Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It's Not About ME

1 John 3:14-20

The way we know we've been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn't love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don't go together.
This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

(The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson)

counterculture - noun
a culture with lifestyles and values opposed to those of the established culture
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

Ways American culture (and human nature) is opposite from a life lived for Jesus:

love of self / love for others

revenge / forgiveness

protection of self / sacrifice of self

me first / you first

get more / give more away

what is best for me / what is better for you

YouTube / being seen by God's eyes only

15 minutes of fame / legacy lived out in the lifetimes of descendants

work for glory / work as prayer (spoken only to God)

exposure / invisibility

skyscrapers and monuments / slums and orphanages

Is it just American culture that has issues with selflessness? Or is it human nature? Do we excuse too much of our self-centeredness by saying it's "second nature" (or "first nature" as we joked in Watering Hole small group last night)? Do we as Americans own the market on selfishness and simply assume that is the way God made us?

Earlier this week, we spent a day at Monticello - a glorious, intriguing monument to the life of Thomas Jefferson, built on the backs of enslaved people. He gets the glory, they get what's left of their homes' foundations on Mulberry Row.

The very next day, we drove from Charlottesville to Roanoke on the Blue Ridge Parkway. At Humpback Rocks (mileposts 5-9.3) we explored an Appalachian homeplace, including cabin, springhouse, root cellar, barn and farm equipment. I was struck by the differences between Monticello and this hard-working family setting. Monticello was all about Thomas Jefferson; Humpback Rocks was all about anonymity. The irony of Monticello is that its glory does not rightly belong to Thomas Jefferson; it belongs to the enslaved people who made it possible.

Theophilus, a monk who labored to build a cathedral in the twelfth century, writes of his invisibility and anonymity, "I have not written down my precepts for love of worldly praise, nor in hope of a reward here on this earth ... I have wanted to supply the needs and help the progress of many men for the greater honor and glory of His name."

Lord, help me be an invisible worker, faithfully constructing and creating "what I cannot even see myself." I will work for you, knowing that heaven is my greatest purpose. All of the labor for my family and church is creating a foundation for your glory and your honor.

Forgive me when I focus on me.

Read further: The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson (2005).

It's all about You, Jesus
And all this is for You
For Your glory and your fame
It's not about me
As if You should do things my way
You alone are God And I surrender to your ways

Jesus, Lover Of My Soul (It's All About You)
by Passion
album: Passion: The Road to One Day (2000)

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