Saturday, February 06, 2016
On The Playgrounds With God
First, beware of acquiring so much information about relationships that you treat people as case studies for the templates you access in the file cabinets of your brain. Do you have some of those? I sure do. Those templates, whether they involve children, adults, co-workers, love-interests, relatives or strangers, can easily get in the way of Christ in you and the leading and evidence of the Holy Spirit in you. Plus, you’ll not as easily get to know God, who is all about relationships and is rather good at them. While relationships get our interest—and they must—they are the playgrounds of God with you. Keep the truth of the gospel in the center of your relationships, reflecting upon it and the immediate presence of the Spirit, and you and yours will know “the power of God.”
Let me show you this from the New Testament. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 2:1 “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
That makes a difference, right?
So why was the great apostle Paul afraid and trembling when with the Corinthians? Well, certainly the Corinthians had a not-so-good reputation for decent and hospitable behavior toward others. Paul likely knew that. However, I think Paul trembled because he didn’t erect and rely upon a personal façade, a kind of “Here’s-the-image-I-want-to-project-to-the-Corinthians” template to get them to do what he wanted. He had nothing to hide behind. No personality to push at them so they’d understand better. No excessive happiness (“You Corinthians are the greatest people in the world! You’re my best friends!”), no professional demeanor (“Please take your seats, Corinthians, and I, apostle, professor, bishop, reverend, ex-Pharisee, brother Paul shall bring you the gospel hidden for thousands of years.”), and he had no promise of prosperity following his ministry among them if they tithed (“You’re on the gravy train now, Corinthians! The wealth of Rome is on its way to you!”). No, he had none of that.
Among the Corinthians, Paul believed that knowing Jesus and that He had been crucified for them all was the best way to navigate relationships—elbow to elbow, face to face. No façade. No show. No template. When he could easily have put up a front that conveyed confidence and authority, he chose instead the defenselessness of knowing Jesus right then, whether Jesus gave him anything to say or not. That is scary. And that is where the evidence of Christ in you is uncovered. Is it mysterious? Of course it is! It’s white knuckles sometimes! It’s choosing an uncertain blindness to what fills the eyes for what fills the heart instead—and that’s God. But unless you choose it, you may not find how good life in the heart really is.
When you refuse the flesh’s diversionary tactic of relational templates because you believe that Jesus is in you, and that the Spirit’s great delight is to make Him evident and known in you (and maybe through you, in this fruit or that fruit), that is life—real life—by the Spirit. That is what you get with Jesus. It’s yours. And that is how He is formed in you, it’s how He becomes evident to you and through you.
When you do this you may find yourself saying a lot less, actually. I have. You may find yourself caring a lot more. You may find that you see people differently—better, more truly. You may find that it gets easy because it’s with Him, and that’s the point of Christianity—with Him, who comes to live in you. You may find that what you do say to people is right from your heart to theirs. And that is going to count.
That is why a godly trembling might be just the thing for you right about now, a holding back from the old relational templates of days gone bye . . . when you didn’t have more, when you didn’t have Who you have now. It will mean that God is calling you to the playground. A little “Come away with me. Let’s do something for people. You and I, we’re good at this together.”
And because of Him, you are.
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “On The Playgrounds With God,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click https://youtu.be/Q18hkO6_tEw, or scroll down this blog page.)