Often times people feel displaced in life. Many people feel melancholic, knowing they should be at home here on earth, but often times wondering why life can be so hard and why humans make it harder with how they behave. Walker Percy says the fundamental mystery of the universe is why we feel so alone in the world.
The Bible states that the solution to both Israel’s exile problem and humanity’s exile problem is the same solution. A king who will come and deliver them and reunite heaven and earth for all.
00:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.
00:06 We're continuing this study into being exiles here on earth and the exile theme in the Bible. And today we're reading out of Philippians chapter three, which Philippians is such a beautiful book. You can read it in like 20 minutes. I encourage you to do it this week. It gives so much language to the power of what Christ has done, who Christ is and the hope of our life here, written by the apostle Paul to the church in Philippi. Here's what he says in chapter three, verse 17 to 21. He says, dear brothers and sisters pattern your lives after mine and learn from those who follow our example for, I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows. They are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They're headed for destruction there.
00:57 God is their appetite. They brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth, but we are citizens of heaven. We highlight that, underline it marketing the app on your phone, but we are citizens of heaven where the Lord Jesus Christ lives present tense. And we are eagerly awaiting for him to return as our savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his good control in Jesus name. Let's pray together. Thank you God. For, these collective times, we pause our life and gather as the family of God. and I confess Lord to speak of things like heaven feels too much for me. I don't know, Lord, in my finite self, how to communicate the glory of all that you are.
02:03 So would you do it today? Lord, we surrender our time together. Would you be present with us? God, would you minister to our hearts? Would you give us a glimpse of the glory of God as we are here together in Jesus name? Amen. Amen. I wonder, have you ever had too good of a thing too much? Good. Have you ever had a good thing that became too much of a good thing? We talked about this in our sermon prep team. I paused that pose that question to them. And I'm sad to report you guys. There seems to be a bit of an addiction to sour patch kids, in the sermon prep team. Quite honestly, it's not, not, we shouldn't be celebrating that. but before you think I'm too judgey, let me just confess to you that I have an unhealthy relationship with chocolate, peanut butter ice cream.
02:56 Where am my people at? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Thank you. Chocolate peanut butter, ice cream, you guys did is so good. And, and then on days like this, when you come home and you've been out at the soccer field or the softball field as I have been this weekend and you get home, you crack the freezer and you get the rush of the cold air. And then that first taste of, you know, the, the salty and the sweet and the cold and the creamy. I mean, come on you guys, it's really, really good. It's really good. You know, what's not good is when that carton of peanut butter, chocolate, peanut butter ice cream travels with me to the couch. And I sit there and I happened to be watching game two of the golden state warriors championship series. And pretty soon, by the second quarter, you guys, I'm not eating chocolate, peanut butter, ice cream, I'm snow plowing through chocolate, peanut butter ice cream is I'm just like tearing through this until that moment.
03:51 And you guys know exactly what I'm talking about. You realize I'm disgusting.
04:53 And you could go every single day to Disneyland. Imagine that every single day to Disneyland. And we went a lot. We went so much that Disneyland was not magical anymore. We went so much that by the end, we would just go at the end of the day and sit on a bench and watch. And here's what you need to know. we were so over Disneyland, we decided it's, it's not fun. It's not, it's not great anymore, but fast forward, about eight years or so. And I am bringing my three year old daughter, my oldest daughter, Gracie to Disneyland for the first time and this place that I had said, oh, I so over it. And I it's, it's lame. It's old, whatever. All of a sudden this place is newly magical. Do you guys know what I'm talking about? You bring a little one into that space on main street and the colors and the music and the smells and the creepy characters. And like, all of it is like, this is actually magical all over again. I see I'm watching. I can, if I close my eyes, I can see myself standing behind her as she's taking this all in. And it is amazing. And you guys, it was amazing for like a good two hours.
06:14 Disneyland was really, really good. You know, what's not good. Is that exact same place on main street at about 9:00 PM at 9:00 PM on main street at Disneyland, it is no longer the happiest place on earth. It is like a war zone. It is just weeping and it is screaming and no one can walk anymore and people are, children are vomiting and parents are covered in vomit. And it's like, what happened to this magical place? It's a disaster. It is a good example collectively when something so good. And I would say to you that even that idea of, of walking with my daughter into Disneyland for the first time was a sacred moment. I would say that it like awaken stuff in my heart of like beauty and wonder and mystery and child likeness. That was really, really good. I can remember it distinctly. It was like an important day. And that thing, that good thing was not meant to hold all of the weight of my soul. It falls apart within hours within hours.
