Thursday, May 3, 2012

Not a Formula, but a Fountain

(Maturing in Christ which makes the heart and head of one entity from which springs a coherent and pure stream of being).

“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:23).”
“For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.  Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, ‘We are not blind too, are we?’  Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, “We see,” your sin remains (John -41).’” 

Just Beneath the Clouds
There is sunshine beyond the clouds
Way above our puny heads
Beyond the secondary light of moonshine
And her third cousin’s twinkling
Stars that brighten the show;
Beyond the production of our collective heads
Beyond the ramifications of our conceived
Conceited eternal destinies
Beyond the mechanical eyes’ reach
Light has yet to illuminate
Our mortal souls.

Satellites circle our circumferences
And answer every angle we inspire,
But when
Oh when!
You mortal souls
Will you understand
And only just
What is clouded?

From God’s perspective there is no gray—white (all of light and color) and black (the absence of all light and color) share no edges and creates no variable shades; light and dark are both alike to God—complete understanding eliminates all variability and shade—but there is no real absence of light (from God’s perspective).  Unfortunately, light and dark are both alike to us as well (being made in His image); however, without His capacity—lacking absolute knowledge—we cannot but be presumptuous in anything we assert from out of ourselves. Lacking God’s perspective and capacity, we cannot surmount the affects of variability and shade (we see through a glass dimly); we lack even enough light to adjust to light.  Our ignorance is so entrenched that grayness is the best we can do; a mixture of light and dark becomes the darkest dark because we cannot make distinctions.  Reality is something we are only a part of, therefore, we can never comprehend reality without outside enlightenment.  There is no puzzle to solve—no ignorance in God—which would prompt Him, however, to distinguish between right and wrong or light and dark.  His no-shadow-of-turning existence is seamless, without flaw, full of light that ever emanates, and creates no opportunity for grayness.  It is mankind alone that gropes along the edges of both light and dark and mankind alone that is utterly at the mercy for truth and reality to be given them from an outside source.
Even the idea of theology—mankind’s study of God and all things transcendent—is presumptuous.  Only an outside revelation from God alone can help us begin this journey, and only ongoing revelation from Him can take us home.  No formula or calculation made from our finite and truncated perspective can ever define reality adequately.  No statement of faith, therefore, can express God’s revelation of Himself sufficiently without marring it—or in some measure—eclipsing God’s own unadulterated message contained in His Logos.  As Oswald Chambers once said, “In the Bible ‘theological’ and ‘practical’ stand for the same thing (2000, p. 428),” and I would add, are actually the same thing; truth is fluid and all encompassing of factual and visceral elements about God that man can know.  Mankind’s knowledge of God circumvents his own exhaustive thinking about the matter; the most intelligent human minds reach only lying conclusions because they viscerally know more than what they are cognizant of.  Chambers also said, “If anything is a mystery to you and it is coming between you and God, never look for the explanation in your intellect, look for it in your disposition, it is that which is wrong.  When once your disposition is willing to submit to the life of Jesus, the understanding will be perfectly clear…and ‘in that day ye shall ask Me no question.’”  In the end, an atrophied head might not ruin one’s Christianity, but it almost certainly will ruin one’s enjoyment of it. 
The revelation of Jesus Christ, however, is a fountain—a seamless flow from on high (but made through our bellies)—that God alone creates and articulates.  This power from on high does not need mankind’s thoughts or words (but is inclusive of them), but simply mankind’s agreement with what He has already said, what He is saying, and what He will say in the future.  A fountain simply dispenses an ongoing flow of water (the Holy Spirit) and testifies of Jesus Christ—in and outside of time.  Man’s words simply explain—or rather exclaim with wonder about the Christ after the fact—how “…never man spake like this man (John , KJV).”  A preacher must express Christ, not himself or even his wonder about Christ; he must draw from living waters, not stagnant pools of past experience or knowledge.  “Once God has spoken;
twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God (Psalm 62:11).”  “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power; for the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power (1 Corinthians 4:19-20).”
There can be correct and incorrect theological points to be made about Christ and Christianity, but the fatal point is to not be pertinent to the situation, viz., to be powerless.  It is the absence of pertinence or a lack of a prophetic element that denudes preaching of power.  The power of an endless life alone—Christ and Him crucified—is the spigot from which resurrection power flows and imbues preaching with power. 

