We had another great XLM Bible Study last Saturday. Here’s the audio. The background noise is the Magic players from the next table over.
Here are my notes. Hope they’re useful!
By baggage, I just mean the stuff that’s happened to us that we still carry with us. Maybe it was our fault, maybe it wasn’t (maybe we think it’s one way when it’s the other). Whatever happened, it weighs us down. It could just be depressing to think about. We might have developed a bad habit because of it, or one of those automatic reactions that gives us trouble sometimes. It’s something in our past that’s negatively affecting our present.
Baggage is stuff we don’t need to hold on to, but it’s tough to let go of.
It’s a pretty sure thing that the prophet Jeremiah had some serious baggage. He was called into ministry young, and was insecure about it at first. He was afraid people wouldn’t listen to him, maybe. Turns out, they didn’t listen to him because his message was harsh and unpopular. He was a prophet at one of the roughest times in Israel’s history: their conquest by Babylon.
Jeremiah suffered a lot from living in a city under siege, but that much more because his own people persecuted him. God gave him the truth to pass on to them, and they abused him for it. It’s not all that surprising that Jeremiah is the author of an uplifting little book called Lamentations.
The first part of chapter 3 – which is a Hebrew acrostic poem – recounts some of the crappy stuff he’s been through, which he says God caused. And in a sense, he’s right. God was punishing Israel for constantly breaking the covenant they made, and Jeremiah was in the middle of it.
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Sounds like baggage. He’s been through a lot, and it weighs on him. But look at what he says next.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust —
there may yet be hope.
Jeremiah has hope because he has God.
As does David.
20 My companion attacks his friends;
he violates his covenant.
21 His talk is smooth as butter,
yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
yet they are drawn swords.
22 Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
Know what’s sad? David could be referring to any number of people. It could have been Saul, Absolom, Joab, or any of his officials that joined those conspiracies. He faced so much betrayal from so many close friends and relatives that he must have had some serious baggage. Yet he says that God sustained him.
The best way to overcome your baggage is to pursue God. Do that first.
You don’t need to wait until you’re perfect. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.
16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
After that, if you want to get more intentional, here are some tips.
First, forgive. Some of what bogs us down sticks with us because we haven’t forgiven those who have wronged us. Unforgiveness is harmful to us. It’s also our duty.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
You know how unforgiveness eats away at you? This is why: It harms our connection to God. I know it’s hard, but forgiveness is essential.
Second, identify the affect your baggage has on your perspective. Does it make it harder to trust people? Does it distort your image of God? Does it twist your attitudes about life? Usually, one bad relationship hurt all our other relationships. One bad experience can mess up our expectations.
You might need some outside perspective for this. If our perspective is distorted, we need help to correct it. Talk your stuff out with friends, or even a professional, and find out where your perspective is skewed.
Then, look for the truth. Pray. Study the word. Talk to wise friends. And take it all to heart.
Finally, realize that God can and will work through you as you work out your baggage. As Jesus says, He doesn’t expect His followers to be perfect before He calls them.
In fact, consider that some of your baggage may be part of God’s greater purpose for your life. Without massive personal baggage, we’d have no Batman. No Spider-Man. Maybe God has allowed some tough things in your life to awaken you to the plight of others. And even if that wasn’t God’s original intention, He can certainly do that now. He can make your baggage into a means of grace for others with the same baggage.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
The Holy Spirit continues to develop the character of God in us as we follow Him. He’ll lift out baggage from us as He sees fit. Trust Him to do so.
Posted on June 22, 2012, in Christianity, Geekery, God, Holiness, The Bible, Uncategorized and tagged Christianity, growth, holiness, Holy Spirit, hope, The Bible, transformation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.