07:30 So as we are thinking about this idea of being citizens of heaven, that we are exiles here on earth. I want us to just pause and think of this idea that the good things of this world point us to the ultimate goodness of God, the good things of this world and the things we experience are markers that point us to the goodness of God and are heavenly home with him. But these things of this world are not our home. We are exiles. Our souls are exiled here while they long for heaven. And when we take good things of this world and make them into God things, they cannot hold the weight of our longing. we've been talking about this theme of exile in the Bible and, and that we have to do work as, as modern Bible readers. We gotta do some work to put ourselves in the place of the exile in scripture, because right now you guys listen, we're sitting in a beautiful building with air conditioning on a hot day, and we're wearing nice clothes.
08:44 And we all have lunch plans after this, just by those few things, we live in an incredibly privileged age of humanity. We have to do some work to remember what the themes of the Bible tell us about being, living under oppression, not having a choice even about our bodies or our time or our giftings. Those aren't even on the map that we are people living in a different kingdom, trying to hold on to who they are. We have to do work to read that into our reading of the Bible. Pastor Evans started us a couple weeks ago with this reminder that this is a lot more, our experience is a lot more like the Babylonian empire than it is the exiled Israels is, Israelite people. We, we have lots of comfort and strength and power that the Israeli's never had. So we have to go back and reimagine.
09:45 As we read scripture, our goal is not to become richer and fatter and happier the Disneyland version of life that is not our end goal. It is to become the people of God here, present in this moment, heavenly citizens last week, pastor Ben bridged that for us even a bit more, when he reminded us of this radical call in the book of Jeremiah, that God gives to Israel, that they're gonna be an exile and they should live in a way that blesses their oppressor
10:43 And he connected it last, last Sunday, we celebrated Juneteenth, which is a freedom celebration day for the black community, remembering the last announcement of the freedom from slavery and the song we were reminded of the songs that they sang for generations while living in captivity, while living as slaves in a foreign land, where they didn't have any say of how they lived or who they were or what they would do from day to day. This is the words they saying. He reminded us. It says one of the, the black spiritual songs says it. I'm, I'm sometimes up and I'm sometimes down coming forward to carry me home, but still my soul feels heavenly bound coming forward to carry me home. Still, my soul feels heavenly bound, even in the worst of circumstances, let that be a call to us. We're gonna center our time around this idea that our souls are heavenly bound.
11:42 How do we recenter our lives around this idea as we live today? We first remember that not only is exile a theme in scripture, not only is it stories we read, but that we are longing belongs to a different place. We are made for something else. In the beginning of scripture in Genesis, it tells the story of God and that everything he breathed on, everything he put from imagination into the physical, everything that God made was good. It was good. And it lived in harmony creation, lived in harmony with humanity, lived in harmony with God. And there was no separation. There was no brokenness. There was no jealousy or pride, or it was harmony. And that you guys, we have to remember that because that's what you were made for. That's what you were made for. And that was what was made for you for you. So I want you to practice a little exercise with me. If you would just humor me, close your eyes for a moment. And we're gonna take 15 seconds, which is longer than you think 15 seconds to silently, take yourself. Imagine the most beautiful place you have ever visited the most beautiful peaceful place you have ever visited in Jesus, our us right now, for any distraction, any plans later, any arguments that were had before today, would you just pause, just take those for a moment. And in our minds, take us to that place. Lord Jesus, the beauty that you have experienced 15 seconds, sit with that.
13:49 What does this place look like? What does it, what does it smell? Like? What do you hear? Is it the wind in the trees? Cool grass under your feet, streams of water or waves crashing on the beach. Maybe it's laughter around a table with ones you love and the smells of a good meal in front of you. Thank you for doing that. I, I want to tell you that the practice of remembering those moments are little gifts. If we put them into the disciplines of our life, remembering the goodness and the beauty, because here's the truth. Those experiences, wherever you just spent, 15 seconds is a gift to remind you of the goodness of heaven of the place that was made for you. And you were made to be, it's a gift. Those moments, Genesis three says that God walked in the garden and he walked in that place that you just imagined. He walked there. His presence was there. This is a picture of heaven. The Christian story is one that centers on God's pursuit back to that place. And humanity story is one of longing to return to that place we were made for something greater, something bigger, something other that we get little whispers, little tastes of.
