Rev Church SLC

Loneliness

(from Sunday, 7/7/19)

Loneliness is a feeling.  Loneliness is not so much the cause of something, “I did such and such because I was lonely,” as it is a symptom.  Loneliness points to something or better yet reveals something to us about ourselves such as: our condition, our circumstances or even what we believe.  Everyone experiences the feeling of loneliness just as everyone experiences all of the emotions, some would argue everyday.  Not all experience it to the same depth or severity, though I believe we are all capable of experiencing it to a deep, deep level.

 

The dictionary defines loneliness as a “sadness because one has no friends or company”.  Though I do believe that not having any friends or company can cause loneliness and can be a part of the definition, I do not agree with this as an in depth definition.  I also believe that, if you stop at the definition that basically says, ‘if you are lonely it is because you have no one,’ then you have believed a lie.  During our discussion time the point was made that the reason the above definition is lacking, is because it misses the spiritual side of things.

 

Raise your hands if you have experienced the feeling of loneliness in a crowd, with company, in a friendship, in a marriage or within the context of any relationship?

 

Obviously, the feeling of loneliness is not eliminated just because we are in the company of others or in relationships.  Loneliness simply reveals to us, the implanted need for true (deep and healthy) connection.  God made us to be in communion with him and each other placing this innate desire for connection.   We can ignore our need to be in relationship with God by trying to fill this hole with many things and other people.  Also, we can ignore our need for community and family with people by hiding away with God.  God must come first, but we cannot have a healthy relationship with God apart from love for and relationship with people.  The two go hand in hand.  Jesus says in John 13 talking to his disciples that if they love each other as he has loved them then they will be known as his disciples.  This standard is true for us as well.  This makes it obvious that we cannot be known as a disciple of Jesus’ unless we are connecting with other humans.

 

Just as with all emotions, loneliness is not good or bad, it just is.  Often, the feelings we have, can feel bad, but that does not make feelings the enemy.   Generally speaking, we can interpret many feelings as pain, like fear, anger, hurt, etc., and what we have learned to do in our society in response to pain is to mask it or numb it, rather than go to the source and evaluate it.  We live in an Ibuprofen society.  There is a difference between medicating and healing.  Many of us, if not all of us, do not want to step into and experience pain when we recognize it, though this is often needed.  With our deepest pains the only way to do this is with God, because he understands us better than anyone and he has always purposed us for freedom and wholeness.   It is in the process of confronting these painful feelings that we learn from them, receive healing, grow and even mature.  I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for medication; I’m saying that medication cannot be substituted for healing.  And truly, though we may stuff pain away, it never goes away, and it will continue to surface.

 

 God made us for relationship with him, we know this because Adam and Eve were made for him and when Jesus came, he came to bring us back to him.  Jesus makes it obvious that God wants to connect and commune with his beloved.   The biggest sacrifice ever to be made was made for this communion to be possible.  Jesus invited us into him, inviting us into the union that existed before time began.  Loneliness is a longing for connection that began with God.  God was complete before he made us, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and in that, he has never been without company or friends.  But because he is like a river, longing to find a place to pour through, he created us.  He made us in his image, to be like him, to be in communion with him and to receive from him.  He is generous with who he is and he is the very definition of love.  He placed the desire for connection within us; it is a part of his image and thumbprint upon us.  If we are not living in relationship with him, then we will feel lonely, though we may be in the company of many.  If we have been praying to know him more, then his answer to our prayer may be him opening up the well within us to go deeper, in a sense, creating more space for him to dwell in.  The spirit man is like God in that it is deep, beyond our understanding, and the prayer to know God more, opens up caverns within us to fill.   The answer to our prayer can feel like pain, and yet “the ache in our heart draws us into the place we long for.”  If we were to ignore or numb the pain, we may miss this opportunity.   And if in our loneliness, we turn to God to commune with him, we will find him near.  This is not always clear cut, and does not always happen as we would plan, but if we continue to pursue him, we will find him.  Often the greatest hurdles are within our own heart and mind.

 

We don’t have to repent for having feelings, but we may have to repent for how we deal with them.  When I got angry I lashed out and I’m sorry.  When I felt lonely I sought out unhealthy relationships and I repent God.  We may have to repent for the actions we have taken after having a feeling.  I also think that sometimes we need to repent for conducting ourselves apart from God when dealing with or ignoring a feeling.   If repentance is simply turning back to God, then a sin is simply turning away from Him.   In repentance we turn to listen to him, receive from him (starting with forgiveness), think as he thinks and connect with him.  Often a pattern of sin begins when we try to fill a “need” quickly, rather than investing and being patient.  Deep relationships and true connection take time; trust is not built over night.

