Well, I began my graduate level theological studies and immediately I was bombarded with the spirit of pride. Now as I have fought off that beast, for the mean time, I find myself frustrated with many strange and beautiful perspectives that challenge me and some perspectives that just flat out frustrate me.
This morning in my intimate time with God I found myself thinking of Jeremiah’s calling where God says that “I knew you from before you were in the womb.” Calvinists take that scripture and say “there it is, God foreknew and predestined”…. But I see this passage and say that, before we were on this planet we were with God, that God breathed His spirit into us, so before I was in my mother he knew me because I was with him. So plainly I have it all figured out right? (Tongue firmly pressed in cheek)
Then this morning, I ran across some scripture that I just could not get away from I read them over and over.
Luke 18:9 To some who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else he told this parable:
The more I read it the more I tried to step out from the weight of it to somehow encourage me like I was not one of “those” people or the other deflecting idea that maybe this would help me understand “those” people. I reinterpreted my conviction to mean “well it is by Christ’s righteousness that I am saved not my own”, so this can’t be me. Which in all practical terms may be correct… but this was not what God was trying to tell me this morning. You see it’s thinking like this that makes my heart more calloused, and my head more hardened, and my soul more endangered.
Paul worked his salvation out with fear and trembling…. and this man was more pivotal in the spreading of the Gospel than anybody ever in History next to Christ himself. He wrote that “He was striving to the goal of salvation… not that he achieved it…”. Paul was never at the place, like I am, where I say in my mind “by my faith in Jesus I am in right standing before God”. My false comfort before God has made me lazy. It is a poison that I need to repent from and have removed from my soul before it kills me and my hearers.
I had the strangest insight the other day and when I say strange I mean strange. Have you ever seen balding men who have a “comb over”. Comb over being the weird long hair that covers older men’s balding area of the top of their heads. Well I was thinking of this when it hit me that there are barbers around that cut these guys hair to look like this. There is someone out there who helps these men pull off this stunt of a disguise.
As I wondered about this strange phenomenon I was reminded of the many “preachers” who just tell there congregations what they want to hear. They “tickle the ears” of the people in their congregations in stead of speaking the real living word of God (2 Tim 4:3). These barbers just keep right on covering up these men baldness like it doesn’t even exist.
We are people who would rather not have confrontation even if it kills us. If my arm had an infection that was possibly life threatening I would probably avoid going to the doctor. The doctor might say, “we will have to amputate your arm to save your life” and I would rather not listen to that nonsense and let the infection spread. This is why we need spiritual authority in our lives that are really seeking to speak the words of truth into our lives and this is why we cannot be people who avoid the presence of the Lord.
Did you know that when you become serious about weight training that you have to trick your muscles into getting sore and trick them into growing because they build up a defense that you have to work around. How much more then my brothers and sisters are our bodies are fighting to resist the life changing word of the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, we need to become vigilant and determined to touch the hem of our Lord Jesus. We need to deny our flesh and seek the things in the unseen.
Luke 18:10-14 Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
So, even though you pay your tithes, fast twice a week, go the prayer meeting, and perform great religious roles; May you find a brokenness in your heart for the life giving presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. May you seek to be challenged and changed by scripture instead of challenging and changing scripture. May your time spent with Christ be from the only posture that brings justification before God… brokenness.