Known and Unknown

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” (2 Corinthians 5:16)

The risen Christ is altogether more than he is seen as prior to his crucifixion. The risen Christ is the Jesus that is known in the heart and only perhaps seen with the eyes (but not always). The risen Christ is the one “with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13).” Yes, he’s “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8).” But there had been, as the writer of Hebrews points out, a death. His.

“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.” (Hebrews 9:16)

In other words, the writer of Hebrews is relating Christ to the biblical figures from the first testament (called the Tanakh in Jewish tradition) and indicating through a series of precise, back-and-forth comparisons, just exactly what Jesus did in fulfilling rabbinic tradition and then allowing himself to be taken (essentially kidnapped) and beaten and crucified. “Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh…” In other words, we saw him as a mere human. Now, upon resurrection, he’s so much more. Savior, friend, architect, “the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).” How can Christians be so crazy for someone they’ve never met face-to-face and who died nearly two-thousand years before this generation came along? Rhetorical questions.

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:9).”

The first part of the scripture from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians at the top of the page says “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh…” This is the King James translation and it comes across a little archaic. A modern revision would read something along the lines of “After believing in Jesus-as-Christ, it isn’t all the outward signs of achievement, wealth, social standing, physical appearance or personal bearing that his followers first see when they look at other individuals.” A little more longwinded, admittedly, but it gets the point across. All the qualifiers of which fall under the broad category of “the flesh”. I say all of this to say that the first half of that scripture implies that we as Christians now look at others as we see (the risen) Christ. Question: how would we look at Jesus if he hadn’t died on the cross and if the, uh, festschrift—that is the Bible and all its attendant literature—hadn’t made its mark on the world? To be sure, he wouldn’t be known at all. He would have been an obscure Jewish carpenter, plying his trade, and who decided on a vocational shift as he neared midlife. Perhaps a unique story, made all the more salient for the sole fact that he had some radically counterintuitive proclamations. Things that, while they might sound like some of the things put forth by other religions the world over, hold a freshness and lightness in spite of their weighty implications. But he was just a man! Someone lost to the sands of time and who died a gruesome death through the gerrymandering, bureaucratic, conspiratorial positioning of both elitist, Pharisaic Judaism and imperious Rome. Just a man, one of thousands, if not millions, who had come and gone, before and after. If this is all Jesus was then what’s the big deal? All fantastic utterances aside (see John chapter 10, verses 10 and 30), he was just a man. Oddly enough, one of the Roman centurions who stood by while Jesus was hanging on the cross, said at his expiry “Truly this man was the Son of God (Mark 15:39b).” Evidently something had happened when Jesus died that caused the centurion to see Jesus in a different light than “just a man”. It says in verse 37 that “Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.” The next verse talks about the veil of the temple being torn down the middle (symbolizing the emergence of God’s Spirit into this world) and then we have the centurion’s conversion upon hearing Jesus cry out.

The whole point of Paul’s fifth chapter in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth is this idea of “living in our body”. Verse 2 and 3 say “For in this (this life) we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed e shall not be found naked.”

The whole point of Easter (as seen from the Christian’s point of view) is that there is more to this life than the body and more to what happens after death than its decomposition. If one chooses to look at the gift of existence as consisting of more than what we can see, then they’re on the way to understanding the profound implications of all that stuff in the Bible that makes absolutely no sense to a worldview that dismisses the spiritual. We are more than our “house”. So was Jesus. It is my prayer that you would take him at his word and see, not just the sacrifice, but also the resurrection, as two sides to this very real and very much alive individual who loves you.

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Higher Math part one

“I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)

The same idea is echoed in Jesus’s statement to Philip of “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). I find it remarkable to place myself, purely by power of imagination, back in the time of Jesus and see Him say these things with my mind’s eye. Following this line of thought, I inevitably find myself wishing to a certain extent that I was indeed back there, living and walking around during the time of Christ. But as this is not Science Fiction (time travel, you understand), I gently realize that I am living in a body during 2015. Called by the Lord to take up whatever dimensions I do in the world at large, today. And this is where what Jesus said to Philip takes on a new meaning.

