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One Love
One Blood
One Life you got to do what you should
One Life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers


One Life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

~U2, One

Introduction

According to Bill Flagan (1995), U2’s song, “One”, was composed in the midst of conflict as band members argued over the direction of U2’s sound during the recording of their album “Achtung Baby.” The disagreement was so intense that it almost resulted in the band’s end.  That was until they rallied around the improvised writing of “One.”

Although this song was written in the context of the conflict within U2, I believe it is a fitting anthem for the Church (Ekklesia) of Jesus Christ to rally around today.  For we are truly one family and there is indeed only “one love”, “one blood” and“one life”among us.  We share in “One Love,” for God is Love (1 John 4:8), we have been redeemed and washed by the same “Blood” and we share “One Life” which is none other than Christ Himself, for Christ is the Eternal Life (1 John 1) and is our very Life (Gal 2:20, Col 3:4).

However, if you are not quite comfortable with the use of “secular” music as our rally cry, the words of Paul in his letter to the Ephesian Church might be an adequate substitute:

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism;one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”(Eph 4:2-6)

One Family

The Bible makes it clear that as Christians we are one family.  God is our Father and Christ is our eldest brother (Rom 8:29).  All of us who were bought up going to church know that the Bible says we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  However, we need to reexamine ourselves and ask, “Do we really know this?”  Are these merely words and titles or is it the reality among us?  Are we able to confess to one another, even to those we don’t like, “You are my brother” or “You are my sister”?  Furthermore, if we claim to know this, do we practice it?  Do we really treat each other as actual family or is it merely talk?  After all, is not faith without action dead (James 2:26)?

To demonstrate the kind relationships and bonds that family entails, I would like to use an example from my own experience. When I was younger, my parents constantly reminded and even nagged me about the importance of family.  They sometimes asked me (in their Chinese accents) “Why do you care more about your friends than your own family?” (I am guilty as charged!).  They would continue by saying “your friends will come and go but your family will always be there for you.”

Back then I ignored their comments, but now I realize how true their words are.  Friends and acquaintances have come and gone in my life, yet I still live at home freeloading off my parents (and I will continue to do so for quite some time).  My family is definitely not ideal.  You could even say that we are dysfunctional.  There are fights, disagreements and misunderstandings much of the time.  However, in the end the bonds of flesh and blood are strong enough to hold us together through thick and thin.

One Blood

I have recently come to the revelation that the familial bonds of flesh and blood extend beyond my biological lineage.  However, I had to endure much loneliness and isolation to perceive this.  As I stated in my last entry, it’s been a while since I’ve taken part in Christian community and it has left a void in my life.  However, it has helped me to appreciate the Christian interactions that I come upon.

This past Christmas a black Christian friend from out of town stayed at my place.  One night we got talking and started to share our lives with each other.  As my friend was sharing some of his thoughts, questions and struggles, I felt a real connection with him.  My eyes were opened and I began perceive that this friend was really a brother.  Not just figuratively but literally when we look at it through the spiritual realities made known through Christ.  I then said to him:

“You are Black and I am Chinese, but we are truly brothers because we share the same blood and we share the same flesh.  For Christ’s blood runs within our veins and His flesh in our bodies because we both partake and eat of His flesh and drink of his blood.”

Similarly, Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians expresses this in his way saying:

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the fellowship of the blood of Christ?  The bread which we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ?  Seeing that there is one bread, we who are many are one Body; for we partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor 10:16-18)

As Christians, we all share the same flesh and blood, therefore we are family whether we like it or not.

One Spirit

Furthermore, not only do we all share in the same flesh and blood, but we are connected by the same Spirit.

“For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greek, slave or free–and we are all given the one Spirit to drink.”(1cor:12-13)

Now, if the bonds of flesh and blood can bind us together as a family, how much more shall the unity of the spirit bring us together as one?  Furthermore, if the bonds of flesh and blood can keep earthly families together, then how much more shall the spiritual bonds of flesh, blood and spirit keep the family of God together? And being one in spirit, shall we not “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”(Eph 4:3).  If this is so, then why do we experience so much division over insignificant things?

