Posted by: brittany marie | April 13, 2008

paul means small

The summer is fast approaching and I’m not prepared to meet its hot as hell days of freedom, especially in Savannah. That’s the deep south, not geographically, but culturally. So, I should be excited to return home to a place that others shell out money to visit. And I am. I’m planning trips downtown to hit up the Metro Coffee House for another glass of bubble tea…or even learning the best galleries to visit and the small quirky places that inspire anecdotes.

 

But…yes, there is always a “but.” I’m going to leave my church there and seek out a different place. The church I’m currently attending is great, but I’ve grown so used to the laid-back sincerity of Beaches Vineyard in Jacksonville that I have a hard time returning to my summer home church. I’ve heard that there is a Vineyard in Savannah, so I’m excited, but I need not create these grand expectations. They’re just normal people.

 

And while my summers have gotten progressively better, this one has a lot riding on it. This will be my last official summer of freedom…my last summer as an undergraduate. Next year this time I’ll be seeking out some sort of future…

 

I want this summer to be flipping fantastic. So fantastic, that I loose track of time. I haven’t lost track of time for a while…

 

And this is why:

Isaiah 35:8a

And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness…

 

This has been the verse upon my mind since I went to the Call with some friends a little while back. But before that verse there is this:

Isaiah 35:3

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not…”

 

And that as also stuck in my head. I want to know, how is that done? Does it mean literally? It seems too easy…and not too much of a burden for my own person. I speak a bit into someone’s life and then move on.

 

These words are recycled by Paul (I think) in Hebrews 12-13:

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

 

Again, how is that done?

 

As of late, I’ve heard a lot of teachings given about the life of Paul. He lived completely abandoned. He pressed on toward the goal to win the prize for which God had called him heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) What is more, he considered everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord, for whose sake he had lost all things. He considered them rubbish that he might gain Christ… (Philippians 3:8)

 

Paul has thrown his lot in with Christ. Yet:

 

Philippians 1:21-24

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

 

He says “Remain with you.” He knew that remaining in life would be of the best benefit to the church at Philippi. He cast his lot in with them also.

 

I once heard that the Greek term koinonia was also used in business expressions. I’m not sure of the accuracy of that but I do know that Vines Expository Dictionary defines koinonia as a having in common (koinos), partnership, fellowship, denotes the share which one has in anything, a participation, fellowship recognized and enjoyed. A less reputable source (Wikipedia) reads: In classical Greek, koinonein means “to have a share in a thing,” as when two or more people hold all things in common. It can mean “going shares” with others, thereby having “business dealings,” such as joint ownership of a ship.

 

In the end, I wonder if those passages from Isaiah and Hebrews lean toward this idea found in koinonia the word used to describe the new Christian community that sprung up in the wake of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Acts 2:42-47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 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.

 

Maybe strengthening weak knees and all that stuff isn’t what we see in our culture now. It’s not a pat on the head and a small prayer to ask God for help. It’s not a process of sympathizing with someone for only as long as they are in the room with you. It’s not a release of their burden the moment you head back into your work week and away from Sunday.

 

Maybe it’s a promise to be there. It’s a decision to cast your lot fully in with that person…to agree that you have as much a share in the outcome as they do. It’s agreeing not just to empathize but to actually experience it. If they hurt, you hurt. If they’re hungry, then you are hungry too.

 

That’s what I want for my summer. I want to leave the summer finding that I have met more people and loved harder than I ever did at UNF. I want this action of koinonia to be second nature. I want to be love, as in action, not words.

 

Maybe my expectations are too grand.

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