Tuesday Re-mix –
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” I John 4:12
Born into a poor family in Lorraine, France, Nicholas Herman would grow up to do a stint in the army (where the food was free). Still a young man when he got out of the army, he would eventually walk into a monastery, where he would take a job as a kitchen worker. Over time, he developed the purest and simplest of relationships with God and took on the name “Brother Lawrence”. He eventually wrote “Practicing the Presence of God”, a simple treatise about a simple lifestyle and a simple approach to the Christian life. Four Hundred years later, that little book is still regarded as one of the great pieces of Christian literature.
It is not a complicated concept, practicing the presence of God. In fact, it is a remarkably simple concept…almost Zen-like simplicity. But it is easier said than done. We understand intellectually that God is omnipresent, but in the bustle and chaos and pain of our human condition, we have a hard time really living as if we believe it. Even in environments as sacred as our gathered worship or ministry endeavors or other church functions, we often “forget” Who it is all about. In our staff meetings and our committee meetings and our business meetings, we often conduct ourselves as if God is nowhere to be found, and is certainly not in earshot of us. In short, even in the church (maybe especially in the church) we behave horribly because we simply do not practice the presence of God.
In my own search for simplicity, I have found a simple idea to help me practice the presence of God, at least when I am around fellow Christians. It may not work 100% of the time, but I have found it to be effective most of the time. And its simplicity is remarkable: I look for Christ in my fellow Christians–ALL of them.
I often refer to this simple concept as “the Principle of the Spirit” (from Five Principles of Unity). It has transformed my life.
I have begun to teach myself the simple discipline of looking for Christ in every fellow Christian I encounter. I look for Christ-like characteristics and for fruit of the Spirit, and when I find them, I simply relate to the Christ in that person. I have found that, even when I strongly disagree with a brother in Christ or even when I find a sister’s behavior on an occasion to be particularly bad, I can still find Christ-like characteristics in them and can focus on that side of them. It has actually changed some very difficult relationships in my life to healthy ones. And I didn’t need psychotherapy to do it. It was a simple solution.
In a world where we as Christians are bombarded with the complexities of why bad things happen to good people or of how a loving God could permit this to happen or that to happen, or of theological puzzles like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, it is refreshing to find pure, simple truths to which we can return at the end of the day. Christ Himself lives in every believer. That’s simple enough for me. I can work with that.
© Blake Coffee
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