He (and she) that hath seen me

It was easy to see Jesus. Just plant yourself on your step and watch him walk by, “thronged” (Mark 5:24) by the multitude. And there you have it! Not only are you seeing Jesus (as in, the Christ), you’re also looking at the purest expression of “I Am” (see Exodus 3:14) as was ever revealed to the human race. Come to think of it, you may have had to press through the crowd in order to do so, as apparently He had a hard time going anywhere alone when once word got out that He was who He is.

But how does this help us now? My opinion is, everyone would want to see God. In a halfway-intelligent philosophical discussion (even with yourself), you’re bound to come across this: the ontological argument. This line of reasoning says that because existence is equated with perfection, and as God, or “God” is the most perfect being that can be conceived of, He must exist. No two ways around it. But not only is this easily falsifiable (seriously, ask yourself if you’ve ever thrown your imagination out to the four winds/ages and seen God the way He might be if He truly was all you could wish and hope for—and then wordlessly snuffed it out) but it also lends itself to creating a God in our own image. With a skewed nature of perfection that doesn’t hold all the variables in check so as to order a world the way it truly is. Ontology. And yet wouldn’t God have had to create the concept itself, if He truly was perfect? I digress. The reason I asked the question I did at the beginning of the paragraph is because as we all live in the present age, we don’t have the ability to see Jesus with our eyeballs. I mean, assuming He were still with us now the way He was back in the pages of John’s gospel, I would have sold all my belongings (whatever it took) in order to go visit Him—if but for a moment—in Israel. I want to see the person who claims to have come from the Father and yet do nothing to prove His point except die after doing a bunch of kindhearted things.

“And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one…” (John 17:22-23a)

Read through the seventeenth chapter of John. Long one of my favorite in the Bible, we see something about the Lord that we haven’t before. It’s as if He’s laying out the entire strategy of the Father retroactively. He alludes to some primeval time in verse five with “before the world was”. So evidently He would’ve been there with the God we so easily imagine as the solver of all our problems and the perfect example of ourselves in divine form. But again, how does this help us now? Because Jesus has left the earth. But! This is where one plus one gains another.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if depart, I will send Him unto you.” (John 16:7)

The Spectrum of Idolatry part 3 Abstract Concepts

“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And thy saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.” (Exodus 24:9-11)

This, to me, is one of the most powerful passages in all the Bible. It’s as if all the mystery has been removed. God is standing there and life is good. We get to eat and drink and all the while, “He laid not His hand”. It would seem in the Old Testament that things were a tad more serious. The statement implying God wasn’t going to strike them dead for being so close. Evidently, they must’ve been there by invitation. And then David comes along and the image mentioned above begins to take shape:

“Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5)

Very simply speaking, I feel you can’t write something like that–sourced from an original thought, as it were–unless you’ve actually experienced it. And experienced it for yourself, I might add. Granted, we get ideas and we run with them and layer on them our own embellishments. But it can be hard to pin down exactly God’s features. You know you see Him, though, how else can I say it? Let me back up a bit here.

“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)

So, John writes again the same thing he declared in his gospel (1:18). I’m trying to wrap my mind around this evident contradiction. Perhaps if I checked the original versions, there may be a distinction of which I’m not aware. Maybe something in the Hebrew and Greek allows for me to accept how Moses was able to see Him and yet I can’t. Not with my eyeballs, anyway. Can I “see” with something other than my “eyes”? Waxing a tad pedantic, admittedly, I feel I should point out that there are indeed other ways of “seeing”. And it’s these places to which God points as I believe He wants to be seen.

“Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:8-9)

To me, that’s the most ubiquitous question in the universe. “Why won’t God show Himself?” So either Jesus is crazy or He’s saying something around which we cannot wrap our minds unless we believe. When people talk about “God”, my opinion is that they are all referring to the same one. With God as “God”, it rules out any other religion’s pantheon as that very word indicates there is more than one. Jesus says a couple chapters prior that “[He] and the Father are one” (10:30). This replaces duality (and evident contradiction?) with unity. But the one statement is buttressed with the other. We can talk all around and about God all we want. According to Christ, however, we cannot then separate Him from God. If they’re one–and I want to “see” God–I cannot overlook Jesus. Talk about God. How He’s “the Creator”. The embodiment of “the universe”. But He’s revealed Himself to humans through Jesus. Any of the former ideologies and eidolon belief systems bereft of Jesus are essentially idolatry. Because we cannot see God except through the lens of Christ.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

