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Zombie Humanity

By Daniel Teater

Have you ever met a walking talking real life zombie?  A zombie is a fictional depiction of an infected human who is brought back to life through some sort of supernatural power. Zombies are no longer fully human. Their humanity disappears, and we are left with a being that only palely reflects the human they once were.

Zombie Humanity

The type of zombie I’ve just described is obviously a creation of fiction, but human beings can exhibit zombie-like characteristics. Anything that dampens the full expression of human dignity and causes us to function “less than” what God designed us to be qualifies as a zombie-like symptom.

When human beings live as if they were dead they are exhibiting zombie-like characteristics. This deading shows up in every facet of our humanity: cognitively, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially. We become lethargic and numb. We lack energy and enthusiasm. We settle for comforts over creativity. We isolate rather than engage. And slowly we become a shell of our former selves unable to think, feel, and act like we once did or desire to.

Restored Humanity

In our own personal stories, we often can spot these types of symptoms in our stories. We bury the pain of our suffering and became angry and numb. In so doing our humanity is deadened and we become a walking shell of ourselves. This is not God’s design for you.

I encourage you to examine your own heart and reflect on ways you are exhibiting characteristics of death in your own story.

  • Where are have you become numb?
  • What pain have you tried to ignore?
  • How have you buried your hurt?

Jesus came to restore life (John 10:10). God’s grand plan involves reweaving life into the created order. To enter God’s kingdom means to find this new life in a way that makes us more human, not less human. Human beings fully alive were always designed to reflect God’s glory. God is interested in restoring cracked and damaged image bearers to re-image Him as he always intended. The world God created was “teeming” with life (Gen. 1:20). This is God’s vision for you as well.

Finding life though means dying first (Matt. 16:24-25, Gal. 2:20). The first step to experience the life God desires to give us is to experience suffering. We must die to our own commitment to live as controlling mini-gods over our own lives and voluntarily submit to to His control. We must relinquish and renounce all forms of control and gladly submit to our Creator and King.

God frequently will use our pain to drive us to this place of death. God never acts or says that suffering is a good thing. This would fly in the face of every aspect of his character. God does, though, choose to allow suffering as a means to bring us back to humble reliance upon himself. He invites us to face the reality of this broken world in complete honesty. As we do this we are able to find life once again and be restored to our full image.

Walking with Friends

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Our friendships determine the quality of life we lead.This may sound overly dramatic, but pause for a moment and ask: “In life’s deepest troubles what enabled me to endure?” For many people, it wasn’t a tool, technique, or principle, but a relational connection that empowered them to preserve.

In the Beginning…Friendship

Have you ever reflected on the relationship of the Trinity as a friendship? The Triune God lives in an eternal perfect symbiotic loving relationship. Every good aspect of human love we encounter in this life is but a dim flicker of the intensity of the source from which it derives its essence. This includes friendship, for friendship is an expression of divine love. The Triune God’s relationship within himself cannot be reduced to merely a friendship—it is certainly much more than friendship—but it does include friendship.

Friendship Defined

But this begs the question, what exactly is friendship?

According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, there are a variety of Hebrew and Greek words that are translated as “friend.” The idea of friendship involves “three components: association, loyalty, and affection.”

Friends voluntarily associate with one another, which creates a sense of belonging to each other. The intensity of that sense of belonging is determined however, by the sense of loyalty and affection present in the relationship. Loyalty is the commitment to do good to the other no matter the cost. Affection is the emotional bond that moves a person toward the other for their good. Each of these qualities—association, loyalty, and affection—constitute the idea behind biblical friendship. Friends belong to one another. They loyally commit themselves to one another, allow themselves to be emotionally moved by one another.

Finding Friendship

In the book Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice, we read about two fighter pilots who forged an unlikely friendship. Jesse Brown was the US Navy’s first African American pilot and Thomas Hudner. While Jesse was flying on a mission his plane was shot down behind enemy lines in North Korea. His friend, Thomas Hudner, intentionally crashed his plane in freezing cold temperatures in an attempt to rescue Jesse from the burning plane. Although Thomas ultimately was not able to rescue Jesse, it nonetheless is a powerful image of friendship. Someone willing to sacrificially not count the cost of his own life in order to save the life of his friend.

This story captures a snapshot of what Jesus was describing when he said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Yet, the kind of friendship Jesus was describing was not an abstract philosophical exercise, but an intensely personal definition of his own life and mission. Jesus came to reestablish friendship between humans and God (Romans 5:11). Jesus, like Thomas Hudner, intentionally “crashed” the plane in a rescue operation. Although the difference is that he fully knew it would result in his death in order for the operation to succeed. Yet it was this cost he paid voluntarily.

