Wouldn’t it be wonderful to think as a child again? Remember what it was like when you had one particular special friend? You shared all the hidden secrets that were inside you. Your friend did the same. You may have been seven or eight years old, but together, you were an invincible team. There were no barriers between you — or were there?
I remember the urgency I felt within me as I made extravagant promises to my friend. We wanted to look at each other eye to eye, and know that we trusted each other. Why did I feel the need to be extravagant and absolute? It’s because, somehow, I realized that there would be a strong chance that we’d disappoint each other if we didn’t do something specific, like a vow, a promise — maybe it was an attempt at becoming “blood sisters” — a covenant. Some children do this by making little cuts on their fingers or arms and putting their cuts together, mingling their blood. Sounds bizarre? Actually it’s a very normal response to a universal need. We realize that we grow apart, cool down in our relationships, and develop incurable frictions between each other. The desperate attempt at a blood covenant reveals the innate knowledge that blood means something. “Blood is thicker than water” refers to a kinship, a family, where you don’t turn your back on each other.
We turned away from each other anyway. What had happened? Every time I had failed, broken a trust in even a small way, deep damage came into my whole makeup. I know things aren’t made right by simply saying, “I’m sorry.” It sounds so trite, shallow. Besides, how willing was I, really, to grovel before someone and admit that what I did was unworthy of our trust, our relationship? No, I wasn’t willing to expose myself like that. But how could everything become so clean again that we could turn back time together?
When I became a Christian, making a commitment to Jesus in 1970, I contacted my friend again. Our visit was a dismal flop. Wait a minute. I was clean, wasn’t I? It seemed that all we did was argue scripture, since we had both joined different denominations. We even had trouble finding the least common denominator between us. I was a Baptist. She was in a different denomination. After a few letters back and forth, arguing scripture, I threw my hands up and forgot the relationship.
Gradually it began to dawn on me that if I possessed the Holy Spirit, I would be peaceful, gentle, joyful, patient, and all those other wonderful descriptions of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I’d be so full of life, wanting to serve my friend and take care of her all the rest of my life, we’d love each other all over again, better than we did as children.
Yes, as a Christian, little guilty feelings piled up on top of each other, producing the same stiff, formal exterior I had before I had made my vow with Jesus Christ. These formed barriers that I couldn’t explain. I knew I still wasn’t clean.
Therefore, I confessed it to Jesus the best way I could. Once I sent an entire paycheck to a television evangelist, showing I would give everything to him. I moved in with a family in Mercer, Maine. We were all seeking a more meaningful walk with the Savior. Again, with little quirks of selfishness in our nature, little strongholds in our opinions, our sins separated us. Yes, sins. Jesse would ask me often, “What does community mean to you?” I’d just get uncomfortable, fully knowing what he meant. We weren’t close, doing everything together with joy and thankfulness. I wasn’t doing well at community living. I had been faithfully turning over my paycheck each week, but gradually I spent more and more time curled up in the cab of my pickup truck.
Guilt does a good job, separating people, as leaven does a good job separating wheat particles in bread. This is what makes it rise — separation.
Humans can’t live separated, alienated from each other. There has to be a way to come clean — to have the assurance that there will be mercy if we do confess all the hidden filth that keeps us from being all we were meant to be to each other. Doesn’t it hurt to discover a promise broken, a breach of trust? A broken marriage? Even the slightest form of cheating, backbiting, or corruption naturally turns us inward, cringing, not daring to trust others with our secrets.
When our Master, the Son of God came to earth, He knew that all of us, without special help, would wind up curled up inside a truck, or anywhere we could find a little space. He designed a system, a social system based on the opposite kind of foundation than the survival of the fittest. He called this His kingdom. A good description of the way it worked is in the Book of Acts:
All those who had believed were together, and had all things in common, and they were selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them all as anyone might have need; and day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house. They were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart ... The community of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them, for there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-35)
This is the only pattern that will let us give to each other without any reserve. In this environment every selfish thought is exposed so we can change and be different. This healing brings us closer together, preventing any kind of separation.
My attempt at community may have exposed me, driving me out to sit in my pickup; but we had attempted it without the Holy Spirit. It was ridiculous to claim I had the Holy Spirit if I was allowing myself to disobey the commandments as Acts 5:32 points out, “And so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
The proof to everyone that I’m a disciple would be whether I loved my brothers and sisters as Christ loved me. “By this all men will know that you are disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
I needed someone powerful enough to pull me out of my pickup truck and help me face my condition. If I’m His, I’ll receive the correction necessary to live for others, not just seek the peace I might get for myself. A true Savior has the power to do this. He can make me into a child again; and with Him in authority, we can be given the Holy Spirit.
In such a kingdom, we can throw out the word “rejection” from our vocabulary, at least with human beings. We don’t use it on each other. We just use it on our enemies, like fear, selfishness, greed, anxiety, and other things I’d rather not mention. I can lie down at night, like a child again, knowing my friends think the best. They’re also being trained by the One who has been “thinking the best” all along. He speaks through their voices, encouraging, correcting in love, training me. Anyone who loves the Master and is willing to obey Him can be part of this wonderful life.
We want our Savior to get His deepest desire, a people that have been made one, just as He prayed for so earnestly, with much desperation.
That they may all be one ... And the glory which You have given me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and You in me, that they be perfected in unity, that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them even as You loved Me. (John 17:21-22)
We want to have this happen, to make His joy complete. This demonstration of unity is His only chance to prove He was actually the Son of God, sent to earth. If this isn’t proven, all is lost. It is worth it to us to give up our personal space, personal time, even our independence in order to be a part of this kingdom. We’ll be a big family that together will express what our Father’s heart is toward human beings.
The best part is that if we’re true, it will give Him the glory He deserves. Who wouldn’t want to see that happen?