Abide in me and I in you
Word Made Flesh serves world wide in 11 international fields; India (Chennai & Kolkata), Nepal, Romania, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Sierra Leon, Moldova and our own community in Thailand. These communities serve very different needs within very different cultures, one of the ways we are unified is through 9 lifestyle celebrations; intimacy, obedience, humility, community, service, simplicity, submission, brokenness, and suffering. These are applicable philosophies that guide our ministry and our lives. These celebrations are commitments that truly grow out of God heart for the poor clearly communicated in scripture. As we have developed this new Word Made Flesh community in Bangkok we’ve spent a phase studying and deconstructed these a bit. We really wanted to see them as they formed out of the scriptures; we have then integrated learning this into community discussion and devotions. My favorite part about this phase has been getting to really see why it is we believe these things, seeing them come to life in ministry and relationship. Over our next 9 letters we would like to share these reflections with each of you.
The first celebration is Intimacy with Christ; we celebrate intimacy with Jesus to be our highest calling and created purpose. Our service and active life flows from nothing else than our love of Christ and Christ within us. This has two tangible applications I would like to briefly make.
The first is the answer to the common questions where is God, Jesus, in all this suffering. As an individual my response to suffering does not flow from my natural compassion or anything of me but rather flows from Christ in me. His cry against injustice and action is seen when I allow him to act through me. The Second application flows from the first. That everything we do in service and in our lives is possible thru Christ. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. I love this imagery. I picture walking into an apple orchard. First you scan all the tree’s; you locate the one full of apples then within that tree you look for the branch with the most and say “that’s the good one”, you the climb up and pick all it’s fruit. So often we as the branch give ourselves that much credit as if we grew ourselves got our own nutrients and stand alone. The truth is without our roots our trunk we would not even exist, we would bare no fruit without the watering and nutrients the trunk delivers.
During my first experience with the poor in Lima; I was deeply impacted by the reality that much of what defines me to others in this world I had absolute nothing to do with; my ethnicity, gender, place of birth, family structure, parents, etc. The branch also does not plant itself or feed itself; all there is for us to do is to receive from Him and lift our little leaves to Him, and bear fruit through Him.
Tim and I have spent time thinking about what this practically means as we now guide not only our lives but also the tempo of the Bangkok fields and the people who serve with us. The last 6 months of ministry were amazing but extremely busy, I think it was a season that God had us discover many things and more than anything how deeply we need him. It seemed during this time each new relationship in ministry in our home and on the street brought me to a place where I felt I was slightly over our head, we would get our bearing and then the next person would bring us deeper. The effect was continually realizing God is doing this not us; and also see God work amazingly. We have begun to recognize this need of him outwardly with a day out of our work week dedicated to prayer, as well as spiritual development. It is our belief as we take this time as an offering to God, a time to separate and lift Christ up as our real work we will see and know him deeper, allowing Him to do amazing work through us.
Thank you so much for continuing to stand with us; I hope that you can really discover in your own life your daily desperate need for Jesus and the ways that you can outwardly demonstrate that He is your source. Tim will write our next reflection on Obedience.