15:31 And the story of God is one that is longing to take us back home, to be with him. We live in, a time times of trouble. There's no question about it. And I don't know if there is just more trouble in the world than there ever was before. Or if these little screens that we carry around, just deliver the trouble to us 24 hours a day. I don't know which is more true, probably both, but there is something in our human experience. When we encounter brokenness
16:07 That we say, this is not right. I grew up, in college, I had, three guys that were my roommates, Josh, Jared, and Donovan. And you guys, we did everything. We water skied together. We surfed together. We occasionally went to class together. We, spent a lot of time together. We basically grew up. We were in a really formative time. We all came from houses that didn't have dads really involved. And so we were kind of teaching each other how to be men in this world and be responsible, which was hit and miss. But, but I'm 45 and Donovan and I are the only one still living Josh. I walked through his life with him and watched him battle addiction after addiction, after addiction, which eventually took him. Jared was 40 wife, two kids under 10 years old. And he gets lung cancer. Stage four, lung cancer, never smoked was a healthy guy gone in six months. Now I imagine you have these stories too. It is not just my experience that holds these. And, and I hope it, what should happen when we experience these moments, we should say, no, this is not how it's supposed to be. People aren't meant to die. Young brokenness in the world. Addiction. Diction
17:47 Is not what this world. It's not what our heart longs for. It is not what we're created for. We should. That's a good holy righteousness to say, no, that's wrong. And we do this with beauty too. We do this with beauty on the flip side, when we experience the lovely and the beautiful in this world, there are things awakened there as well, a hope and, and longing my wife and I, once went to Maui and someone told us, so you gotta do the drive up to Mount Holly ALA, which I probably just butchered as the name, whatever that mountain is called, Ocala drive to the top of it. And when you do, you're gonna you'll watch a sunrise. So we drive up in the, in the dark, we get to the top and it is it's dark. And they said, bring sweatshirts and blankets.
18:43 We're like, ah, you guys come on. This is Hawaii. What do you need? That we were cold. We were under prepared and we were cold. but we stuck it out. And this magical thing begins to happen. You guys, as the sun, not even present yet just begins getting closer. The sky is changing and there are colors that I don't even know how to put into words. And it is, it is soul awakening in that moment. And then the sun begins to break through and you look down and you're over the sea and it's this amazing thing. But as the sun gets brighter and comes up, you realize that's not the sea. That's the clouds. We are up above the cloud line. And it is a place you just wanna worship. It is so powerful. And that is a glimpse. It is. It is this little gift that our soul should say, yes, that is what we're made for.
19:38 That's home. Those moments. We recognize both pastor Evan shared, this sermon that CS Lewis taught called the weight of glory. I forgot about this again. Sorry guys. Here we go. CS Lewis said this, about this experience in humanity with the, the longing for the heavenly. He said the books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located. It will betray us. If we trust in them, it's not meant it. It is not in them. It only came through them. And what came through them was longing. Longing Lewis is saying that as humans, we're very good at placing hope in the things of this world and this earth. But these things will betray us. If we put all of our hope in them, they're not made to carry the weight of our soul. They break down and they fall apart. I want you to think of it like this. When I was young, everyone, for some reason had these things called magnifying lenses. I just dated myself.