Any Way You Look At It

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2a)

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

The same forwards and backwards

In other words, it takes time to wrap your mind around the things of God. The ways and words He used to convey what needed to be said. The people, too. God is telling His story and we come into its knowledge and power through time and mistakes and all sorts of serpentine ways. I mean that last adjective metaphorically. But with a kernel of seriousness because the things in which the enemy seeks to entrap and entangle us take extra mental capacity to unravel. In other words, you don’t necessarily see the tests in which you find yourself, from without. But! “We are not ignorant of His devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11b)

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man.” (James 1:13)

Going back to the top two references, it is of utmost importance that we stay grounded in God’s word. Citing chapter and verse to make a point will only go so far. There’s that substrate idea (more of a necessity, actually) that one should be “a doer” of God’s word. And not just a “hearer” (James 1:23). Parsing the idea out one further, Paul writing to the Romans (10:17) says “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But then again, back to James (2:17) “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

Any way you look at it–if you do look at it, that is–the message points back to Jesus. He is our hope. Our comfort and our rock. And He’s the one who will intimate to you the truths contained in His word as they apply to your situation. So yes, read God’s Word. Study it out word by word. Memorize it and index it in your mind. But don’t leave off interaction with the One it reveals. Because it’s made of the same twenty-six letters (assuming you’re reading it in English) as any other book in your library or bookstore and is worth only the paper it’s printed on, if that, if you don’t know the God who spoke it. In closing, I would like to make mention of my favorite palindrome. It’s deified. It’s my favorite mainly because I discovered it myself as a kid. And also the aforementioned “any way you look at it” thing. Life points to Jesus.

I Am Not Making This Up

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)

I could tell you the same thing but I’d be resorting to circular reasoning. And if you’re not already inclined to believe (read: humble yourself), you’ll see the flaw in my logic. But no, seriously. I am not making this up. I may be borrowing what I write and, therefore, you read. But it’s not like I’m saying anything other than what’s already been bandied about a million times over. Does that sound argumentative or pessimistic?

Peter, above, says “we…were eyewitnesses of His majesty”. And so, beyond a certain point the same applies to me. I can’t keep talking about this stuff unless I’m crazy or, I too have been an eyewitness. Well, I haven’t actually seen Jesus with my eyeballs. Part of the reason is because I wasn’t alive back then and every other part must necessarily (yes) require faith.

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3)

Here’s the thing about faith. It’s something that is given if you really want it. If you (figuratively in this case) “sell all that thou hast” (Luke 18:22). It doesn’t take the divesting of stuff into a forced asceticism to realize the supernatural. It takes a heart that is willing to accept Jesus on His terms. There’s no other way around it. How hard is it to say I’m sorry and to care about others’ feelings more than your own? Sometimes, it’s impossible. But you realize you’re already forgiven, right? This, then, is a kernel of faith.

“So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

For instance, play the part. Dispense with all the modern-day jargon as to how wonderful you really are and how you can do no wrong and how you must save yourself. Put that on hold for a moment and think of yourself in the worst terms imaginable. Then layer on top of that all the mistakes you’ve ever made. All the lies you’ve told, all the ways in which you (wow, I’m getting negative here) could have been there for someone but chose not to. All the things you’ve ever done wrong. And steep in it for a second. Like wading through a swamp. I’m not just trying to create need. I am actually quite serious when I say that you can severely alter your day and your mood should you face your past and then let it overwhelm you.

Now, continuing on with this thought experiment, think about Jesus. Did you know that He lived a whole life for you? The thirty-three years (thereabouts) He walked this earth were like a trial run. If you’re not quite that old, think about your life as not even starting till after that age. If your life is all you have and you were then asked at the outset to give up about half of it even before birth, how would you respond? Would you be upset? I can imagine so. There are things that haven’t happened in my own life that make me want to crane my neck up to God and ask Him what the deal is. I digress

“Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” (1 Peter 2:23)

Peter’s talking about Jesus again. Meeting Him changes everything. The way you work, the way you play. The way you feel and the way you act. It all comes under His banner. I am not making this up. And for Him to take His life and give it up after just getting started (and also rubbing all the powers-that-be in all the wrong ways–seriously), means we could at least approach thinking about (and quite-possibly doing) the same.

