Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Changing Perspectives - The Ultimate Hurdle


Rom.12: 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Col.3: 1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

II Cor.4: 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

This is the greatest hurdle to overcome, and it is the colossal obstacle which keeps believers from walking in the Spirit. And this is no easy adjustment. This is no tweaking of the mind. This is no surface alteration. This is transformational in essence, formidable in process, and daily in practice. The concept has been abandoned by the church and is no longer a challenge, much less a tenant. Even when read these and other verses in Scripture, the interpretation and application is so shallow and so culturally imprisoned that it lacks altogether the power and sacrifice that must dictate such an exhortation. And when such a surpassing principle is presented with so little personal cost or sacrifice, then we can be assured the truth is absent.

But we as believing followers of the Lord Jesus are called to live in and serve in a kingdom that is not of this world. Somehow the church has been able to create some kind of disfigured amalgam that only appears religious when compared to the most extreme dimensions of the fallen culture. So when compared to the godless revelations of the most demonstrative sinners among us, we appear moral and religious. And if moral and religious is our goal, then we have achieved it. But that is a man made goal that has significantly and conveniently lowered the bar to accommodate our own sin and spiritual laziness, as well as provide us with our own ladle by which we can dip into what cultural and material amenities minister to our flesh.

But let us come out from behind the doctrinal curtain and let the light of the Spirit search us and try us. We who claim to believe the Bible to be God’s Word. We who hold to its infallibility. We who state emphatically in the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Let us stand in the light of that revelation and see if it justifies or indicts us. And without the comfort of a cultural buffer zone, or the baggage of how we were raised, or even our ecclesiastical tenants, let us take a vulnerable journey which allows the Spirit to be the Guide and not our preconceived ideas or applications, or any interpretations borrowed from the dead or living.

Let us begin with this all consuming and penetrating question: “Are all of your affections on things above and things not seen?” Think about that. Do not think you can hide behind what others do or what has become acceptable within the local church you love. Step forward and speak the truth. Are your affections centered upon things above and not on things of this earth? This means much more than looking forward to heaven. This is the great divide between being of this world as opposed to just being in this world. These are two diametrically opposed perspectives. One is life, and the other is death. One is Spirit and one is flesh. One is Christ and one is you.

What are the things which invest your emotions and passions? What things arouse your lusts? What things are most important to you? What consumes most of your time? What occupies most of your thoughts? Those questions unveil a disturbing revelation that runs rampant throughout the church. None of us can claim perfection in any of these areas, but my point is that the church no longer even challenges us. And since our leaders are fully compromised and invested in the culture, how can we expect to hear from God’s Spirit through them? The western church walks according to the dictates of this world and in order to appear moral and religious we create straw men like abortion and homosexuality and social justice in order to knock them down and pose for pictures. And patting ourselves upon our own backs, we convince ourselves that we doing God’s will when all the time we are just engaging the world on their own turf.

But the hurdle remains. Are we going to fully admit that God’s Word teaches us that we should live in an eternal perspective, or are we going to minimize and compromise its directives so as to make them more palatable and attainable to our surrounding culture? How can we claim to be following Jesus, and have God’s Spirit living in our very beings, and still be so unremarkable within the culture of darkness? In order for us to suggest we are following Jesus with so little difference we must alter the Word through our interpretation and application. And that is exactly what the western church has done.

Before we can even begin a journey so deep and so profound we must first admit that we have strayed off the Scriptural path. But like the father who gets lost but refuses to stop for directions, the church is so invested in its structure, and the ecclesiastical beast is so demanding, that the church will not even stop to consider its ways. But we are supposed to be children of God who reject the very foundations of this world and walk in the light and power of eternity. And that kind of power cannot come from the things of this world. That kind of divine power comes through sacrifice, self denial, and a relentless desire to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

Gal.2:20 - 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

All of us are well acquainted with that verse and those words. But if we actually meditate on their meaning and significance, we should see that they call us to a life that is not our own. That is a profound paradox, and if pursued and desired, must test our spiritual mettle. The life that follows Jesus is very demanding as well as rewarding. It is far from being politically active or teaching a Sunday School class or, yes, even being a pastor. But since that concept has been lost to the church in practice as well as Scriptural revelation, we must begin with a clean slate. And when we wipe the slate clean we become vulnerable and uncomfortable. We would much rather have a railing on which to steady ourselves. Without some well used ramparts we grow uneasy, thinking we may discover some truth or exhortation that just may revolutionize our thinking and destroy some sand castles around which we have become familiar.

