Thursday, September 24

Going to Jerusalem

"We are going up to Jerusalem." Luke 18:31 (NIV)

Oswald Chambers reflects on this verse in My Utmost For His Highest devotion for today, entitled "The Missionary's Goal".

"We start with Christ and we end with Him ---"until we all attain to the stature of the manhood of Christ Jesus,"" Chambers reflects. "Not to our idea of what the Christian life should be."

All of Christ's actions reflected a step-by-step journey to the goal of His birth, life and ministry: Jerusalem and the final rejection of mankind of its Messiah. The closer He drew to Jerusalem's gates, the more direct the attacks from the ruling religious class became. Where He was hailed as a King by the people when He approached on a donkey, He would be crucified as a criminal by those same people's decree. In the place where the Spirit of God once resided with the nation of Israel, Jerusalem, returned the Son of Man to finalize the covenant that would bring a 'new living way', a covenant that would 'make all things new.' One of the most powerful moments that I replay in my mind's eye when I am in devotional time with God is that one of Christ in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ where He has fallen under the weight of the cross and His mother, Mary, comes up to Him….beaten, battered and near the limits of His humanity, His only words are, "See! I make all things new!"

In Jerusalem, the culmination of God's plan for the redemption of mankind was set to a quick pace and ended with Christ's declaration…."It is FINISHED!"

We all are on our own journey, Chambers writes, to our own Jerusalem. It is not the hearts won to Christ, nor the posturing of our faith through the witness we garner in the living on this earth or the work to which we toil that is to be our aim…though those things are surely a part of the journeying to the capital city of our homeland…..for we are pilgrims walking through lands that are not our home. Our aim is to do our Father's will.

Some argue with me and the usage of the word 'journey' in context to my development under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, begun that February day in 2004. It is not that I was not given a new heart, a new spirit redeemed and restored by the blood of Christ…for surely it has happened because that is what God's word tells me takes place upon my rebirth. It is the journey of subjecting the corrupt physical and mental aspects of my humanity that I speak of…..for we do not claim our immortal bodies or imperishable minds until our Lord and Savior returns to claim what is His, as Paul tells us in the first Corinthian letter:

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NIV

We journey towards our own Jerusalem, just as our Savior did….He for the sake of sealing the covenant and us for the sake of arriving at the new Jerusalem He will bring upon His return to be judged, crowned and made immortal and imperishable. Just as the old Jerusalem bore the prophetic fulfillment of the Messiah's return, so the new Jerusalem will bear the prophetic triumphant permanence of God's new covenant:

"He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken." Isaiah 25:8 NIV

The long journey we take reaches its goal when we cross the gates of our home city, of translucent gold walls and precious gems as its building materials…..the return of God's children in prophetic restoration…our destiny according to the purposes of God's will. Just as Christ's journey on this earth was in full accord with God's will; He would daily communicate with God before His day would start, it is our aim and our sacred duty to journey in similar fashion: to be in full accord with God's will……

And the journey is hard. Evolution, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, increased sexuality immorality, redefinition of sexuality, the increase of liberalization and socialization as a government movement and the corruption of gender to individual desires; all come against the natural and moral design of God. The more we approach the gates of the new city, the increase of dissenting voices will come over our own as we proclaim the truth….defend its application in our life…and refuse to fall against the postmodern definitions of faith, belief and Christianity. The effects of our journey; the work we do, the assurances we gain nor the trials we face should affect our forward travel….they are each merely preparation of the next season of the path we've taken….not the all-consuming goal.

Our goal is to reach Jerusalem's gates.

"Nothing ever discouraged Our Lord on His way to Jerusalem. He never hurried through certain villages where He was persecuted, or lingered in others where He was blessed." Chambers points out. "Neither gratitude or ingratitude turned Our Lord one hair's breadth away from His purpose to go up to Jerusalem."

Just as the events in the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem, were the manifestation of God's will that began with the virgin birth of Christ, were lived in the youth and young adulthood of our Savior, solidified in His ministry and realized in the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation….so shall the gates of the city hold within its splendor the culmination of the manifestation of God's will for His people.

It is up to us to not be discouraged or distracted from setting our feet upon that path by the continuous and dedicated supplication to our Heavenly Father for the discernment and light to guide our feet…..where He would have us linger for a moment, we linger….where He would have us move quickly through, so we should hasten our pace. If we get caught up in the work, we will find ourselves growing weary of the journey, far before its destination is in sight. We cease to submit our will to His and become the authors of our involvement, rather than the servants of the Most High God.

"There will be the works of God manifested through us, people will get blessed," Chambers writes. "..One or two will show gratitude and the rest will show gross ingratitude…."

If we are consumed by the ministry to which we were enticed to join God in; merging our smaller story in the greater context of His story, we become like the Ishmael of Moby Dick fame….so consumed with the interworking of God's design that we are engulfed in its sustainability rather than its substance, reclaiming the story authorship to our own hands and means, and eventually the rope coil of our own passions, OUR ministries, that is tied to the harpoon of our faith becomes a noose and will wrap itself around our necks and pull us into the void of the dark sea of our own making. Ministries will fail, lives disillusioned and hardened and the effectiveness of the battle becomes the wound that is not allowed healing but is opened to the point of being a mortal one. We will become consumed by the seasonal passage through the villages and towns along our journey and lose focus on the journey's destination, bound by the insane hope of our own abilities, passions and glory, and forget the King to whom we have sworn our allegiance and service to.

Maybe that is why the Psalmist said:

"I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever." Psalm 44:6-8.

We cannot rely upon our own understanding to get us through but must be totally surrendered to God in order to prevent our own corruption, still existing in this mortal and perishable body, to interfere and draw us away from His plan.

Just some thoughts for today……

Chambers, Oswald; His Utmost For His Highest

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