Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"I" and "We" - Part 3

Here is an example of the power of "we" from my own experience. (Read Part 1 and Part 2)

A group of friends and I had been meeting for a while weekly at a local coffee shop to share a time of confession, prayer, and encouragement. This has been, in some ways, our retreat from the battle that rages with the Enemy to the shelter and healing of our Lord. However, just because this time is dedicated to encouragement and building up of the body does not mean that the battle is not enjoined with the world around us. Consider this series of events that occurred over a period of a few months; look at the circle of blessings that is realized by making our retreat from the battle a time of focus on Jehovah and on His childern (our brothers and sisters) rather than a retreat from all things spiritual.

  • One night, as we stood "circled-up" at about 11:00 p.m. closing our time together in prayer, a man drove up to us, got out, and told us the he recognized we were praying. He told us that he needed prayer and that his life was a shambles and he recognized his need for God. A few months later, he gave his life to Christ and was baptized. This was the culmination of one journey that began when Jehovah showed him where he needed to be in order to grow and heal and the beginning of a new journey of wonder and amazement in living a life for God alone.

  • A week after this happened, another man who had been joining us with his son was also baptized and gave his life to Christ. This was the result of a calling from Jehovah through his son, then through a few other men, and finally in seeing the joy and blessing of the first man’s commitment a few days before.

  • The very next night, as we confess and pray, one of our faithful, long-time Christians, is moved by God through the struggles of his brothers to finally release the hold he has on his own live and give it over to Jehovah, seeking His will and His work and asking that God bless him as he fights for a better relationship with his Father.

  • The first friend I mentioned asked a coworker to come out with him one night, not long after his own baptism. Logistically, this was a bad night: a transformer just outside the coffee shop had blown, leaving us with (gasp!) no coffee and no light but the stars and moon. Spiritually, it was a powerful night. This coworker was moved by what he witnessed. Even though various things prevented him from returning for the next three months, he began on his own to immerse himself in God’s word. When he returned, that very night he chose to commit to Jehovah and was baptized.
These events are by no means coincidental! It is so apparent how God works in our lives, using one brother and his struggles and triumphs to lift up another. "I" cannot do this. "I" is left by himself. "We" are working for good. "We" are looking out for one another. "We" are lifting our brothers and sisters up. This is Jehovah’s intended plan. Are we not told:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 (NIV)
This is not just a personal healing but a healing of everyone involved – both the confessor and those to whom he confesses. All are blessed when one humbles himself before God and man, seeking to build up the body. One may start it, but that one is never an "I", only a part of the "We". And, oddly enough, the one person knows this.

Consider the example of Ezra. When Ezra comes out of captivity to the newly rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, he soon discovers that the returned exiles have been sinning by intermarrying with the other peoples in the land – the same sin that contributed to their straying from Jehovah in the first place. What does he do? Does he rail against them, condemning them of their sin? Does he preach an eloquent lesson describing how small steps in the wrong direction will eventually lead to being completely lost? No! He tears his clothes, pulls hair from his head and beard, weeps, fasts, and prays for forgiveness for our sins (not their sins, ours) of turning away from Jehovah. To this action by Ezra, the people respond with this commitment:

1Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly,. 2Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. 3So now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4"Arise! For this matter is your responsibility, but we will be with you; be courageous and act."
Ezra 10:1-4 (NASB)
Ezra’s obvious sorrow, repentance for his own sin, as well as that of the people – basically his good example, not lived in secret but there for all to see without question – lead the entire remnant of Israel to not only repent of their sin but to remove that sin from their lives. The price that they paid for their sin was high - sending away the women and children of mixed marriages must have been painful indeed - but the pain of separation form Jehovah is infinitely greater. They recognized that their sin had its consequence and the example of Ezra helped convince them that a relationship with the God of Creation is worth any price, and so they were blessed with a revival in the land.

(Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to the "I" and "WE" series. Coming soon!)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4


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1 comment:

Anne said...

Amen!

Notice this "we":

Matthew 6:9-13 "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." NKJV

"Our" Father.

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