Tag Archives: Level

Getting Direction and Flow Right

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility….
Ephesians 2:14 (NIV)

It’s quiet in my home office this morning. A steady rain is falling and resonating off the roof and window as I sip my coffee. Today marks the end of my 53rd year on this life journey which has me in a particularly introspective mood as I mull over today’s chapter.

For the past year our local gathering of Jesus’ followers has been studying the book of Acts. In this chapter-a-day journey I’ve been making my way through the letters of Paul in, more-or-less, chronological order. As a twenty-first century westerner, I’ve come to accept that it is virtually impossible for me to understand the racial, social, and religious division that existed among the first century believers. There was a giant, black-and-white dividing line between those of Jewish heritage and non-Jewish heritage. For centuries they had lived highly segregated lives. Now they were suddenly trying to live together as followers of Jesus.

The conflict within those early groups of Jesus’ followers was very real, and often intense. It was the reason for the first major “Council” of leaders of the Jesus Movement (Acts 15). Most local gatherings struggled with the division. I believe the political divide in our current era provides a hint of the divisive emotions percolating within the two groups, but I believe even that parallel falls short of the divide that Paul is addressing.

In today’s chapter Paul continues to focus his readers on the eternal, cosmic, Level Four spiritual realities in which both Jewish believer and non-Jewish believer stand on common and equal footing. All knew and experienced lack of control with our human appetites (lust, greed, pride, sloth, anger, and etc.). All had been saved by grace (unearned merit) through faith, not in who they were or what they had done to earn God’s favor, but in what Jesus had done on the cross and through His resurrection.

Having established that Level 4 reality, Paul then moves on to  address the conflict that was being felt in individuals (Level 1), between believers (Level 2), and in society (Level 3) between these sharply divided two ethnic groups. He repeatedly speaks of the “two” being “one” through what Christ had done on Level 4. Hostility is transformed into peace, division gives way to unity, and that which is separate becomes whole.

I can’t help but notice the direction and flow of thought. Paul’s focus on, and acceptance of, Level 4 reality flows down and transforms the very human conflict and struggles of Levels 1 through 3. As I look back across my 53 year journey I realize how often I have done the exact opposite. I allow my Levels 1-3 realities to flow upward and dictate my Level 4 perspective. I essentially transform my perception and belief system on Level 4 to justify and defend my entrenched prejudices on Levels 1 through 3.

This morning I contemplate 19,359 days on this Earth, and quietly wonder about however many I have left. I can’t change any of those nearly 20,000 yesterdays, but I want to make sure today, and moving forward, that I get the direction and the flow right. I want the eternal Spirit realities to transform my daily life and relationships here on this terrestrial ball. Not the other way around.

Chapter-a-Day Amos 7

hang plumb
Image by suttonhoo via Flickr

God said to me, “What do you see, Amos?”
I said, “A plumb line.”
Amos 7:8 (MSG)

Having been through a sizeable construction project in the last twelve months, I’m very familiar with levels, plumb lines, and chalk marks. When you’re raising walls, dropping a ceiling or hanging a door, you better make sure things are good and level. If you’re just a half-bubble off plumb in one spot, you’re going to have a whole mess of problems down the line. And when things get out of plumb, it takes a great work to get things back on the level. Either that, or you tear everything down, throw it out, and start from scratch.

A plumb line tells you how you measure up, and whenever God pulled out His plumb line in the days of Amos, it was not a good thing for those being measured. It generally meant that things were getting ready to be torn out and scrapped.

God’s Message is clear. In and of ourselves, there is no one who measures up to God’s exacting standards. We all start life a half-bubble off plumb, and if we’re not careful our lives end up entirely out of balance from God’s master blueprint.

When life gets crooked, unbalanced, and out of whack, just remember that Jesus was a carpenter by trade. Through His great work, the work of Life’s master carpenter, our out-of-balance lives can be brought back even with God’s plumb line.

You just have to turn the entire project over and let Him be the foreman.

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