“These are true words of God…that hold the testimony of Jesus…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:9-10, parts).”

The testimony of Jesus is time and space sensitive only because Jesus Christ has made Himself subject to these constraints for the sake of meeting sinners exactly where they are—the condensation of God toward man is the quintessential sign and wonder—the fullness of all dimension and reality delivering mankind from shortsightedness: a smoke-and-mirror-reality.  This deceptive hiding place, this make believe environment, skews his perspective and disfigures his understanding about reality; only the miracle of salvation realized will change his mind and effectually convert him.  God intervening into the affairs of man, however, is exactly what He does—the eternal dimension bleeding into the temporal one and temporarily transfiguring the point at which these two dimensions meet; a lightening flash of Christ across the heavens of an individual’s mind is a heavenly display that indelibly changes the mind of its beholder.  This incontrovertible vision supersedes all argument or mental calculations.  The extraordinarily objective fact of Christ crucified before the foundation of the world and subjectively applied as predestination—all within the scope of human free will and God’s sovereignty—is thus commingled within the Creator and his creation: an intersection of time, space and eternity.   The eternal and temporal likened to objective and subjective reality—and infusing the temporary and subjective with eternal and objective verities—is a process that seems untenable in the early stages to the newly awakened yet still unregenerate mind; the blindness of man is so entrenched that it often takes years to illuminate it—to renew it enough—wherein it will reason in concert with its spiritual heart palpitations.  The spirit of prophecy is upon this intersection of time and space—yet the eternal message is boundless—outside of and inclusive of this moment.  “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances (Proverbs 25:11, NASB).”

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.  When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).”
“And my message and my preaching (Paul’s) were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature…which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.  But…the things of the Spirit of God…are spiritually appraised.  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.  For…we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2: 4, 6, 13-16, parts, NASB).”

Indeed, a promise is given to all destined to finish the race—that we should reach perfection—a maturation that indelibly marks us and seals us within a perpetual state of Christlikeness.  The apparent dichotomy is light shining out of darkness while still robed within mortal flesh; the accusation of hypocrisy only seems unambiguous to the ignorant natural mind.  Walking before God and being perfect is entirely of His doing excepting only our agreement in the matter, viz., our faith in God.  “Only believe” is the simple and perfect antidote for what ails us; unbelief is the brainchild of the brain itself and only those not leaning upon it—obeying its demanding forms of logic, reasonings and musings—will find peace that passes understanding.  The incessant calculating of the natural mind tends only to exhaustion, error and ultimate futility.  The cure:      
A little girl walked to and from school daily.  Though the weather one morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to the elementary school.  As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning.  The mother of the little girl became concerned as the storm began to intensify.  Hearing the peals of thunder and the many lightning flashes—like flaming swords cutting across the sky—the mother got into her car and quickly drove along the route her child used to go to school and return home upon.  It wasn’t long before she found her, but she was surprised by her behavior.  The little girl was not frightened at all; instead, she was stopping, smiling and looking up into the sky at each lightening flash. When the mother's car drove up beside the child she lowered the window and called to her, "What are you doing? Why do you keep stopping?"  
The child answered, "I am trying to look pretty—God keeps taking my picture. 
May God bless you as this child when you face the storms that come your way!
BUT…don't forget to SMILE!

