Today, some dear friends of 5twelve (Peter and Karin Rasmussen) met with our church leadership to just pour some life and encouragement into us.
If you follow this blog, you know there have been fewer posts lately. Sometimes, the Lord just says, “Stop and think and rest,” and I feel like He’s been saying that to me this month. Today, Pete said something so simple yet profound, and I think we all need to hear it—”Less is more.”
Jesus saw a woman giving her last two pennies in her offering at temple (Mark 12:41-44), and He said she gave far more than the wealthy people who tithed (gave 10% of everything they had). Why? Some of us think He was saying we should sell everything and give it to the church, like He asked the young ruler to do in Matthew 19:16-22. Indeed, most of Mark 12 deals with stewardship of some sort—investing, or taxes, or knowledge. I think there’s more to it, though.
There is a great deal of power in the phrase, “I came here with nothing but all You have given me” (New Wine, by Hillsong Worship). This month, I’ve felt that sentence acutely. “Lord, I’ve got nuthin’.” I don’t know what to say, or how to feel, or what to think. Usually, I have lots of words and feelings and thoughts, but not today. Today, I come empty… depleted… open-handed.
The poor widow came to God’s house with all she had, which was almost nothing, but she had the faith to believe that God would honor and care for her in her poverty. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
So often, we think we have to come to church (or to the Lord in prayer) bubbling over. We have to pretend that everything is awesome, because we know the King of the Universe. We have to “put on a happy face” and hide that we feel poor in spirit. One thing Jesus knew very well is that regardless of how many blessings you have, it’s still possible to feel completely empty, depleted, tired, heart-sick, or worried.
I remember my Dad saying to me, “Quit moping. I’ve done this thing and that thing for you, and you have all of these awesome things, experiences, or relationships. You should be grateful and happy.” He didn’t understand that gratitude, while helpful, doesn’t necessarily imply joy. Neither does having an abundance of the things, experiences, or relationships included in the American Dream.
Sometimes, no matter how many boxes of band-aids you apply, a wound is too deep to heal that way. Sometimes, no matter how much material or experiential or relational support you have, you feel lost. I think the phrases “Less is more,” and “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” are what we need to embrace as we walk into the Lord’s presence. He doesn’t ask for our bubbles or peacock feathers or whatever else we feel obligated to bring. He just asks for our hearts, in whatever state they’re in—empty or full, joyful or sad, rich or poor, sick or healthy. Don’t know what to say? No problem.
24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.Romans 8:24-27, NIV
Stop feeling guilty if you’re not on the worship team, if you think you’ll never hold a microphone in your hand during service, if your voice isn’t in tune, or if you’re moved to tears by the music or message. Stop hiding the truth of who you are and what you’re going through. Show up with your nothing. Show up with your “less,” your “poverty of spirit,” your weakness. Jesus doesn’t love you any more if you wear a mask, and neither should your Christian family. Just show up with an expectation that God can do anything… in fact, He can do everything… with your nuthin’.
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