 

The thought to talk about this was re-introduced to me during the song Green Eyes by Coldplay, and the next song on the album A Rush of Blood to the Head.   God speaks through many things and his beauty can be seen everywhere if we simply pay attention.  Over the past week or so I’ve been listening to these songs hearing the longing of a heart. 

This all stems from the innate desire placed within us for true connection.  The loss of a loved one, a friendship broken, the estrangement felt during a fight with a spouse, all feels like loneliness because it fractures connection.  True connection comes by vulnerability, openness, humility, sacrificial love and time.  God had the first longing heart, and it is he that understands connection and communion better than any other for it is he that created it.  We are upon this earth for this very purpose.  ‘In the Present build relationship with God and others.  The past can be full of regrets, the future full of ‘what ifs’ but the present is where we live.’  Be in the moment.

 

 Growing with God, means making our ‘Yes’ bigger every day.  It means that we will discover areas of our hearts that we have not invited God into.  If there is a feeling that you are experiencing, that you haven’t shared with God, connect with him in that.  If it is loneliness, draw near to him, receive him, and worship him.  Turn to him, to hear from him, to think like him, to be one with him.  Step over the hurdles that keep you from offering everything to him and receiving everything from him.  God longs for you, to fill you with more of him, to give you everything you need and even the deepest desires that you have. 

 

We Read:

·      Psalm 139:1-4, 12-14, 23-24 (Feel free to read the whole Psalm)

            (vs. 1-4) David declares that God knows everything about him. 

            (vs. 12-14) David praises God for creating us mysteriously complex and that God knew us from the beginning. 

            (vs. 23-24) David invites God to search him, to know him through and through. 

            The two types of knowing are different, the first, simply God sees everything, and the second David invites God to know him in relationship.  It is the knowledge of the first knowing that leads David to invite God to know him in the second, deep and vulnerable relationship.  It is in the relationship where healing exists.

 

·      Psalm 63:1-8  About David Longing  for God; and

·      Psalm 42 from Korah’s Clan, about longing for God, especially highlighting verse 7 where the psalmist expresses the truth of our deep and God’s deep communing.

 

 

Our Father

(from Sunday, 6/16/19)

We talked about what characteristics and traits a good father would have.  I realize that not all fathers represent God the Father well, but that most show some of his perfect traits, even if imperfectly.  We went around and everyone shared something that they thought a good father would do, or be.  Even if we have had an absent father or a father that has mistreated us, I believe most of us understand what a good father looks like.  It was good to reflect on this.  It begins to paint a picture for us of who God is as our Father.

 

We read Psalm 139:13-15, where David sings about God’s care in forming us, molding us, shaping us.  The intimate, invested care of our Father.

 

I then read Matthew 1:1, which introduces the physical lineage of Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham.  There is promise in this; the seed promised to Abraham, and the royal line that Jesus came through.  There is both a physical bloodline and a spiritual bloodline here.

 

Then I read through John 8:21-59. 

Here John records Jesus talking to the religious of his time. 

Jesus is never anything but sincere and honest. He only speaks the truth for it is who he is.  What he says is not meant to repel people but to reveal.  It may be hard to see the grace in some of what Jesus speaks because it sounds harsh, but grace is ladled throughout his speech.  I believe often we can get offended at a word and then miss the invitation that follows, the love woven throughout.  The Truth sets people free, which means, that it is lies that hold them captive.  When Jesus speaks, he reveals lies, which in turn offers the opportunity to be freed.  Many that were there that day put much stock in their ancestry, Abraham being a father of fathers to them.  But Jesus was saying essentially that the true marking of a son is the likeness of the father.  Abraham spoke the truth and delighted at the coming of Jesus.  Jesus spoke of the truth releasing more freedom into their lives and they were offended, that he would imply that they were anything but free.  How dare Jesus!  This is where those who got offended got stuck and revealed whom they were like and thus who their father was. Jesus emphasized the divine lineage, which most importantly states that, no matter your physical ancestry, or physical bloodlines, that does not dictate who you are.  Jesus was saying, in invitation, “if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free!” [John 8:36]  Even in his blunt words, he was inviting them into better, into heavenly lineage. 