Hopeful Monsters

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:18-19)

Excited, expedited

In other words, Paul’s a changed man. Overnight, it would seem, he has acquired this new desire to live from a new center. Re-word it how you will, what you get upon believing in Jesus is at once life changing, world altering and all-around mind-blowing. And I’m not even getting into the mechanics of it. You have met your creator, now your “Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:45). Do you actually believe this stuff? Actually, yes. But this is just the beginning. Paul expresses above, the acknowledgment of his powerlessness in the face of God’s (still) exacting standards. You thought it was smooth sailing and cheap grace and lots and lots of lounging around doing nothing. Basking in the orange glow of the stained-glass windows as you make your way from this life to the next. I’m telling you, now you’ve acquired the pilot light of your salvation, all the dark you thought was light heretofore will be seen for what it is. An active, living black that seeks to keep you under. The key against this stuff, is when Paul says “for to will is present with me”. We now have, as Peter says “a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)

“And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10)

Worth its saltation

“And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” (Acts 26:29, emphasis mine)

Along with the re-creation of our spirit into something new, comes this desire to please God. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome is so dense, it’s ridiculous. Years of life and suffering and reorientation in our thinking to be more in line with Christ (whatever it takes, and you should totes check it out) is but part of what’s required to wrap our minds around the clear exposition of Paul. Brilliant. To will is present with me. Take heart. Many Christians, myself included, worry and wonder about their salvation in spite of this simple, substrate and undergirding fact: you wouldn’t even care nor have the desire to please God were you not a child of His. But we’re still here in this house. Carrying around our “baby spirit”, for lack of a better term, is this body. “These bonds” as Paul no doubt took one further, being imprisoned for the Gospel. Stretching forth his shackled wrists in the presence of king Agrippa. What Paul went through up to martyrdom, even as Christ did before him, we get to experience in light–the aforementioned pilot light–of a body that struggles with what it does.

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” (James 4:1-2)

In Evolutionary Theory, the term “hopeful monsters” refers to slight and subtle changes within a small group and leading out to larger, thus affecting species as a whole. And while my one-sentence paraphrase is probably, uh, wrong, I will say that the spiritual change upon believing in Jesus is instant. Heck, you may even have to deal with generational issues from progenitors gone by, but the change has happened. You are not who you once were upon birth and you may not even be who your parents thought (!). All of this tells to the once-and-for-all gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. The body? God knows.

In the Balance

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” (Matthew 6:27)

Sententious structure

We’re about there, you know. We’ve reached the point in our thinking, where we see thought from without. And I suppose that is enough to drive someone crazy. A boiled-down definition of schizophrenia, I might add. What I mean is, our sentience is up and quantified. I don’t really care and I suppose it’s my choice. I choose to be a Christian and maintain these strains of thought that, I believe, spring from a heart (i.e. spirit) made alive by the Holy Spirit. But again, if my brain’s merely doing it’s thing having been influenced by my progenitors, I wouldn’t know what to think–if I didn’t have, what I would consider to be, spiritual corroboration for that which “I believe”.

“He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel.” (Psalm 103:7)

This is why I lucubrate. Why I write the way and the things I do. The previous sentence is called a zeugma, by the way. A word whose original Greek etymology means “to yoke”. When you diverge from the verb into two different branches of meaning. I write the way I do because not only is it my unique style, it also clears my head. A daily necessity, I might add. I also write the way I do because I enjoy it. I absolutely love the fleeting feeling I get looking back up the page at both the quantity and also quality of my thoughts, represented in English, font notwithstanding. It’s a fleeting feeling because I go on living. My life springing back from the briefest of moments where time stood still. Now, the things? I write the things I do because, well, they’re what helped me substantiate my existence.  And this is where the zeugma comes in again. I would have to say that “my stature”, as Jesus put it (Yes, He’s literally referring to your physical height. Can I use it metaphorically to refer to my inner person?), the smallest element of that which makes me, me, is this desire to see into both worlds. The realm in which God dwells and the one He put me in. One in which I live simultaneously. And if I had to identify the smallest part of this exchange between the two, I would have to point to words and language as my ways and means of doing so.

