RETURNING TO JESUS
Jer.9: 23 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
Matt.11: 25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Oh but how smug are we in our doctrinal weapons and our moral phylacteries and our many, many different images of God? We have cleverly constructed a religious system which champions a few moral issues and let leaves the weightier and more difficult issues alone. I contend to the visible church as well as myself that we are long overdue for a journey back to Jesus in practice rather than doctrine. This cannot be what Jesus designed for a revelation of His bride. This cannot be a true replica of the life of Jesus. This western brand of Christianity is so unlike Jesus so as to beg the question is it even part of the true and living faith which bears His name. If doctrine is all that is necessary than let the applause begin for we have created a breathtaking landscape of doctrinal teachings.
But if a life which demonstrates a remarkable and observable departure from the spirit and practice of this culture is also essential then we all have much work left to do. And it must begin with a return to Jesus with a broken and contrite heart. And there are few human examples of this with which to set a course. Our journey will be overwhelmingly personal that consumes the teachings of Jesus and completely allows the Spirit to illuminate our understanding and empower manifestations of those teachings in our lives.
I have much fallow ground in my own life which demands a crop. The ministry of the Spirit is a powerful and sacred ministry which convicts the heart and leads us to repentance. Not at the request of men, but at the behest of the Spirit. If we require peers for strength we will ultimately stay where we are, believing we walk with fully with Jesus. But there is no alternative. Who would have thought that those who have testimonies of redemption could project such diametrically opposed images of Jesus? And many times, if not most, the ones who project the same Jesus as we are our great hindrances. The religious flesh is adept at creating cliques where believers can fortify each other and remain isolated from the fullness of the Spirit.
But it is time to move further toward Christ, leaving those things which are behind, and press toward Jesus once again as if we had just been saved and had an amazing and unquenchable thirst for Him which we had not known heretofore.
That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being mad conformable unto His death.
Most evangelicals know how to be saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. We are well versed in that formula. But after one is saved, how shall we then live?
II Pet.3: 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
In other words how can the teachings of God through the Lord Jesus become a practical and observable truth in our lives amidst great darkness? This is a most important question which is by no means a casual undertaking. It will require a knowledge of Jesus and His teachings seen and received without dilution through the culture. And even if we understand His teachings in the unaffected abstract there still remains a Spirit led and empowered revelations of those teachings. And that will result in the light about which Jesus spoke. Just being moral and conservative will never do.
Paul states that we should be epistles read of all men and that we should adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. What would the life of Jesus look like in our fallen culture? What did the life of Jesus look like when He walked the earth? And therein lies true discipleship. It is a profound exhortation that will require more than moral values in the general definition. It is a self denying walk which like Jesus will not respond to the evils all around it with condemnation and irritation. That life walks with a holy compassion and love for those whose fate hangs in the balance.
It does not revile when reviled. It suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with grace and patience. It walks in a completely different kingdom and a completely different spirit. It is different than the culture. Completely different. Absolutely different. Profoundly different. Observably different. Amazingly different. Eternally different. When someone thinks and acts like Jesus he cannot help but be noticed. This is not up for discussion. The first step in following Jesus is denying self and being spiritually insulated from all that is in the world. And in that walk of faith there is peace.
But we are called to be witnesses of Jesus in word and in life. As my young FB friend Jessica Gerken said, “"The World doesn't need to see a better version of us, they need to see Him." That sentence expands the sentence by John the Baptist who said, “I must decrease but He must increase”. This is the sacred room of truth reserved for the sacrificial seekers who are relentless in their pursuit of Christ and who do so without being intimidated or even concerned about what people think including friends and family or preachers.
Since the 60s and with the proliferation of Christian television and books and material and the ever widening preacher idol phenomenon the purity and simplicity of the faith has been for the most part lost. It is now a doctrinal house on one side and on the other it is a place of personal aggrandizement. All in all Jesus and His teachings have given way to the teachings of men, some orthodox and others false. Jesus is no longer the centerpiece of the faith. Now it is man or the teachings about Jesus or Biblical theology or prophecy or morality or a combination of these and more. The faith has shifted into knowledge at the expense of practice.
But the Holy Spirit seeks to take the teachings of Jesus, illuminate our hearts and minds, and then take the essence of His Person and life and impress Him upon us until the clay becomes His very image. I realize these seem like mystical musings to some, but that is the process to which we are called. And make no mistake it is a glorious albeit painful process. And sometimes that process seems like a child using building blocks only to have most of them fall down and he must begin all over again. And in an incredible mystery, sometimes when our blocks fall down is when we are granted a new and fresh and more sacred vision of who He is and where He is leading. It goes against anything this world believes.
It is one thing to believe in Jesus, and it is another to seek diligently to follow Him. The first cost Him everything. The latter will cost you everything.