20:57 I don't know why, but magnifying lenses seemed to be an important thing that everybody had. I don't know if we couldn't see as well back then or what, but I'll tell you as a 12 year old, that magnifying lens during summer, which is known as the season of perpetual boredom. When I was growing up, you could take a lens and you could light stuff on fire. Oh, and it was the coolest, it was so fun. You take this lens out on a sunny day. And, and the, the light of the sun travels through this lens and it creates this little prick of light, this little tiny speck of light. That's so intense. You can light stuff on fire. Now it take down, you burn up, you know, bark or ants. It's so fun. Now, if someone came to you and said, oh, that little prick of light that you use with your magnifying glass, Dave, that little prick of light, that is the sun. That's the sun. Hopefully you would say my friend, you don't know what the sun is. The sun is this ball of fire and, and gas. And it, it lights and it warms the universe. It's so strong. The gravitational pull it. It holds our whole universe together. That's the sun. This thing I'm burning a piece of bark. That's just a spec. That's just a little piece of the sun traveling through
22:30 That is you guys a picture of this human experience. We get these little glimpses. We get these little hot focused moments. That's not the sun. We do this with relationships, intimacy with a loved one is this beautiful moment that God gives us as a gift. But when we make that thing, the thing it falls apart under the weight of our soul and our culture is very obsessed with this. You are my soulmate now, and you will hold the weight of my soul and I will find my identity in you. And I will be satisfied in you and I will be made whole in you. And this person is not made to hold this. It inevitably will fall apart. Only God can hold the weight of your soul. And we do this with the pursuits of comfort in this country. We're really, really obsessed with, with this as well. I don't need just a house, which is a place of, of rest and, and rejuvenation and peace. I need a nice house and then I need a bigger house. And then I need a vacation house to go with my regular house. And this is an endless trail tasting, chasing. We are chasing the tail of comfort and we will not be satisfied. And we will fall apart because these things aren't meant to hold the weight of our soul. He is check in with me
24:09 A healthy relationship that is filled with passion and love and grace. It is a taste of heaven home to return to where you rest and you're with the ones you love is a GLI taste of heaven. These things are good, but they are not the ultimate good. There is a place greater. The apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians chapter three,
24:38 He says, and I want to just pull out some nuggets of this. So we would chew on, we talked about this before that we would chew on scripture like a dog with a bone. And we'd think about the words and the meaning. And what's happening here. Listen to this. When Paul is talking about this juxtaposition of two worlds side by side, and he says that that one in one world, there are many who conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. There, God is their appetite. They brag about shameful things. And they think only about this life here on earth. I wanna pause there because even when I was chewing on this scripture for today, there were things in me like, oh, that really sounds like, heartless. It's it just sounds like it's us versus them. And here's something I had. I had to chew on a few words that I would just give to you first. It says that Paul says, I say it again with tears in my eyes. I say it again to you with tears in my eyes, people are destroying themselves is what he's saying. They are. So they have made this good thing. These moments, these little specs of light, they have made it their whole life and the weight of their soul is put into it. And it is destruction. And his response is compassion.
26:10 It is a sorrow. And in the world we live in right now, you guys, we don't use the language of compassion. We use the language of war. We will defeat them. We will defend ourselves against them. We will triumph over them. And I wanna tell you, we are them.
27:18 And there are things that are part of being a citizen of heaven. That should be different. And one of those you guys is that we look at the cross as our magnifying lens moment, our magnifying lens moment, that the things, the good you experience with your spouse, with your friends, with those good meals, when you are climbing the mountains, or you are paddling the river or you're fishing or whatever those moments are that fill and awaken your soul, we say, yes, that is a glimpse. It's like the light that comes through the magnifying lens. It's this little moment. And it's beautiful and it's good, but it points to something bigger. The cross is this moment where the light reverses at the cross with Jesus and all of our shame and all of our hope and all of our dreams and the promises of God meet at the cross. And it explodes into the eternal. The window of heaven is open and you are invited in at the cross of Christ. You are invited in to those little glimpses for eternity.
28:29 I wanna tell you about a moment that I experienced this in the practice we did at the beginning, where you closed your eyes. This is where I go. I was in a prayer meeting in my early twenties with a group of people. I didn't know
29:44 And he has his arms open to me. And he is delighted to see, I mean, there's a tears in his eyes and a smile in his face. And he is welcoming me as if I am like a little child. He picks me up and he, he holds me and he kisses my head. You guys, it's like my, when I experience these little tastes with my children and I am a sinful broken man that I experience heaven in these moments of kissing my daughters and holding them is what Christ is doing to me in this moment. And in that moment, you guys, every bit of brokenness, sin loss, death feels so small. It's like, it's like music in a far away room. Like I, it feels so distant. It is overwhelmed in the glory of Christ's love in that moment. And that is this pinprick of light that comes through the lens of the cross and invites us into this space with Jesus. And you are invited, you were made for this, my friends, brothers, and sisters, you are made to be welcomed by Christ into this eternal healing. Never ending love. He has for you.