Faith in action

Perhaps a spiritual revelation that we are family and the love flowing from the Spirit is what empowered the early church to live as a family.  In the book of Acts it records that:

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.“ Acts 2:44-47

In addition, The Apology of Aristides (130 CE), shows how some early Christians cared for each other.

If there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food.”

How many issues could be resolved if we saw each other as brothers and sisters and willingly sacrificed for one another?  What if we gave of ourselves to the extent that we sacrificed of our time, energy, money, even our very lives!! After all, this is what we do for family. (However, this is not to be done out of compulsion, but is the result of being transformed and renewed day by day).

Concerning sacrificial living for one another, 1 John 3:16-18 says “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Paul records of an instance of extravagant giving:

“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.For I testify that they gave as much as they were able,and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharingin this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. (2 Cor 8:1-5)

May we become like the Macedonian church in giving more than we are able to and doing so with joy.

Bearing with One Another

Although I have established that we are a family, I am not saying that everything will automatically be perfect.  Being a family involves good times and bad times.  It inevitably comes with arguments, misunderstandings and feeling extremely irritated at each other.  The Bible is not oblivious to this either, which is why it instructs us to:

“be longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4:2)

“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ also forgave you.” (Eph 4:32)

Sometimes being a family involves “LONG-suffering” at the hands of one another.  Although we should always try to solve our problems sometimes there may be nothing more that we can do except to bear with one another, continually forgiving each other just as we have been forgiven by God.  True family does not separate at the first sign of conflict and hardship, rather it sticks together and overcomes all obstacles together.

Conclusion

We are one family.  However, appropriating this in our own lives involves more than the mere mental acknowledgement of this fact.  Most Christians already do know this and it hasn’t transformed us.  I believe that our need is that God would do a work in all of us so that we would have a deeper understanding of the family of God.  Not just mere mental understanding but divine revelation in our spirits.

Thus, I pray that our eyes may be opened to see each other with renewed eyes.  I pray that we would see each other as true brothers and sisters who share the same Flesh, Blood and Spirit.  I pray that we would learn to function as a family, sharing our resources and our lives.  I pray that we would be reconciled to one another, forgiving each other and bearing with one another in love.  I pray that we would carry each other’s burdens and share in each other’s joys and pains.  I pray that we would be the kind of family God seeks.  Lastly, I pray according to the words of Jesus when He prayed to his Father:

“that they may all be one.  As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:21-23)

References

Flanagan, Bill (1995). U2 at the End of the World. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-31154-0. pp. 6-11.

With a personal theme song like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and a Facebook profile that reads “Leaving Christianity to Follow Jesus” under the religion category, many people, especially other fellow Christians, wonder whether I have lost my way.

When other Christians ask me “what church do you go to?” and I respond with “I don’t go to church at the moment”  its interesting to see the confused looks on people’s faces who might be wondering whether I am back sliding in my Faith.

All of this confusion is quite understandable, especially since this is the complete opposite of who I used to be.  In past I used to be a very zealous Christian.  I thought I had everything together and thought I had everything figured out.   I was the one who faithfully attended church every Sunday and judged those who missed out.   I engaged in all the activities evangelical Christianity had to offer, such as mission work, “winning” souls for Christ, speaking against abortion and gay marriage in the name of God, battling evolution etc.  I pridefully thought that I was better than other Christians who did not engage in the things that I did.  I judged and criticized them all as being backsliders and disobedient to God.  However, as the books of the gospels show us, like the pharisees, in our zealousness for God, we may actually miss Him.  Perhaps we may even reject Him and crucify Him.   We may even end up persecuting some of the Lord’s followers, our own brothers and sisters.  All this was true of me, I was a pharisee and I couldn’t see it.  Now I see things in a different light.

