The Bare Soul - February 10, 2008
Vertical Direction

Philippians 3:14 - I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

It was about the time I started writing The Bare Soul early last year that my barefoot logo took on a different appearance. Instead of the flat, capital T in BAREFOOTRUNNER.ORG, the T grew in vertical direction to be a t. (Actually, it had to become a lowercase t first which is really appropriate since it had to be a humble font before it could be exalted vertically!) This was an outward manifestation of what was going on with my barefoot running. Previously, I believe that there was still so much of me in my barefoot running, that just like the horizontally-centric T in my logo, I was just reaching out to others yelling out at the top of my proverbial lungs, "Look at me! Aren't I cool?". This was a waste of both my time and theirs. I had failed in the most important aspect of connecting with people and that is not taking our encounters and making them spiritual relationships that have some eternal value. I had overlooked moving in a vertical direction to the Lord Jesus.

Before there can be an upward call, there has to be an awareness of a call and a sense of upward direction. Otherwise, we will be satisfied with our earthly relationships and not try to find a deeper significance in our dealings with humankind. Some folks find great satisfaction in just "loving on people". This is fantastic and true for as the lyricist wrote "What the world needs now, is love sweet love". However, if love toward my neighbor is devoid of love for God and thereby not channeled through Him, then it is meaningless in the grand scheme of life. When Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment He said "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one God. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul". Jesus went on to state that the second greatest commandment was equally important -- "... And you must love your neighbor as yourself". Of the four billion plus persons in our world, millions upon millions are desiring to fulfill what I call the "Good Commission". The Great Commission, as many of us know is Jesus Christ's admonition to go into the whole world preaching the Gospel and making disciples. The "Good Commission" overlooks God totally. It is a humanistic endeavor that is atheistic in intent and just desires that we would all come together, love one another and just get along. Kind of like a gathering of humankind sitting around a global campfire singing "Kum-Bay-Ya" but totally dismissive of the words "My Lord" in the song. It is so easy to accept the "good" rather than the "great". Souls are pouring into hell every day because Satan has duped them into believing that just their "good" works will save them, rather than humbling themselves to the "great and perfect" blood of Jesus. Only He will transform us to reach out with HIS love to those around us.

Love is a wonderful thing. However, love that has not been fashioned first in a vertical fashion with our Lord Jesus Christ will ultimately fail as we reach out horizontally to our neighbor. As with the analogy of my "T", it is so easy to think that if we are reaching out to others that we are being a good person. Hell would love for us to continue to believe this. Even with my self-adulation in barefoot running, it wouldn't have mattered how much money or good I did for the homeless and those crippled if it was not the love of Jesus reaching down and through me to others. What matters first and foremost is to know that this life is so much more than just about ourselves. As long as we are pressing on toward that upward call, we will not shun the Father's love and how He wishes to reach back down through us to change the world around us. This is not grandiosity or "pie in the sky" thinking, but it is a knowing and believing that the very thing that Jesus Christ started in his church, He will fulfill it. Let's all be available and press on toward love that matters, so we can live for others.

Your barefoot servant,

Barefoot Rick

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