OK…so, grin and bear it, right?  Answer:  Yes and No.
Yes, we would be wise to discern the need to praise, worship and smile even when things are going in a direction that seems counterproductive to ultimate health and happiness.  BUT, that requires faith—a faith that does not believe the circumstances will last, overcome us, or leave any permanent scar.  Contrary to many people’s idea of faith—faith is grounded in understanding (the very reason one transcends the apparent to place faith in something unseen is grounded in their understanding of spiritual matters).
No, a plastic smile and feigned resignation will not do (but others around you might appreciate it till you get a clue)!  BUT, getting a clue is the key—when we have to fake it till we make it we have already failed.  It is true that we can believe something without full cognizance, but without full cognizance, that belief is doomed to die.  Our heart and mind must agree or we are a divided house that must ultimately topple to the ground.   Without enlightenment we are inclined to misbehave; to rejoice always is not some law to simply be obeyed for its own sake (though until our minds are renewed we are experientially under law and thus may operate this way temporarily), but an appeal to reason concerning the ultimate facts of our existence and the ramifications of full knowledge (maturity).  In other words, we cannot long obey something we do not understand; our minds will rebel against it and will sabotage our well-being if its needs are not being met.  The experience of this wonderful salvation is planted in seed form within our bellies—at the very heart of our beings; but as Christ grows up within us it requires our agreement with this growth to reach maturity—and agreement involves the mind.   
God has, indeed, won the victory for us, and even if our temporary experience seems to be lying about that fact—and we seem not to be enjoying the spoils of that victory—we have a choice: to either believe our experience or the news about Christ and His victory.  But why does this way cause us so much consternation?  Why is the road so difficult?  The premise of any argument—the foundation of any inquiry—yields the presuppositions of its questioner and is a key to correctly answer any question.  In other words, from where your question originates and from what spirit you are speaking from matters as much as the naked words utilized.  Contrary to an established cliché, there are stupid questions.  Too many questions asked are presumptuous in nature—devoid of any real thought and consideration of the full breadth of reality (oversimplification); thus, by asking these questions we inevitably get truncated and wrong answers—answers too simple to cover the actual complexity of genuine reality.  The revelation of Jesus Christ encompasses the full breadth of all reality applied—the fact of Jesus Christ is the full breadth of reality.  Until we operate from the mind of Christ we operate from our own mind—and that is exactly the problem.
“All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance (Ex. ).”
"But My servant Caleb…has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully (Numbers , parts).”
The story of the little girl smiling and posing before God is innocent, cute and endearing.  And from the mouth of babes He has ordained praise and displayed His wisdom!  Such reckless abandonment, such simple faith—that she was not in harm’s way—was her orientation (yet not from the standpoint of mature knowledge).  She is correct today—God is taking her picture; but she will be incorrect tomorrow if she continues to think as a child. “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).”
Just as love—as defined in the Scriptures—can believe all things yet rejoice with the truth, so God can make two seemingly diametrically opposed facts kiss.  This Christian journey requires the same embracing of paradox: we embrace both Spirit and Truth—and indeed, the Spirit is truth and the Truth is spiritual.  True love cannot lie to the one it is lavished upon and be a real or mature love; neither can it point out all error in short order (without exercising patience), and do so without engaging even a modicum of heart warmth.  In other words, the heart and the head must be in concert—and expressed in concert—if we are ever to express true Christian love.  The little girl and Caleb expressed the right spirit; the little girl ever remains a little girl statically known to us through the medium of this story alone—but Caleb evolves—he matures.  He endured forty more years wandering in the wilderness—ostensibly for others—before he obtained his inheritance within the Promised Land.  Caleb’s different spirit followed the Lord fully—thus he endured hardship for others—but I suppose he needed the wilderness experience also.  Certainly he gained understanding as he went—though not of the primary or essential kind—he had that from the start; there is a sense where right heartedness never changes and thus never changes our minds.  But expansive understanding is about enlargement to such a degree that it will appear to upturn things we previously held as true.  Enlargement is about width and breadth of understanding (mind) and height and depth of sentiment (heart).  It is called magnanimity (someone large enough and mature enough to not be petty).
  The mountain we have come to mentioned in Hebrews is more pleasant than the mountain the Israelites came to, but I would suggest that Caleb’s mountain—his inheritance—was the mountain we have come to today in the new covenant.  By faith, he transcended time and space and is transfigured upon its peak.  But as he went outside of this world’s constraints to get it right, we can go outside it to get it wrong.  Many Christians come to the wrong mountain—where law is engraved in stone and God is obscured by a cloud of wrath—but this is a real mountain.  And God expresses Himself this way for those who shrink back or give themselves to perpetual playing and dancing; immaturity is a half-holiday at best: its sun sets at noonday.  The questions we must ultimately ask ourselves are: “Will we follow on to know the Lord?”  “Will we reach maturity?”
All formula is truncated and earthly in comparison to a fountain of knowledge and life.  Line upon line is necessary early but insufferable and stilted as one grows and enlarges.  Maturity is about staying in the fountain’s perpetual flow; immaturity is about coming aside into stagnant wading pools—not wrong when young, but insufficient when older.  “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God (Hebrews 6:1).”
Chambers, O. C. (2000).  The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers. 
Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.