We live in a world that isolates us – brokenness and loneliness are all around, and they’re caused by our Enemy who is at war with God. But Jesus overcame the Enemy, and now we can all not only be healed of our own brokenness, but we have also been gifted to bring healing and freedom to other’s lives as well!
We sat down with Melany to hear some of her story.
Click here to see that interview.
Warfare is not a light subject – just ask someone who’s been in a war. (Seth has, and he talks a little about his experience in this sermon.) And if a worldly, physical war is a big deal, how much more so must the spiritual war be?! This spiritual war that we’re in is not a joke. We see the collateral damage all around us – in others, and in ourselves. We even see it in our individualism, which is an idol of our modern culture.
“The Lord helps those who help themselves” is NOT in the Bible. It, along with phrases like, “You’re not the boss of me”, or “You do you” are phrases that are intended to get us, as individuals, “off the hook” as far as being accountable to others. We learn to look out for ourselves, and we think that’s the right thing to do.
Loneliness and isolation kill people from the inside out. It’s not a small thing in our society that this attitude of “looking out for #1” creates a wake of broken and damaged people. Like an orphan who doesn’t get the nurturing that’s needed as a child from parents who chose instead to do what’s easier for them than accept the responsibility of nurturing their child, the spiritual war that we’re all in has impacted us in a similar way. This is the type of impact that individualism has on all of us – but we don’t realize it because for most of us, there is another side to individualism that seems to be working out pretty well. We notice hurting people now and then, but what do we do with that? At a certain point our society makes it easier for us to disengage from the brokenness and pain of others, and seek our own happiness on our own terms.
In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul says, “You were hopelessly stranded without God in a fractured world. But now, because of Jesus and his sacrifice, all that has changed. God gathered you, who were so far away, and brought you near to him… The great preacher of peace and love came for you, and his voice found those of you who were near and those who were far away, so you are no longer outcasts and wanderers, but citizens with God’s people, members of God’s holy family, residents of his household, you are being built on a solid foundation. This building is joined together stone by stone, in Him you are being built together, and you’re creating a sacred dwelling place among you where God can live in his Spirit.”
Breaking through some of the challenges that come with loneliness and brokenness is not easy. It’s hard work for God to put us together “stone by stone”. Breaking out of solitary confinement isn’t an easy transition for anyone. But slowly – bit by bit, year by year, we can become joined together as God’s family – the Church. “On this Rock [Jesus] I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
In Ephesians 4, Paul says, “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling. For you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle, be patient with each another, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love. He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. When he ascended to the heights, he put captivity in chains, and in his triumph he gave gifts to his people.”
Jesus is the victor – He won the war, and these verses are describing his victory procession, where he marches through the streets with us cheering, and our enemies in chains behind Him. Imagine that picture! And it says that Jesus didn’t get gifts, but that he GAVE gifts to us – gifts to become Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, and now we are to use those gifts he gave us to build others up. Then, as each of us do our work, it helps others grow so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
You’ve been given the ability to do certain things really well. And with those gifts, you’ve been given responsibility within the Body of Christ. We are ALL ministers. God has given us to each other. You have a role to play, and the rest of the body needs you. As we’re building and strengthening this body, part of what we’re doing is confronting the loneliness and the brokenness that’s out there, even though we have an Enemy that’s trying to keep us from doing that. How will we know if we are fighting this spiritual war well? One way is to accept responsibility for others more, and not just focus on ourselves and say we follow Jesus!
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