Saturday, September 27, 2014

Glowing Tabernacles

In the Covenant of the Spirit we as believers are the tabernacles of God. The Old Testament tabernacle was made of wood and linen, but in the New and Final Covenant the tabernacles are made of flesh and blood.

II Cor.4: For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are in reality not only the tabernacle of God, but we are the ark of the New Covenant in which God dwells. But in the Old Testament God’s presence was reserved for the high priest every Day of Atonement. All who might attempt to enter the Holy of Holiest would die in God’s presence. The Ark was carried upon wooden staves because to touch it meant death as Uzzah found out. But conversely, in the Covenant of the Spirit, all who seek and find God’s presence find life and life eternal. It is a sacred mystery which has redeemed souls by the millions since the Day of Pentecost.

But after we are redeemed, and after the Spirit enters our beings, what then? That seems like some discussion question but in reality it represents the essence of what it means to be inhabited by and follow Jesus. And it is a question which is now rarely asked because professing believers think they know and are really uninterested in finding out things that may cost them deeply. Oh how the church seeks prosperity and answers to human dilemmas and problem solving, but where is the passionate seeking to please God by becoming a glowing tabernacle for Jesus that shines His light to a dark and lost world?

Let us strip away the convenient metaphor and search diligently for the truth. If you are comfortable with feeling warm and fuzzy and acknowledging the elegance of this tabernacle metaphor then you will resist advancing into inconvenient and uncomfortable and self denying territory. This is a land where sight dies and faith lives. This is where the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. This is the land where you both die daily and you live daily as well. This is hallowed ground that is covered in His blood. This is where true miracles are waiting to be apprehended by sacrificing our wills and laying hold of Him in all His magnificent ways. This is a land which will cost you a lot…everything.

But when we have understood the sacred metaphors and the priceless truths presented unvarnished in Holy Writ, it is then we must allow the Spirit to take God’s truth and make present application which through His power can use flesh and blood to convey that truth through thought, word, and deed. This is no trifle. This is the challenge to all who wish to follow Jesus and take His redemption to desperate human souls. He must increase and increase and increase and we must decrease and decrease and decrease.

The process of living Jesus and authentically revealing Him through your life must begin with a fundamental understanding of just what is going on here. We must take our theologies and light a fire to them and allow the smoke to travel into our hearts and minds. The stakes are of greatest seriousness and the glory of God is also greatly involved. If we allow the cares of the world to fill our hearts and minds then we will not be able to follow Jesus at all. The knowledge of eternity is part of the fuel that empowers a true disciple. Jesus did not come to earth to change the culture. He came to change eternity for whosoever would believe.

And therein lies the most profound truth of all. Man’s fall was complete and hopeless. Christ’s redemption is complete and filled with hope. But through the years the church has diluted the gospel into all kinds of formulas and quick fixes and something used to enhance men’s earthly lives. It is almost breathtaking to see the lack of depth or cost connected with the modern gospel. It  is now a ticket to heaven that costs nothing either in its purchase or in its journey.

To be called to follow Jesus rises higher than just to pay your taxes without cheating or letting someone go in front of you in a grocery store line. It is a path which costs everything and comes with a reward unknown in this world. To each genuine believer there is an inward light, an inward fire, an inward presence, all of which emanate from God. And that glow desires to shine through a human life and into the world. And through selfless acts of love, kindness, grace, mercy, and others this light can be used by the Spirit to communicate Jesus the Christ. It is a mind boggling ministry which takes place in the invisible spirit world because it is impossible in the flesh.

But, sadly, the western church lives by the strength of its eyes and not by the strength of its faith. And in so doing the tabernacles have grown dark and cold. I see an occasional post on my timeline which comes from a blog called “Right Wing News”. That in itself should tell us all we need to know about how the evangelical world has played the harlot. We can never be a glowing tabernacle if we are perceived as conservative or Republican or even as pro-life. And when we are seen as national patriots it dilutes the gospel and blurs any hint of the Lord Jesus and His passion.

We must invite and beseech the Spirit of God to completely illuminate our hearts and minds and then as we understand the soaring truths that are inherent in Christ we must humbly but energetically submit to everything He desires.

But the first step is to see the culture as an enemy of Jesus in every way. The moment we see any part of the culture as friendly toward Christ is the moment we enter compromise and eventually complete assimilation. And when you become assimilated in the culture an incredible and powerful phenomenon takes place. You actually fall in love with the part of the culture you deem as moral or at least innocuous. And through the sheer weight of practice and participation and experience you no longer see the spiritual enemy that the culture actually is. You may be a tabernacle but you no longer shine or glow. Your witness has been extinguished and you cannot even see it because you now consciously and subconsciously evaluate your spiritual walk by comparison with others if indeed you evaluate it at all.

But if you sincerely and passionately desire to shine for Christ you must set a course. And that course must begin with a research of what Jesus taught. And that research must be accompanied with much prayer, contrition, fasting, and a relentless pursuit to emulate what you learn. Why are we not the most compassionate people in the culture? Why are we not the most gracious people in the culture? Why are we not the most humble people in the culture? Why are not the most humanitarian people in the culture? Why are we not the most loving people in the culture? Why are we not the most redemptive people in the culture?

Why? Because we are not actually following Jesus nor do we actually wish to follow Him if it means all those things. We have our doctrines, bathed in orthodoxy, and that is what we believe constitutes following Jesus. And that is why we can hate liberals and gays and still consider ourselves as Jesus followers. That is why we can participate in the dreadful system which is constructed and practiced against what Jesus taught and still we consider ourselves as Jesus followers. That is why we can covet money and things and still consider ourselves as Jesus followers. It all stems from a friendship with the world and an ignorance of Jesus.

But if we truly wish to be incandescent tabernacles for the Master we must not only become thoroughly versed in His life and teachings, but we must spend quality and sacrificial time with Him. Think about it. Why do we “have devotions”? Why do we define a quiet time as reading Our Daily Bread and saying a two minute prayer? How can we get up to go to church and arrive without spending time with the One we supposedly are going to worship? The answer is simple. We have been assimilated by the culture and there are many things like Martha that consume our time and thoughts. And so we have created neat, little “devotional” times which by comparison to earthly interests are embarrassing. So instead of being a living sacrifice we give God a minor offering and go about our busy lives. That is not being a disciple at all.

So in order to become a glowing tabernacle we must diligently pursue Christ as if our lives depended upon it. We must reject the things of this world and seek those things which are above. It is imperative that we studiously and prayerfully take inventory of our lives and see if there is any compromise within us. To love Christ is to loathe disobedience or even ambivalence. To love Christ is to despise your own flesh. To love Christ is to reject the spirit of this present world. To love Christ is not to give him a ten minutes devotion, but it is to present your bodies a living sacrifice…holy and acceptable.

But when and if we are glowing tabernacles which allow Christ Himself to shine brilliantly in and through us remember this eternal truth. Jesus will get all the glory. And that, my friends, should stir all of us.

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