held together by Jesus
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
I read a quote of a quote the other day. The author wrote, in response to the question "How do you decide who you learn from?": "The college I attended had a saying: All truth is God's truth. I don't feel afraid of encountering truth wherever it is found. I believe God's face is reflected in every human being, God's wisdom is within every story, and Christ holds all things together. For those who watch with expectancy to witness the face of God, wisdom of God, and hands of Christ in every person and moment, there's no lack of stunning material to learn from. For many years, I was pretty hardcore "reformed" in theology and cared a lot about getting things "right". Y'all. Life is so much better when you come to your days looking for what's good and true and beautiful rather than watching out for what's wrong."
Do I come to my days looking for what's good and true and beautiful?
As the author pointed out - Christ holds all things together. Taken directly from Colossians 1, it's even better than that:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
There are so many comforting, stable, finished words and thoughts in this passage. Nevertheless, I think unfortunately there's many days that I wake up skeptical, afraid, closed-fisted, untrusting, and distanced. My joy is snuffed and my delight is suppressed because I am not resting in the preeminence of Christ. There are so many circumstances that I could learn and grow through - relationships, conversations, community and school situations, world events - if I would allow myself to experience them through truth-filled ears and eyes instead of distancing myself from them for fear of discomfort of struggle. I am living life with an earthly focus, and I'm forgetting that the Kingdom I'm a part of, isn't of this world.
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. (John 18:36-38)
It's so interesting to me that Pilate didn't even wait for a response from Jesus after asking, "What is truth?" Almost as if he didn't have to.... almost as if the truth was so prevalent and present that the question seemed unnecessary. Jesus was Truth, and He was right there.
We live in a day of great grace where we have access to the written Truth and direct access to the Truth Himself, through Jesus Christ. Because we can trust His preeminence and His voice, we are free to live and move and breathe and delight in the gifts He gives us here on earth. We need not receive them with skepticism or fear, but rather with joy and gratitude.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.' (Acts 17:24-28, ESV)
Another version of the Bible puts those last verses this way:
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; (Acts 17:27-28 KJV)
He is not far from any of us! And He intends that we would seek Him, and that we would find Him, and that we would delight in Him - that we would look around at the people and circumstances in our lives and that in all of those, we would see Christ reflected and truth revealed. Because of this, I can greet each day expectantly and with anticipation, rather than with fear and distrust...
that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:6-7)
that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.(I Timothy 1:9-11)
that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (James 1:3)
that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (I Peter 1:20-21)
that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (II Peter 3:3-4)
There are those around us who will forget the promise, and who will operate as though there is no promise, and it is because they have not believed the promise and accepted the promise. But we do not have to live accordingly, because we have not so learned Christ. Rather, we have learned Christ as it is so well stated in all of Ephesians 4, and especially in verses 4-6:
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
And we are kept...
... "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:5-9)
I can come to my days looking for what's good and true and beautiful, even in the midst of ungodliness, lawlessness, suffering, trial, and scoffing, because I am kept by the power of God, and He is above all, and through all, and in us all who are believers. Oh, that my mind would be focused on these things!