christ. Our human, genetic nature wants to fly in the face of our divine identity. That divine identity supersedes our own flight pattern and seeks to elevate us to a place where we soar to far greater heights than we ever imagined possible. As individuals, we constantly thwart the soaring path by inserting our own flight plan that is tainted with our limited vision of the entire terrain. Do you know what's in store for you tomorrow? Neither do I; but I know the One who does and I'll trust His flight plan over mine. And, His flight plan includes all of us flying in formation; as one flock; interdependent upon the position and movement of each other. Every movement we make affects the others in the flock. We either lift them up or tear them down; but whether lifting or tearing down we are still a part of His divine plan and a part of His divine flock, soaring in His direction. That's one of the miracles we experience in Him.
A miracle is something that happens that seems to have had no other explanation. The very fact that we live and breathe and are here to see, listen to, and experience one another is a miracle. Each time we surrender to the sound of His voice and not the beating of our own rants, we experience a miracle of grace in our lives. I've witnessed several miracles just this week and I'm ever so grateful for each of them. Miracles happen all the time; we don't always look for them or seek them because we're too tied up in our own flight plan.
Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus instructs them in the better way, being one in the body of Christ, led by His Spirit. He said: "22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood (false perception of self) and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body."
26"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
I read a story this week about the life God calls us to live. There was an evangelistic crusade happening in an African nation. A Zulu woman attended and accepted Christ as her savior. She knew her life would forever be changed because her husband had forbid her from even associating with the likes of those Christians. She couldn't get enough of fellowship and study in His WORD. One day, suspicious that something was going on, her husband followed her to witness her meeting with other Christians and learning from the Bible being shared. As she was on her way home, he jumped her along the path and beat her to the point of near death. He left her there on the path to die. Later, he had second thoughts about losing her so he went to find her where he had left her. She wasn't there, but he noticed a blood stained new path made by his wife who had crawled through the brush to a shade tree. He followed the path to find her beaten and broken body near a shade tree. He reached down, turned her over and looked into her eyes as he said; "so what is your Jesus doing for you now?" She replied through swollen lips "He's helping me to forgive you." She was being freed from the version of old self and being transformed into the new member of Christ's body!
So today we declare our independence from the tyranny of the old self; full of false perceptions of who we are, who we need to be, and who we feel we must be. And having done so, we declare our interdependence upon each other for the miracle of living out the grace and mercy that each of us has been given. In so doing, we clothe ourselves in the garments of truth before our Lord and each other, fulfilling the purpose of our creation and the desires of our hearts!