“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.”

Sentient structure

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

One of the strongest desires I have is to “set the Lord always before me” (Psalm 16:8). Innumerable distractions seek to cloud my vision and distract my mind from seeing Him at all times and in everything. And if I unwittingly adopt a thought, like a cog, that turns in a direction against what I know God to be, I have to unwind and find my way back with the help of the Holy Spirit. As Solomon says in Proverbs (16:3), “Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” I understand that I can take the tack that ends in denying God altogether. To be satisfied with my lot and realize that anyone purporting things I can’t quantify and qualify, is foolish in the extreme and biased to the point of irrational censorship. But I choose to want to believe. And even that sounds twice removed. I believe. I know. The love of Jesus transcends thought. I hate to sound like a troglodyte here, but I really know of no other way to say it. If you haven’t experienced the love and kindness and character of Jesus Christ, I wholeheartedly recommend it and suggest that you at least take Him at His word to see if maybe there’s more to this world than we can see with our eyeballs.

“I can’t believe that it’s real. The way that you make me feel.” Al Green

Bending Without Breaking

“Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” (Acts 10:20)

You can understand with so pivotal and important an advent as the birth of Christ, how Joseph would need an angelic visitation to put his mind at ease. Also, it happened in a dream. The angel visited Mary in broad daylight. These agents (or one; could’ve been Gabriel in both cases) of extra-dimensionality show up in all their resplendent glory and by their very presence–as well as the memory of them–allay any doubt as to what should happen. Because when you’re dealing with humans and their choices, we tend to need something higher to help us along the way to God’s perfect will. Jesus asks Peter why He doubted as He “stretched forth His hand, and caught him” (Matthew 14:31). The proof, in that case, was in keeping one’s eyes on Christ as the worst swirls around you trying to get you to let slip your anchor in Him. Words like faith and hope must necessarily be verbs and not just nouns (more than gerunds, too). These concepts must be planted in our mind while their roots make their way into our heart.

“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Hebrews 6:17-19)

And here’s where the memory part comes in. It says plainly in the above passage that “it was impossible for God to lie”. Paul writes to Titus (1:2) “God, that cannot lie”. The same line of thinking goes along with Jesus’ equation of Himself to the chief corner stone. He says “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken” (Luke 20:18) See, if we really want to know God, we must see this unbreakable aspect to His character. Impossibly hard. The unstoppable force in the immovable object and transcendent to all comparison. God cannot lie. But we can. Amazing. Remember the things God has shown you. Choose to believe that He’s telling you the truth. And that it is Him showing you. He won’t lead you astray.

What has God shown you and told you? I would say it starts in His word but then He speaks in other ways, too. He speaks through our desires. Through voices we don’t have access to. Through impressions and urges and notions. His voice might carry quietly on the wind and be nigh imperceptible but He cannot lie. His words to you and for you are as solid as He. Don’t doubt. Better yet, let the wind that brought the word, carry the doubt along with it. Sometimes, we can’t help but doubt. Not just what God may be doing in a particular area or instance, but Him too. “Doubt” has its root in “two”, just so you know.

“I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified thy word above all Thy name. In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” (Psalm 138:2-3)

Real quick and this is just semantics but if it says God “magnified [His] word above all [His] name”, and His name is a word, what does this mean? Seen this way, I suppose the answer would apply to Jesus as the Living Word. It really is this simple–at least to God. He’s holding a place for us and He sees the reality of all His promises as applied to us. But doubt will stop things up. Doubt will keep us from receiving the things He has for us. In the top verse, the Holy Spirit Himself tells Peter to remain strong and believing. Sometimes, that’s all we can do. Keep believing, hoping and loving on God. His faith in you will burn through the doubt and *gasp* you’ll be made stronger through it all. And now you can lend that same confidence to everyone the Holy Spirit has you encounter.

Bridging the Gap (Do as I Say and as I Do part 2)

“And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?” (Psalm 50:15-16)

Broken bridges

There is that. What happens when God’s words, the very things (okay Thing: His Word) He uses to reveal Himself to the heart and mind of anyone willing, gets treated as described in the next verse? “Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.” It would seem, following this line, that the problem is in the heart and mind of those using God’s word for personal gain. Whether it be to appropriate more and other than what God would lavishly provide or else to try and use God’s word against Him. Both of which’s bridges, I should add, are out.

