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One of my favorite illustrations Jack used was that of a bookshelf which he got from his mentor, Jack Winter. (Yeah, I know, Jack Frost and Jack Winter. That’s another story entirely.)
Our faith and our Christian walk is like a bookshelf full of books. There are books about prophecy, miracles, history, how to love one another, and even about salvation.
Then there is…
the bookshelf. No, not the bible, that is a library of books on the shelf.
So what is the bookshelf? “For God So Loved the world that He gave…
His love is so great that He gave his son so that we would not perish but have an everlasting life with Him.” (John 3:16 – my paraphrase) The book shelf is this knowledge, this revelation, this experience of God the Father and His great love for you. None of this is possible without the Love of God. There is no such thing as the Christian faith without the Love of God and no books without the bookshelf.
No one is saved,
No one is healed,
No one is reconciled,
No bible is canonized,
No one is martyred,
No one suffers for the cause,
No one has peace beyond understanding,
No one has Holy Spirit encounters,
Without the Unending, Sacrificial love of the Father.
His great love is the bookshelf that holds the library of our faith, experiences and what we know as Christianity.
It boggles my mind even as I write about it. It happens every time I try to grasp it. I get images in my mind and I often come up with this lame picture of a gigantic bookshelf floating through space. Not like a pressed wood assembly required one but an exquisitely handcrafted one. It’s still so lame. Then I realize, “Is there even space without the bookshelf?” Then I give up. I just can’t grasp it.
His love is so much greater!
This bookshelf illustration came back to me recently when God challenged my love concerning social issues. I was pondering what it means to be a Father’s Love person in the world we live in, particularly in light of rising racial unrest, police killing children and people shooting policemen while they sit in their cars.
I received an email from a Christian group called Missio Alliance. In that email was a link to a video of Black Lives Matter spokesperson, Michelle Higgins. Now, I like to think of myself as a forward thinking person (not to be mistaken for politically progressive) so I clicked on it. She was speaking at Urbana which is a very large yearly gathering of college kids hosted by Intervarsity in Urbana, IL.
I was probably 3 minutes in when flags started going up. I started in with “yeah, but what about.” The first of my buts. I was thinking how slanted everything was without consideration of the whole picture; but, but, but. I was about to click stop and move on with my work day but I couldn’t click. I was restrained and heard, “Listen to her”. I was becoming frustrated. I was trying to hold back my buts. I wanted to stop and look up statistics and build my rebuttal. Rebuttal? To what? To whom? The air around me? Then it came again, “Keep listening until you hear her.”
Then the sobering slap of reality hit me. “You are not who you think you are.” I thought I was full of love, grace, and understanding for all people but I was judgmental, biased and defensive. As I now meditate on 1 Cor. 13: 4-8 it’s apparent that I was, “insisting on my own way.” I was not “bearing all things.” My love had an end and I was not even bothering to listen for the truth she was speaking so that I could rejoice with it.
At Shiloh Place we have said for a long time that your feelings are valid, they are real, they are true. To say things like, “you shouldn’t feel that way” invalidates something that is true for someone. In relationships, what we think doesn’t trump what someone else feels. Whether I agree with how she got there or not there was truth in her feelings and in the people she represented. I was thinking all kinds of logical arguments in opposition to her impassioned arguments and expressions of feeling. It reminds me of a Danny Silk quote,
“The First Goal of Conversation: Understanding, not Agreement”
What does Father’s love look like in this cultural struggle we are in? It looks like hearing, not just listening while we formulate our rebuttal. And it looks like trying to understand, not trying to agree.
In my relationship with Father God he has listened to me rattle on about many emotional struggles I had that in the end were all based in my perception. Do you think he knew that? I think so. But in His unending love He listened, He heard, and He understood.
If we are to win this cultural struggle, if we are to overcome the demonic forces that would tear us apart, we are going to be called to a higher place. A place where by faith, we allow Father to change us as we exchange our need to be right for ears that hear.
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I am hoping for a chance to meet Michelle Higgins in person so that I can thank her for her boldness and to ask her to forgive me for listening in order to challenge her and not listening in order to hear her. I’m not against Blue Lives Matter and for Black Lives Matter or vise-versa. I can only speak from this side of the discussion because it is my experience. The first step is hearing, it’s understanding even if you don’t’ agree. This story needs the Bookshelf.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” Eph. 2:14
Here is a Link to the Video of Michelle Higgins if you would like to challenge yourself.
Love and Blessings! – Doug
P.Ss – if this has impacted you and you are wondering about what Father’s Love really means and who God is as Father, Join us in Clear Lake, IA August 3-6 for The Healing Power of The Father’s Love School. You will experience God in a new and powerful way that will radically change the way you live and love!