Something is being degraded in us as generations pass. Our ability to see true value is diminishing. More and more, value is being put on disposable things. Families used to invest in or make things that would last for generations. A wooden crib, hand-carved with love, would be made for the first baby and would last for the grandchildren, and maybe even their children, too.
Now we go to Wal-Mart and buy a cheap particle-board crib that lasts for one or two children, if it doesn't chip at the corners while you are putting it together. The low price reflects the quality of the product. Things that were once prized become obsolete in a few short years, or break very quickly. We strive for the latest upgrade and newest version. More, more! More for less! More for me!
It's easy to get rid of the things we no longer value. When there isn't a cost or a sacrifice made to get it, it doesn't hurt to lose it. You might not even notice it's gone. The obsolete printer goes in the garbage with the phone number of the friend I will never talk to again. With the click of a button, the "block" feature works well after a bad breakup.
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12 NIV)
There is a way of life being presented to our generation. We've seen the flaws of our parents and grandparents, so we've gone the opposite direction. We are told to tear down the oppressive paradigm of traditional marriage and find a better, more free way. This free way means we don't have to be stuck with someone we no longer find interesting. When deep struggles come in our relationships, we can just walk away. No pressure. It's much easier to turn away than to face the deep hurts we feel and inflict. We don't have to "stay together for the kids" as our parents did.
So, more and more, children are growing up with single parents, step-parents, week-end visitation, and conflicting standards as they get shuttled between one parent's house and the other.
Just as death is the separation of spirit and body, there is a death that happens in our relationships. The crack starts small and slowly widens until two people can no longer talk or even be in the same room. Couples, parents and children, or siblings choose to stop speaking to each other rather than face the conflict.
The hassle-free, low-cost, no-commitment way is seeping into our relationships with our fellow humans. This so-called freedom leads to walking through life empty and alone. Pain always follows.
Where can we learn to take care of our relationships so they last? Is there a way to repair and heal our relationships, or do we have to throw them away and look for something better? What would it be worth to you to live in a place where relationships can be restored instead of disposed of? Is there such a place ? How could you find it? What if I told you that I found it!
I was about thirteen when I started realizing that I didn't know why I was alive. I was lost and depressed and didn't know how I would get through high school. It seemed as if whatever crowd I tried to fit in with, I couldn't connect.
Why am I alive? Why does war happen? Why did my parents divorce? Why did my friend commit suicide?
The smokers outside didn't have the answers for me. Neither did the girls in my dance class. Even the youth I went to church with didn't know or care. They were just as lost as I was.
I needed something of value to invest my life into. I needed to know why I was alive. What hope was there for the future? Was it even possible to have a real relationship?
I went through college because that is what you do, but I wasn't satisfied to be one of a hundred listening to a lecture. I didn't see the value of putting on a suit and tie and trying to be someone important.
Then I found the circus, but hanging from a trapeze didn't fill the emptiness in my soul. That's okay, though.
Then I met a very alternative man who was asking the same questions I was. I put all my energy into our relationship, desperate for something real. We searched together for the way we could live without compromising. Just as I was starting to see the fragility of our life together, I had something else to turn my attention to... Our baby required all of my time and energy.
Fast forward one year. I was not prepared for the sacrifice it takes to maintain a family. Why was it so hard? Why couldn't we get along? Why couldn't I learn how to maintain a loving relationship?
"God, why am I alive? What am I supposed to teach my son? Help me!"
My cries were heard!
A short time later my little family walked through the front door of a big house in a neighborhood I'd never been to. It was like entering an alternate reality. Families were together -- husbands and wives and children! Families were living together in this big house, raising their children all together. There were big families and new families, youth, and young adults.
Then something happened that I had never experienced before. They invited me to come and spend more time with them. They actually wanted me to come over, not just once, but all the time.
I didn't even realize it was possible for people to live together and actually love each other. Something deep in my heart was stirred. I was finally seeing something that was not cheap! Finally, something of true value!
Humanity was created to be glorious -- families working together, living and loving together for a common purpose. Now, that is valuable! Our Creator created us to be together, each of us a little different, complimentary pieces designed to function as one, each lacking something and each having something another lacks. That is valuable!
I found a place where humanity is being restored. The Messiah Yahshua was the most humane man, a representation of what our Creator was designing. Full of mercy and compassion, He reached out to those wondering what to do with their lives. He invited them to follow Him, to be with Him all the time. He didn't have cheap, soothing words to offer them, but He taught them, sometimes through difficult circumstances, how to love each other. He gently showed them the ways they were not loving.
There is a cost to the true life found in Messiah. For those who were willing to drop what they were doing -- walk away from who they thought they were -- He would teach them the most valuable thing: how to love each other.
There is a cheap imitation that doesn't cost or require anything other than an hour or two a week on Sunday, if you have time. But the true life that comes from following Messiah is not cheap. It is only for those who will pay the cost.
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:33)
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13-45:46)
When I saw a demonstration of love, my eyes were open to see what it was that was missing in my life. I kept visiting, going out on a limb to believe what these people told me. They told me I could come anytime, so I did. I would show up on the front steps in the morning and stay until lunch... then I started staying until nap time... then I stayed until after dinner when the parents were putting their little ones to bed. I was trying to figure out how I could live there all the time. I knew I couldn't commit myself as they did and still try to live somewhere else.
Here, right in front of my eyes, were the answers to the deep questions in my heart. Here was the place I belonged. A place where relationships are the priority. A place where you can actually take care of someone else's needs and not be left in the dust.
As with anything of true value, the life I found came at a great cost. Those that were there to welcome me had dropped their other dreams and pursuits to make each other their priority. They came from every walk of life. It was not that they were super-human, but what set them apart was the commitment they'd made to be together, to follow the example of Messiah Yahshua and give their lives in exchange for His life that He had given willingly for them.
Before meeting the Community, I had never appreciated the value of commitment in a relationship. I, like many others my age, hadn't given much thought to the insecurity in a family that comes from the "freedom" to not think about the future. What if you end up not seeing eye-to-eye? What if it turns out that you don't value the same things?
What would cause people to cheerfully give what they love the most? Most people hang on for dear life to their most valued possession. Only if we come across a more valuable treasure would we give up what we treasure.
What is most precious to you?
So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time -- houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions -- and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30)
The most precious thing in my life was my young son. With him I could see how desperately needy I was. I did not have what he needed by myself. What was I supposed to teach him when I was so desperately clueless myself? Without the full-time support and help of my new friends, I didn't know how to be a wife and mother. I had no clue how to live without thinking about my own interests.
My greatest question had been, "God, why am I alive? What am I supposed to teach my son?" The answer I found? I am supposed to teach my son what has value.
What is the most valuable thing that I would give up everything for? What could I treasure more than my son, my only child?
The life of Messiah.
I saw the practical cost of the life found in Messiah. This wonderful life that had come forth from people setting aside their selfish pursuits, however noble and just they may have seemed, and gladly receiving direction from others. I knew that all I could do in response was to give up everything.
For those who don't recognize the Pearl, the demands of the Gospel are harsh and unrealistic. My son's father did not recognize what I saw as a treasure. He was not interested in the life I so deeply desired. There came a point in time where the line was drawn. He wasn't coming. He made it clear: it was him and our son, or the Community. I moved into the Community, and my son's father took him away.
In my case, the only way for me to teach my son what is the most valuable treasure was by giving up what I treasured the most -- him.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
Now I am alive to participate in the living demonstration of the love of God. Our lives, poured out on each other, are evidence of the value of the life of Messiah.