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Jun 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

June 26, 2022

Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Welcome to RefleXion               May the Spirit of the Lord be with you all!

The inner life and the outer life.  If you’re like me, you may have had a season focused on the outer life and attention to service and right action.  In the past several years, the Lord has given me an invitation to focus on my inner life, and I know that’s often what I share about.  But both inward and outward attention to God are necessary.  To do the outward without the right motivation is a clanging cymbal; to be only attending to self-awareness may be a stream impeded.  I’d like to share an image that our friend, Bill Dogterom, posted on social media recently.

“Simultaneity is Thomas Kelly‘s word for both inward attention to the work and way of God in us, and outward attention to the place and ways we are in the world. I wonder (Bill says) if being able to live in both at once is similar to learning to play the piano with both hands – first beginning one after the other then slowly integrating them until they are both able to play fluidly together. Never forgetting the melody of the Kingdom which enables the music.”

Since Bill quoted Thomas Kelly, I went to my book A Testament of Devotion by Kelly.  If you aren’t familiar, Thomas R. Kelly was considered a Quaker mystic–a writer, speaker, scholar, who lived in the early 1900’s.  I’m reading a few sentences from the book:

“There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once.  On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs.  But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathing.  The secular world of today values and cultivates only the first level, assured that there is where the real business of mankind is done and scorns, or smiles in tolerant amusement, at the cultivation of the second level–a luxury enterprise, a vestige of superstition, an occupation for special temperaments; but some men know that the deep level of prayer and of divine attendance is the most important thing in the world, because it is at this deep level that the real business of life is determined.”

This is simultaneity.  Inflow and Outflow–we are always living a life of overflow.  What happens in us is expressed outwardly.  We know the Beatitude that encourages us, “Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see God.”   And, there’s a Proverb that says, Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”  Not this OR that, but Both/And.

So, I hope and pray that my life is learning to play the piano with both hands, in harmony with the melody of the Kingdom. Join me in prayer, will you:  Lord God, thank you for creating us to make music, to be engaged in harmony with Your Spirit.  We know it is not only our work, but the way of our work that becomes a blessing.  Let us be attuned to the Spirit who orchestrates our inner life and to Your work and ways in the world.  Give us opportunities to be a blessing, Lord, for the Kingdom’s sake.  Thank you for Your Presence with us, this morning and always.     Amen

Today’s Talk: Guy Gray

Three Dimensions of Christian Faith and Life

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida,
while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to
pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw
that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.
And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by
them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all
saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be
afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for
they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when
they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and
began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in
villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might
touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Mark 6:45-56

We will look at three images from our passage:
• Jesus on the Mountain
• Jesus in the storm
• Jesus on the shore
Each image represents one important dimension of Christian Faith and Life

1. Jesus on the mountain, alone, praying for his disciples
Mountain scenes in the gospel are always scenes of transcendent glory.
This mountain scene in Mark 6
is a preview of another mountain scene soon to come in Mark 9 – Jesus on the mount of transfiguration.
The mount of transfiguration is clearly a picture of the transcendent glory of Jesus. It is also a preview –
a preview of Jesus in his post resurrection glory as the risen Lord.
As we read about Jesus on the mountain in Mark 6, it’s clear that Mark wants us to focus exclusively on
Jesus. Mark is the gospel of non stop action. It’s miracle after miracle and controversy after
controversy. Even chapter 6 is filled with intense descriptions of crowds, controversy, and action. But
then comes this unexpected scene with Jesus by himself. The crowds are gone. Even the disciples are
gone. And the text tells us clearly that Jesus is all alone.
Even in the dark of night, with the disciples miles away on the water in a small boat, Jesus sees them.
This is amazing.
The point of the story is to cause us to pause and consider Jesus. Who is Jesus?
If I could chose one word to describe this scene, I would call it “majesty”. This is the unique glory of
Jesus on display. This scene, along with the other mountain scenes and other scenes in the gospel
portray the unique glory of who Jesus is. He is unlike any other.
This is the first important dimension of my Christian Life and Faith. Everything depends on my vision of
who Jesus is. But actually, it’s not “my” vision of Jesus. It’s better to say, it is the biblical vision of Jesus
that matters.
Think of this dimension of Christian faith and life as the “theological” dimension.
After 50 years of studying the biblical vision of who Jesus is, I am more convinced than ever that Jesus is
utterly unique. He is the incarnate Son of God, who died for our sins, and rose again as Lord and King of
a new creation. This is the majesty of Jesus.

2. The next image is Jesus in the storm, walking of the water, intending to pass by the disciples
The disciples are struggling at the oars with the wind against them. It’s 3 am, pitch dark. They are
exhausted and afraid. Jesus appears walking on the water. But for some reason, he intends to pass
them by.
All of this is mysterious. If there is one word to describe this whole scene, it is the word “mystery”.
This is the second important dimension of my Christian life. I call it “ the mystery of Jesus in our lived
I believe I will experience the presence and power of Christ in my life, but I don’t know when, or how, or
what it is going to look like.
I have had many profound experiences of Christ’s presence in my life. Often, they come in the most
random and unexpected ways!
But on the other hand, I also believe I can “put myself in the way of experiencing Christ.” There are
practices I can engage in that may open my heart to experience Christ. One practice that has helped me
I learned from reading St. Augustine’s Confessions. He makes a startling assertion. He says the most
likely place we can encounter God is in the past! He reasons that every experience in the present
instantly moves into the past. Because of that, it is in our memory that we can encounter Christ. He
teaches us to go back though our life experiences, moving through them prayerfully. Bringing them
before God in prayer and asking God to show us where he was in each experience. Praying to see God’s
grace and guidance and intervention. Giving thanks.
Yet even this is not a guarantee we will experience Christ. Christ is free to do what he will in his time
and way.

3. The third image is Jesus on the shore with a crowd of hurting people
No doubt the disciples were still in shock, processing what they just experienced. But Jesus is moving
forward into ministry. This image of Jesus with the crowd of hurting people is an image of the heart of
God for ministry to hurting and broken lives. One word we could use for this image is the word
This is the third important dimension of my Christina faith and life.
Jesus wants his disciples to move beyond simply reflecting on their personal experience with Jesus. He
wants them to join him on mission by seeing this crowd of hurting people and joining him in moving to
meet their spiritual and physical needs.

One way to think of these three dimensions is like this:
• The theological dimension
• The experiential dimension
• The missional/ministry dimension
We must hold these three dimensions closely together. Often people will focus on just one, or maybe
two of these dimension. But truly knowing and following involves all three.

Christians are on a life quest to know and follow Jesus.
• It’s a life quest to develop a biblical vision of who Jesus is in the unique glory of his person.
• It’s a life quest to experience Jesus’ presence, power, and love in our lived experience.
• It’s a life quest to join Jesus in his ministry to hurting people in our broken world.

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