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IN TOUCH WITH GOD    by Edward Heppenstall

Witnesses Unto Me JUNE 29


"It is not for these alone that I pray, but for those also who . . . put their faith in me; may they all be one: as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that thou didst send me." John 17:20, 21, N.E.B.

The basic need of us all is to be one with someone, to belong. We are persons. We stand over against one another often in a state of alienation because of sin and selfishness. Even in a crowd an individual can feel himself to be the loneliest person in the world. The world is filled with frightened and lonely people. We so easily create conditions of loneliness by our anxiety, self-reference, and distrust. We cannot hope to find within ourselves the oneness we need.

The good news of the gospel is God's gift of oneness in His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the essential meaning of the atonement—at-one-ment. God gives Himself to us. We become involved in the giving of ourselves to Him and to our fellow men.

God created persons to be loved and things to be used. He made us for personal relations and the world of things to serve a subordinate purpose. The temptation growing out of our insecurity is to love things and to use persons. When that happens we create unhappiness, especially in our homes. We lose our sense of self-worth. We resent being used.

Today man fearfully degrades other men. Men are desired, not for what they are in themselves, but for their functions. Every time we treat another person as a thing we degrade him. Every time we use him for a convenience we deny him dignity as a child of God.

God's supreme gift to us is this love relationship. Oneness is always the result of being loved. We want to be wanted, to be needed, to be valued. We can never reach maturity or fulfillment without the capacity to love and to be loved. We are to witness to this oneness of love with God and man. The test of our Christian experience is not what we do for the church as an institution, but what we do in relation to persons.

The message of the gospel is not what God requires of us, but what He gives to us: Himself, His love, His forgiveness.

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