It is a dangerous undertaking to open the “settled law” books and take another look. It is daunting and unnerving, and our flesh warns us against going into extremism. I mean come on, let’s be real. But pragmatism is usually the enemy of discipleship. It is most difficult to interpret Scripture in a cultural vacuum. Most difficult. And it is impossible if our desire is not insatiable and our hearts are not broken. The familiar and safe, wars against the uncharted and precarious. But like Jason, we must close our ears to the sirens of the world, the flesh, and the devil and carefully sail through the channel and head for the waters of the Spirit.

Consider the implications of dwelling upon the eternal. Think about what that does to worry. Think about what that does to the pursuit of wealth or earthly happiness. Consider the implications of the reality of your prayer life. What would that do to fear and uncertainty? How could you complain when your mind and heart were fixed upon the sacred things of the unseen kingdom? When all these things are juxtaposed against what the western church believes, teaches, and practices the evidence is overwhelming. We no longer believe the Bible.

And let us go even further. We do not even care about the Bible anymore. The fallen teachings and practices of the culture, either secular or ecclesiastical, have enveloped any genuine examination of what the Scriptures command and teach. Believers loudly insist that the Ten Commandments be hung on public places and schools, and yet those same people exhibit little of the teachings and spirit of Jesus. Morality issues have replaced redemption. Even financial issues have muscled out humility and the gospel. Eternal things are for a later date while we grapple with the here and now on fallen battlegrounds. As I have said before, just a surface reading of the Sermon on the Mount reveals a painful ignorance of its teachings. But we can use the beatitudes like a group of comforting sayings, and we can paste Scripture verses on our refrigerators.

But if we truly believed in the eternal, and if those things were the all consuming passion of our lives, then just how would it alter our lives, to say nothing of the church at large? Would we borrow money for buildings? Would we pay exorbitant staff salary packages? Would the church be dark night after night except for meetings and activities? Would we pray without ceasing? Would we be so well informed about carnal television programs and Hollywood movies? Would we fast? Would we worry about ourselves? Would we ever participate in the world’s fallen religions of politics, war, and hedonism?

So without a drastic change in perspective we will still practice a religion that is at odds with the Book we so often adorn with flowery words of feigned praise and lip service obedience. The founding fathers will be our gods, the capitalist system will be our provider, the lost people will be our enemies, the Muslims must be killed, the president will be either a savior or the antichrist, the local church will be a family club, and Jesus will be little more than a ticket to heaven. If that is what we want, we have arrived. If not, then we must take a long and hard look at the Scriptures once again and let their power capture our lives and turn our hearts and our eyes toward Christ and all things eternal.

That is the hurdle which leads to the spiritual finish line.
But if we refuse the challenge of this hurdle the race is already over.


JMD said...

Wish this was going to be this week's sermon across America.

Paula NZ said...

For it is through 'trials and tribulations' that you enter the kingdom of God, which is within.

Anonymous said...


Lip service obedience. There's so much of it. I'm learning so much here and as I hear the news everyday. Years ago, I believed that men who claimed themselves christians represented God's truth, and we could always count on them having integrity. Not so anymore.

It's been in the news recently that a professed christian Republican candidate for Senate made a statement during a debate about his stand on abortion. It's reported he said that pregnancies that result from rape are intended by God. Of course, a christian knows that God knew us before He formed us in the womb. And of course, that is correct what the candidate said. And he did explain that rape is a horrible thing, and despite the pain of it, the child out of that union is still God's will. So his intent was to prove he believed that the life of a child to be brought into the world is God's will. I think we all understand that.

The thing that is troubling, for me, is that if a man is that opposed to abortion, and he has a voice, why doesn't he become a pastor? Preaching to his constituents who already agree with him, for VOTES, is distasteful. Why do these men focus on the the sin of abortion, as a political platform, use God's name stamped on it, but forget, or dismiss, or ignore the idea of invitro-fertilization, which is legal? Is that God's will also?

Having a petrie dish become the vessels to unite sperm and an egg is not the bible way. Has it ever occurred to christians that they bark up one tree, yet ignore and close their eyes to the many other trees that are not scriptural nor biblically ethical? How come these christian politicians never raise this issue up? Is it because it won't get the VOTE?

There are so many other things that the laws allow, that if some went over them with a microscope and cross-sectioned them with God's word, we'd find a lot of stuff that wasn't God's will.

Rick Frueh said...

I heard that as well. God does not "intend" everything, but God can use everything. God did not intend a woman to be raped and conceive, however God desires to redeem that soul and use it to His glory. It is offensive when politicians use God to promote their own agenda.