Before moving further, I would like to take a moment to say that if you or anyone has ever been a target of my judgement and zeal, I humbly admit I was wrong and I’m sorry.

This now brings us to the question, “what happened to you?”

I do not wish to go into detail concerning everything that I went through, but the short answer is this…I was broken down and ripped to pieces.   In 2007, through intense stress, bouts of depression, failing out of my university program (and getting back in under special circumstances), arguments in the ministries that I served in and cancer showing up in my family, the old life I had was destroyed.  I pretty much died.  This time of hardship provided me the opportunity to deeply question and even doubt everything concerning life, faith, Jesus, the Gospel and the Christianity that I knew.

In the midst of everything that I was going through, I was tempted many times to leave this christian stuff altogether.  Why would a loving God allow all of this to happen to His child all at one time?  If he never leaves me nor forsakes me (Heb 13:5), why does it feel like that during the hardest times of my life? I do not subscribe to a prosperity gospel where God will make everything in your life better, but neither did I think that God would allow his children to undergo extreme hardship in the manner I experienced.  I am not saying that God is the author of everything I went through, but it was very difficult to find Him in the midst of it.

During the times when I was tempted to leave God and curse God, the words of Peter went through my mind. When he was asked by Christ “Are you also going to leave?” Peter replied “Lord, to whom would we go?  You have the words that give eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” These words resonated within me and enabled me to hold on tight, though it may have been by a thread.  To whom else or what else could I have gone? I knew and believed with all my heart that Christ is the Way.  And I was beginning to learn that Christ is not just the way to eternal life, but that he IS The Eternal Life Himself  (1 John 1).    From that point on I was slowly able to move on and climb out of the pits, although I am still prone to fall back into depression and despair.

A Chinese Christian, Watchman Nee, says in his book “Release of the Spirit:”  “The inward man (spirit) is freed only after the outward man (soul) is destroyed. This is the basic road to God’s service.”  I have found this principle working in my life. In dying, a new life emerged and is progressively emerging, a life that is different from the old.  Once again I am not saying that God is the author of everything I went through.  I admit that I don’t know who or what is to blame.  But I do know one thing…I was changed through it all…for the better.  The hardship provided me the opportunity to deal with some sins, bitterness and character issues in my life, thus proving what is said in James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Furthermore, I began to feel a deep hunger for something more in life and in my Christian faith.   Although I took part in many Christian activities in the past, I find now that many of those same activities leave me empty and dry.   Although I used to claim that I had a “relationship with God”, I have come to the sobering conclusion that I hardly know Him at all.  Sure I knew a lot about Him from what I read in the Bible but I couldn’t really say that I knew Him in a deep experiential way.  Now my desires are for the deeper things of Christ and a knowledge of Him that goes beyond theology, head knowledge and even emotional experiences.  Those things are not bad in themselves, but I want to go beyond them towards something deeper.  I want to be like Paul who cried out concerning all his past religious accomplishments: “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

In addition, I have become dissatisfied with the Christianity that has been handed down to me.  In fact, growing within me was a deep sense that there is something huge missing in the church and in the lives of many Christians today.  As well, I am continuously discovering how much of our modern “Christianity” is not Christianity at all.  When I read the word of the gospels and compare it to modern western Christianity, I have great difficulty reconciling the two.

Over the past 2 years I have been on a search for those missing pieces.  I don’t know if I ever will completely find everything I am looking for, because even the Bible describes the riches in Christ as “unsearchable” (Eph 3:8).  However, I do know that there is more.

I have discovered many interesting things along the way.  The purpose of this blog to highlight some of the things I have learned and to help myself to put my scattered thoughts into words.

In closing, I think Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians summarizes some of what I am looking for quite well:  “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

Thanks you for taking time to read.

I believe in the Kingdom Come

Then all the colours will bleed into one

Bleed into one

But yes I’m still running.

You broke the bonds and You loosed the chains

Carried the cross of my shame

Oh my shame

You know I believe it

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

~U2 “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

August 2017
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