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Jesus In, Jesus Out – Wrong in, Blocked Out

• Greg Boyd

Greg preached this morning about how to cultivate a perspective of giving that demonstrates freedom in Christ. He shared that accepting our culture’s matrix of lies keeps us from the natural expression of giving that should characterize a follower of Jesus.

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Greg preached this morning about how to cultivate a perspective of giving that demonstrates freedom in Christ. He shared that accepting our culture’s matrix of lies keeps us from the natural expression of giving that should characterize a follower of Jesus.

Greg stated that constipation is analogous to the spiritual act of giving. Physical constipation is typically caused when people: 1. Do not eat the right things, or 2. Believe the wrong things. When people do not eat the right things, this usually means not drinking enough water or not eating foods high in fiber. However, it can also mean eating things that are not meant to be eaten (called pica). Greg shared stories of people who had eaten televisions and screwdrivers. Clearly, eating these things will cause the digestive system serious hardship. Physical constipation can also be caused when people keep their body from performing the normal process of a bowel movement. By not believing what is healthy for the body to do, they cause themselves immense pain. If the right things are put in, then the right things come out. In contrast, if the wrong things are put in, then blockage occurs. The diagram below illustrates spiritually how the “right in” secures the “right out.”

The spiritual principle is that God has created us with a need that only he can meet. When the triune God pours his love into us through Jesus to meet this need (“right in”), then the natural expression is love from us toward others (“right out”).

Scripture describes Jesus’ life flowing into us as costly (Hebrews 12:1-2), freely given (John 3:16), and a generous act that makes us “rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). In the early church we see the outward impact (“right out”) of this experience of Jesus’ love (“right in”). One example is in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, which describes the churches in Macedonia. They gave in spite of their difficult circumstances (verse 2) In fact, they begged for the privilege to give (verse 4). What was important is that they gave themselves first to God and then to others (verse 5). Another example is in Acts 2:44-46 where the church was marked by “glad and generous hearts.” They gave sacrificially to others with no record of being told to give. Furthermore, Barnabas sold his field and gave the money to the church leaders (Acts 4:36-37). Finally, in Luke 7:36-50 a prostitute sacrifices expensive ointment to wash Jesus’ feet as an act of worship. These are examples of the natural flow of living and walking in the Spirit. The life of Jesus was poured into their life, and they poured that life out to others. We participate in the very same Spirit that infused the early church. This “right in” and “right out” is the economy of God. A spirit of joy, abandonment, and freedom marks it.

What keeps us from experiencing this abundant life? Referring back to the original analogy, Greg suggested that many of us are spiritually constipated. First, we might be eating the wrong things, suffering from spiritual pica. We eat what the matrix of our culture (the pattern of lies of this world) tells us we should eat. However, our spiritual bodies are not meant to receive life from beauty, achievement, riches, religion, etc. There is no nutrition in these things. If this is our food then it will be difficult for the right thing to be expressed. We will experience giving as drudgery; there will be a lack of joy, freedom, and abandonment. What we need is a change of diet. We need to take in Jesus’ love (“right in”) which will then overflow to others (“right out”). The only source of life that satisfies is his love. Second, we might have the wrong beliefs. Again, our cultural matrix lies about what to believe. It tells us that we need to cling to our possessions; if we let go then we will die. However, in our effort to defend and protect what is “ours” we deny what is natural to us (“right out”). This response is severely detrimental to us. It harms us and our ability to impact the kingdom of God. Luke 6:36-38 illustrates this both spiritually and financially. Spiritually, this passage states that when we fail to forgive and show mercy then we ourselves will not experience forgiveness and mercy. Financially, this passage demonstrates that what we give affects what we receive (see also 2 Corinthians 9:6 and Proverbs 11:24-25). It would seem that by clinging to our things we have more for us, but in God’s economy we receive more through our giving.

The challenge for us is to: 1. Eat right – Drink in God’s unsurpassable love in Christ, and 2. Believe right – Christ-like generosity is good for us. This is how the kingdom of God is spread.

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