Jesus dismantles the fantasies that just because your ancestor is righteous and of faith, that doesn’t mean you are.  Who is our likeness truly of?  That becomes the honest assessment, and it is in the honest, humble space that we can receive Jesus’ invitation to come, even if it’s to come to him more, to receive more freedom.  Jesus’ entire ministry on earth was an invitation to know him and His (Our) Father who He is one with.  He did not come to judge man, though he had the right to, he came to invite.  He came not to condemn but to convict, calling all into repentance and thus calling all into him. 

 

 I then read from Matthew 6, where Jesus teaches us to pray.  Before the ever so famous prayer that begins with, “Our Father….”, Jesus over and over again equates His Father to Our Father.  Read before the prayer and see.  “Since you are children of a perfect Father in heaven…. your heavenly Father…with Father God…your Father, “etc…  Jesus makes the point that he calls, declares and invites us into his family.  What keeps us from closeness with God, from receiving the invitation to be a son or a daughter, is a thin veil of lies, painted to look like an iron wall.  The stuff that we really must wade through is the pride and belief that we are faultless.  God is perfect and we must be perfect to be one with Him and we cannot be perfect without Him.  Simply put, it is He that makes us perfect.

 

Simply, humbly, hungry walk into Him.  God is calling us into him, deeper, closer, more intimately joined to him, openhearted and vulnerable.  This is the Gospel; Jesus is the Way, tearing in two the curtain that has been a barrier to us all, keeping us at a distance from God.  Jesus has made a way for us to be part of his royal, eternal bloodline. The invitation from Jesus is for us to come and be a part of his family. To be called son, daughter, brother, beloved.  He calls the orphans and widows, the abandoned and deserted, the broken and outcast. He calls the ones that nobody wants and says that they are/you are beautiful, desired, and welcome.  He calls the weak and promises strength.  He calls the humble and promises power and authority. He sets a place at his table and earnestly awaits your arrival.  He sets a feast upon that table and calls us all to get our fill. This has always been God’s intention toward us, for us to be one with him and dwell in his house.   It is man that erects barriers.  We don’t need to chip through the walls that God has created to reach him, they don’t exist.  We need to dismantle the lies that hold us captive, and in humility walk out of the forest of shame and personal issues to get to God.  God is not far off but he is near.  God does not shelter himself from us but invites us to be within his shelter.  God is literally at your elbow this instant, waiting for you.

Aaron Craner

Recap...

First I will recap on the week or so leading up to the next blog, Our Father, as I believe it lays some necessary groundwork.

 

Baptisms on Friday, June 14th.

I shared a few points that I believe are important to name:

1)   Baptism is not merely symbolic,

2)   Baptism is death,

3)   Baptism is Life, and

4)   Baptism is not a “fix all, end all”  

There is a great mystery in the midst of all Christian traditions, like baptism.

This mystery is Christ, who he is, and what he has accomplished.  Though we are called into him and all that he freely gives us, we will never be able to fully wrap our minds around him.   He desires to reveal himself to us, though he will always remain a mystery.

The Sunday before the baptisms, Josh spoke about Jesus the Christ, being God’s great mystery.  His message, Jesus by Josh C 6-9-19, is posted on the podcasts so you can listen.  He read from Colossians 2.  I encourage to listen to the teaching and read the passage.

At the baptisms, Josh read again from Colossian 2:6-7, calling us to grow in our union with him, Jesus.   This is the heart of a pilgrim.  Though we are already united to him, we are “progressing further into (our) union with him!”

 As baptism unites us to Jesus, both in his death and in his resurrection, we become part of him.  We enter into the union that has existed before time began, between Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit.  This means that His Father becomes our Father.

Aaron Craner

Intro....

Due to some limitations (i.e. my flip phone) we aren’t able to post all the teachings from the Sunday gatherings on the PodBean.  To stay connected with those that listen to the podcasts, we will post what we can here as a blog.  I will not be able to transcribe all that was talked about on any particular Sunday.  I will however do my best to communicate the spirit of what took place, including some of the contributions made by those that were at the Sunday gatherings.  In addition, we may begin to use this blog as a way to communicate other things from our community. This is my first attempt to do this sort of a thing.  If you have any suggestions, please send an e-mail directly to me at aaron.craner@gmail.com.

We hope you are encouraged.

Thank you,

Aaron Craner