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)

See!? See right there. It’s dangerous to play around with something so powerful as the Word of God. To treat it lightly and unmeditatively is supreme folly. The Word of God is that which we’ve been given to build our mind around. It really is that simple. And it’s not about a hard-and-fast iron-willed and unassailable unwillingness to budge from believing the world was made in six days. Because I feel that anyone looking in from without sees that as the beginning. And before I go any further, consider the fact that you have been re-created in Christ Jesus. Couldn’t have been re-created unless you were “created” in the first place. Anyways… When Jesus asks us to believe on Him, and we run into things that conflict, not with the world at large (that’s a given), but with our internal construct, i.e. the state of our heart with reference to Him, that’s where the real struggle begins. It’s also where the real daily battle centers.

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:8-9, 13, emphasis mine)

Building trusses, building trust

“Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” (Proverbs 1:23)

God’s words–the words spoken through the scribes who penned the letters–are how He has chosen to reveal Himself along with His Son. And because the Holy Spirit is an intangible-by-mere-human-means Individual, respect must be paid to both former auspices before receiving Him. This is the point. We as Christians don’t understand the atmosphere in which we walk around, by and large. No, syntax notwithstanding, it’s we don’t by-and-large understand. When we accept the Lord, the circuit (circumcision?) has been completed. All that God has wanted to do has been done in the heart of everyone who believes. The world. The words. Now this. Something altogether new and exciting and…inaccessible to the person who refuses to take God at His Word and subsequently walk in it. And the same rules apply to believer and non: Do as God says in His word and as He does by His Son. Any middle ground is neither here nor there. Paul speaking to the Galatians and their innate proclivity to turn from a fluid walking-by-faith to a more rule-based and legalistic way of doing things. A way that will end in shutting out the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit. He says:

“I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.” (Galatians 4:13-15)

It takes time and pain to work up from the mere words to the living out of that which the words point to. Know though, that God is carrying you every step of the way.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall be my disciples.” (John 15:7-8)

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Every Man For Himself

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” (Joshua 5:13-14)

Of course you know, this means war

Life is busy, no doubt there. And I’m not asking you to stop what you’re doing to engage in irrationalities and things that have no bearing on where you’re headed. Joshua, in the above passage, has the right idea. When God sends someone who has it under control (as did Jesus–I’ve read that this is one of the “types” of Him as found in the Old Testament), best to pay them heed. To take their advice and humble oneself in light of someone who has gone before. How often does someone stop you to tell you something you might not have been aware of? Everything from a direct word or warning from the Lord for your situation, to someone telling you your taillight’s out or you need to put air in your front tire. This might be a broad allusion but anything of this nature is coming directly from God’s heart and mind, to you. He’s looking out for you.

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath called him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (1 Timothy 2:4-5)

And here’s the thing. We are all here (provided we’re believers in Jesus) to serve the Lord. This takes whatever fluid form the Holy Spirit intimates to your heart but I can tell you that it centers around both ministering to Him. And ministering to others. Know that no person at all is the enemy. Everyone is either fighting for God or a prisoner of war:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12-13)

In your corner

Paul goes on to delineate the various types of “armour” that we are to wear. It ends in sounding cliched and cute (how many Christian-y things have you seen that depict the whole armor of God as a literal suit of armor yet don’t go to the top floor regarding the seriousness and confusion of life?) if we don’t realize that we are fighting battles and in a war from the moment we accept Christ as Savior. There are people in my life with whom I clashed at a certain point in my development and who I don’t see or have contact with anymore but miss terribly. You see, I grew through the fight and with God’s help, learned to forgive and love them. And now, I’d love to have them part of my life again. They weren’t the enemy.

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30, emphasis mine)

If we’re only living for ourselves, we’ll not see the state of those whom we’re destined to help to God. God aims at getting as many people to be with Him (and you) in Heaven as possible. Take some time and ask the Holy Spirit to key you in to those that need a little extra something in order to see them end in asking Jesus into their heart. The general observes from the hill. But Jesus came and died.

“Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (Psalm 24:10)