If it is true that our greatest friendships are found in those who sacrifice freely on our behalf, then look no further than Jesus. Turn your attention to the Redeemer who voluntarily chose to lay his life down. In Christ we see each aspect of biblical friendship displayed beautifully. He associated himself with us willingly and is unashamed to call his family (Hebrews 2:11). He was loyally committed to us even at the cost of his own life (John 10:11,15,18). He genuinely is moved with affection for us and cares (Hebrews 4:15). This is the friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus is the true friend that perfectly embodies every aspect of true friendship.

Walking with Friends

We created Redemption Walk to point people to this True Friend amidst life’s troubles. Seeing the Redeemer as friend also enables us to experience friendships with one another too. We live out our friendship with Jesus while walking with friends in redemptive community.

Walking with friends means inhabiting their lives, stories, and experiences, not because you have to, but because you want to. Walking with friends means allowing yourself to be moved by their longings, desires, tears, and joys because you are alongside them. Walking with friends means opening up the hardest most unlovable parts of our hearts to the penetrating gaze of another. To walk with friends means to decidedly choose to reject giving into the fear of being rejected, betrayed, or abandoned. Instead, you choose to risk, commit, and trust your heart to another. Ironically in this very act you not only make yourself extraordinarily exposed to the potential for pain, you also open up the floodgates to joyful connection.

Only in the giving of our hearts away freely can one find the energy to spend love extravagantly. We hope this podcast will enable you to be strengthened to walk alongside your friends. Because friendship is the stuff of Jesus’ kingdom.

 

 

Practicing The Gospel In Your Marriage

practice

How many of us have professed our faith with great confidence, but then struggled to put it into action when confronted with difficult circumstances or challenged emotionally by a strained relationship?  It’s the age-old battle of letting the explicit truth of God’s Word become the implicit reality of our life.

Gospel commitments must go beyond core beliefs and become core practices.  Robert Cheong author of God Redeeming His Bride says; “…God calls you to live out the gospel in authentic community and engage in His mission.”  Cheong goes on to identify four key components of what it means to engage in the everyday gospel mission we are all called to;

  • Loving God and one another
  • Engaging one another with the gospel
  • Fighting for one another in suffering and sin
  • Forgiving and reconciling with one another

 

I probably don’t have to convince you of the ‘rightness’ of each of these truths.  They should resonate powerfully with our understanding of how God wants us to live in relationship with each other.    But the reality is, we often fail to practice these gospel truths with our marriage partner.  We can forget that the most basic form of Christian community is the relationship between a husband and wife.   Why is that so?  Perhaps it’s the closeness, or the intensity of the relationship that causes us to struggle.    When emotions run high and disappointment runs deep we can excuse ourselves from stewarding our hearts with a gospel perspective. Let me encourage you to embrace the everyday gospel mission with your lifelong partner.

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The Importance of Friendship in Marriage

Married Couple

When I got married one of the questions that couples and counselors were discussing was:  Should husbands and wives be each other’s best friend?  The very question itself is probably a dead give-a-way as to how long I have been married.  Today however, the consensus is pretty strong and most experts agree; friendship is a vital key to making marriage a success.

We are all familiar with the term.  The word “friendship” conjures up thoughts of companionship, shared interest, honesty, vulnerability, mutuality and certainly commitment. C.S. Lewis said of friendship: “It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up — painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, and fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction.”

Marriage guru John Gottman, professor at the University of Washington, and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, says “Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship.”  As Gottman explains it this friendship is founded upon “a mutual respect and enjoyment of each other’s company.”  These couples tend to know each other intimately and they are very familiar with each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams.  They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but also in small gestures day in and day out.  It is this deep friendship that results in a higher percentage overall of marital satisfaction.  In fact, the emotional connection that married couples share is said to be five times more important than their physical intimacy.

That doesn’t mean that physical intimacy or romance is lacking in the marriage.  Rather, Gottman has found true ‘friendship’ is the foundation for love and fuels deeper passion in a marriage, because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial toward your spouse.

One interesting study on marriage asked 351 couples, married 15 years or longer to list the “Top reasons for their marital success”.  Even though the couples answered independently, the wives and the husbands produced almost identical lists: Not surprisingly, the number one reason given was, their spouse was their best friend. * Lauer, J.C. & Lauer, R.H. (1986). ‘Til Death Do Us Part. New York, NY: Haworth Press.

What are the traits of a strong friendship in marriage?

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Welcome to Live at Peace Ministries

Welcome to the first of many posts to come! We are glad you stopped by. We will be publishing content on a regular basis and this page will help you navigate the terrain.

Our desire is to change the way people do their relationships with one another. Jesus said it was our relationships with one another that would validate his message and messianic claims (John 13:34-35, John 17:20-23).  Our relational health matters. 

The cost of a disconnected relationships  is profound. Conflicts abound, divisions deepen, and harm is done in the name of Christ. It is time to prioritize our relational health. It is time to address the implicit gaps and disconnects in our relational systems that stand in the way of a gospel culture of love and unity.

We hope you will be inspired, encouraged, and equipped to make a difference in whatever relational system you find yourself in. We long to see every cultural system change one relationship at a time.