“Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, March 28.
“Never let God give you one point of truth that you don’t immediately live up to it.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, March 27.
Concluding a sermon in 1941 entitled “The Weight of Glory”, C.S. Lewis said:
“Meanwile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point. That being so, it may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging. I can think of at least one such use. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat [truly hides]- the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”
From The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses, C.S. Lewis.
What I think God is trying to tell us in Scripture
My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, (Isaiah 55:8)
but here’s what I want you to know:
- I designed you
- I planned you
- I made you
- I love you
- I like you
- I want you
- I care about you
- I bought you
- I forgave you
- I am with you
- I have more for you
- Trust me
- I know what I am doing.
- I can do anything.
- I’m not trying to confuse you – that’s the devil.
- I want you to have peace.
- I want you to have joy.
- My plan is from an eternal perspective.
- It may involve pain,
- But only enough to accomplish my purpose in you.
- If that’s only to teach you something, the pain will end when you learn it.
- If there is more, I’ll help you to endure it.
- It may be to learn how to comfort someone else.
- Please trust me.
- That’s your only way to peace through all this.
- If you’re having a tough time – and accepting all this is difficult for you – please understand that it is all still true and applies to you.
- But you also need to know that I don’t accept invitations to Pity Parties.
- That’s why such get-togethers are so lonely,
- And they only make things worse.
As children of God and citizens of Heaven you are living for now in a foreign land as strangers and aliens. This world is not your home. It is not where your citizenship lies. Your citizenship is in Heaven and your true residence is securely established there.
You shouldn’t think it unusual or unexpected that you are being treated as illegals that don’t belong here.
While you are here, remember who you are and why you are here. Be holy – just like your heavenly Father is holy. While “in Rome” don’t act like the Romans.
Instead, live like the citizens of Heaven you really are – representing the social order of your own country – so that the native people of this land will see your example and might be brought to Christ.
This means that you are not to respond to their abuse as they expect: with malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy or slander. It affects how you interact with authority, whether that is government, a master, or a husband and how you treat those over whom you might have authority. Your goal should be to live your lives in such a way that they attract questions about your homeland and provide you with an opportunity to give a reason for the hope that is in you. So be prepared with answers.
…………. Key verses: (2:11-12) “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against your souls. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.“
Romans – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
1 Corinthians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
2 Corinthians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Galatians – “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Philippians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Colossians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father!
1 Thessalonians – “Grace and peace to you!”
2 Thessalonians – “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
1 Timothy – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord!”
2 Timothy – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord!”
Titus – “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior!”
Philemon – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
A glance at the recipients of the Apostle Paul’s letters:
Romans – “to all those loved by God in Rome, called to be saints.”
1 Corinthians – “to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their lord and ours.”
2 Corinthians – “to the church of God that is in Corinth, with all the saints who are in Achaia.”
Galatians – “to the churches of Galatia.”
Ephesians – “to the saints in [Ephesus], the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians – “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with all the overseers and deacons.”
Colossians – “to the saints, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ at Colossae.”
1 Thessalonians – “to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians – “to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Timothy – “to Timothy, by genuine son in the faith.”
2 Timothy – “to Timothy, my dear child.”
Titus – “to Titus, my genuine son in a common faith.”
Philemon – “to Philemon, our dear friend and colaborer, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your house.”
Here’s a quick listing of the way Paul identifies himself as he opens his letters.
Romans – “From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel …”
1 Corinthians – “From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
2 Corinthians – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
Galatians – “From Paul, an apostle (not from men or human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead) …”
Ephesians – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
Philippians – “From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus …”
Colossians – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
1 Thessalonians – “From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy …”
2 Thessalonians – “From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy …”
1 Timothy – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope …”
2 Timothy – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
Titus – “From Paul, a slave of God and apostle of Jesus Christ …”
Philemon – “From Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, …”
(All quotes are from the NET Bible – http://net.bible.org/bible.php)
Imagine what it must have been like for Saul of Tarsus after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. Here was a man who sincerely believed with all his heart that he was defending the truth of God. But he has just discovered that he had been violently fighting against his God. How traumatic that must have been. Acts 9:9 merely says that he couldn’t see and didn’t eat or drink for three days. He couldn’t see, because he had been blinded by the bright light. (The others were not.) But the fasting was his part. He must have been in deep mourning over his actions against the very God he thought he loved. Indeed, he may have been so distressed that he couldn’t eat. It has to be a terrifying thing to suddenly realize that everything you have placed your energies into has been 180 degrees off!
One or two thoughts:
First, we can be dead wrong on issues we think are critical. What would it take to make us do an about-face on the direction of our lives? Think of your most fundamental belief. What if you were to suddenly be shown beyond any doubt that it was wrong? How would you feel? That’s what Saul would have been experiencing during his three days of blindness in Damascus (and for some time after).
Secondly, this is exactly what we are expecting the atheist, the agnostic, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the materialist, and so many others to go through when we ask them to come to Christ. We tend to think it’s a simple, single step. Far from it! And one of the scariest prospects for them is to begin associating with us – a group they consider to be anti-everything they currently consider to be right.
We must not trivialize evangelism as simply sharing an outline and saying a prayer. It is the work of God in the hearts of men and women, girls and boys. He has chosen to use us in the process first and foremost by the testimony of our lives as a demonstration and proof of His love (John 13:34-35; 17:21,23). Then he is able to use our voices as we gently give an answer to the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15-16).
Finally, are we really open to the leading of the Holy Spirit? We hold many beliefs about which there are disagreements even among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Opposite views cannot all be true. Am I so arrogant to think that all my views are the ones that are?
Lord, guide me into your truth in the things You want me to know. Help me to understand what’s really important to the extent to which you want me to understand. Grant me the willingness to hold loosely those things that are not so important and to allow others to do the same. Most of all, help me to be compassionate and understanding of those who oppose You, to pray for your work in their lives, and to be ready for your timing and direction to share your good news with them.
Shortly before crossing the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He would be betrayed, Jesus prayed for His disciples and all who would believe through their testimony. His prayer is recorded in John 17 and in it He shares His heart. He prays that we will be one just as He and the Father are one. In fact He wants us to be one in Them. He has invited us into intimate fellowship with the Godhead – the kind of fellowship enjoyed by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit since eternity past (Jn 17: 21).
In verse 23, He says that the Father has loved us just as He has loved Him (Jn 17:23-24). Can it be that the Father loves us as much as He does His Son? That seems to be what Jesus is saying and it explains the cross (John 3:16 & 1 John 3:16).
He wants us to demonstrate the same kind of love, not only to God, but to each other. In fact, this is how the world is supposed to be able to believe the Gospel message – as they observe our love and relationship with one another.
The day after this prayer Jesus modeled this great love on the cross and made such a relationship with God and each other really possible.
Suggested Study: Read and meditate on John 17 every day for a week.