Sacred Community: Laying Down The Comfort of Me For The Glory of We
Paul David Guidry's picture

Ephesians 1:22-23 (ESV)
22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Why did Jesus come? Why did He endure all things for the joy set before Him? Why was the plan hatched in the secret strategy rooms of heaven that would reveal this mystery of the Lamb who was slain from the foundations of the earth? Why did He come and allow Himself to be born in a stable and to be placed into a feeding trough so that some 30 years later He could stand on the side of a sea and say, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you can have no part in me”? Jesus is the Word become flesh. Everything in the Word we had seen and read up to that point in history was manifest in Jesus. He was fully God and fully Man: a beautiful mystery!

Jesus paved the way for sacred community. He demonstrated what sacred community actually looks like by the way He walked the earth as the “Word become flesh.” In biblical Hebrew, the word for sacred is kadosh. It is sacred, sanctified, set apart for His glory. This community we call the Church is for His glory! We are here to expand a kingdom for the glory of His name and His fame. He demonstrated how we become a community that is called by His name and set apart for His fame. He teaches us how to lay down the comfort of “me” for the glory of “We.”

In Luke 23 Jesus demonstrates to us the process of sacred community. He is the One in whom all the fullness of God dwells. This is where He first establishes the Church, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. The crucifixion account is beyond our imagination. Go beyond the natural imaginations of pain and suffering that we associate with such a method of execution. But imagine coming to a people whom you gave up everything for, out of love, only to be rejected by them. We don’t really know what that is like!

He gave up all His glory and all His manifest majesty and all the comforts of the provision of heaven to come as a king but be born in a stable. He willingly limited Himself to the confines of human existence where He learned obedience through His suffering. His Father was still dwelling fully manifest in the infinite realm but Jesus relegated Himself to a vessel that was finite in nature. So, He learned with every step He took how to look up and see what the Father was doing and stay firmly positioned in the will and heart of the Father for that moment (John 5:19). He laid down the comfort of “me” for the glory of “We.” Why? It was because He was teaching us how to walk.

We read on in Luke 23 that Jesus endured this road to suffering as one accused, condemned, mocked and reviled. He is hung on a cross and in the midst of this unimaginable suffering of body, mind, soul and spirit He still functions in His divine identity as the Word become flesh. He is hung between two criminals. One finds the energy to mock Him but the other recognizes Jesus for who He is. Jesus had every right to take personal offense over the events of that day and the days leading up to it. But even in the midst of such incredible injustice, Jesus laid down His own rights to say, “This day you will be with me in paradise.” Why? Because He was teaching us how to walk.

Then Jesus, hanging on a cross, faces the crowds who one week celebrated His triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the sound of their voices, but then used those same voices to send Him to His death on a cross. If anyone in all of eternity had the right to be offended, it was Jesus. He bore every offense imaginable. But in this moment His eyes shift toward the crowds who put Him in this position on the cross. His eyes were looking at the ones whom He came to restore back to the Father. In this moment of offense, He sheds the rights of me to release His glory upon we. He speaks the Word of God over them. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Why does He do this? Because He is teaching us how to walk.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. Jesus comes to this moment where for the first time in all eternity, He feels cut off from Abba, His Father. As He takes on the weight of the sin of the world He becomes like the first man and the first woman after the fall when the Word literally says in the back half of Genesis 3:8 “the man and the woman hid self from the face of God...” For the first time in Jesus’ eternal existence He is not in complete unity with the Father as He bears the full weight of our actions. He feels hidden from the face of Abba. And He cries out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!” We have no idea what that feels like for Him, although I would bet that many of us have had experiences that we feel are similar. We have those moments where we feel lost, like God doesn’t know us. We feel like God doesn’t hear us - those seasons of life where we can’t hear His Voice or sense His Presence. Then, in our own ways, sometimes with words but most often in our actions, we echo those same words, “God! Why have you abandoned me!” The issue isn’t in our honest expressions of how we feel in the moment, rather, what will we do when we are in the midst of that moment. During the ultimate perceived rejection Jesus shows us why He is the Word become flesh, the Lamb without spot or wrinkle. Even in this moment where He felt rejected by the Father He still chose to trust Him with the last remaining treasure He had: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Why? Because He was teaching us how to walk.

God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son! Remember Psalm 133:1 where it says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” The Hebrew word for unity literally means, “only, or the only begotten.” This is the beauty of the Word of God! God so loved the world that He gave us the opportunity to dwell in unity - to dwell in the Only Begotten of the Father, and to experience the same unity with the Father and with each other that Jesus had experienced for all eternity. This is what Jesus prayed for in John 17! He asked the Father that we would be one as He and the Father are one! He is asking that we would learn to walk in the manner that they taught us to walk in the garden. We talked about this in the previous blog post. The first half of Genesis 3:8 literally means, “And they heard the voice of YHWH Elohim (Hebrew letters Yud Hey Vav Hey, transliterated as Yahweh) walking Himself in the garden to the Spirit of the day.” We see the Jesus as the Voice of God walking with the Father to the Holy Spirit! They were walking in complete unity with self and walking toward the divine destination of self in the Holy Spirit. When God moves He doesn’t need to move toward any particular destination because He is the destination!

Everything God does, He does with intention. From the beginning He taught us how to walk in the Only, in unity. This is why, in the new covenant, there is such an emphasis on unity. We see the admonition to make every effort to preserve the unity of the “brethren.” The Voice of the Lord is calling out for us, as family, to walk strong and centered in the presence of the Only Begotten. And when we walk in this unity there is a blessing. This blessing is not just offered and not merely optional. This blessing is commanded from the mouth of God! This is the very definition of sacred community! That is the space where we lay down the comfort of me for the glory of We.

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