Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thanks, I Needed That

The interaction of Christians sometimes looks more like the chaos of an explosion at the fireworks plant than it does the choreographed wonder of a fireworks show. Nonetheless, Christians alive in the Spirit are vessels of fire, and God wants to put them on open display for the world to see. Revival is about the rekindling of that fire: too often it ends up being about chaos. Why? Let me suggest that in the excitement of personal experience we forget about the benefits of corporate fellowship. We forget that iron sharpens iron. Everything is NOT intended to go smoothly between us, but what does goes between us should make us smoother. Let's look at some of the collateral processes that accompany fellowship and which work to bring out the best in us.

We grow by rubbing off on each other. In a three stranded cord there is some friction, yet in staying together, despite the rubbing, that rope's strength is multiplied. Friction is unavoidable, separation is not. Another believer's imperfections are never a reason for us to discard him or her, nor are ours reason to hide from him or her. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately."

We cannot get any sharper without some grinding. To improve our edge, rust and grit, unevenness, and even notches have to be whetted down. The simple fact is, none of us can do that alone. It takes at least two hands (in the naval sense) and a little oil to get 'er done. We don't have the judgment to see our own flaws for one thing, and we don't have the capacity to sharpen ourselves for another. It takes another tool. We have to be willing to accept the Spirit directed benefit of someone else grinding on us and subject ourselves to it. All criticism from a friend can be constructive, if we keep our egos in check.

I can shave myself, most men can. Some of us find it relaxing, however, to let a barber apply a hot towel, brush up a good lather, and then skillfully wield a just honed straight razor to scrape off all that uncomfortable stubble that marks our manliness. To be honest, the thought of someone else holding a razor to my throat kinda freaks me out! However, if one is to experience the sharpening of appearance and the release of tension that a really close shave delivers, he is going to have to trust the man with the blade. Trusting another to improve your countenance through his or her sincere counsel leads to that refreshing splash of aftershave that says I'm ready for life.

[Slap, slap from the medicine cabinet] Thanks, I needed that!