“My sheep give ear to my voice, and I have knowledge of them, and they come after me: And I give them eternal life; they will never come to destruction, and no one will ever take them out of my hand. That which my Father has given to me has more value than all; and no one is able to take anything out of the Father's hand. I and my Father are one.” John 10: 27-30 BBE
It has been one of ‘those’ weekends, where the defining line between hope and despair are dimmed and the reality of the impossible faith becomes see-through in the light of day. And in ‘that’ weekend, I typically consume myself and wonder if I am some kind of cosmic joke to God….a checker moved about a board of real harsh reality, at the whim of the pleasure and amusement of a God that doesn’t care……that has predestined me for the scrap heap rather than the treasure pile.
The furnace isn’t coming on as it should have and it’s getting colder.
It is funny how quickly the fabric of my life unwinds under the pressure of living. Seems there is always a crisis to overcome, a moment in time that bears some pain and the continuing saga of struggle against something; sin, financial insolvency, depression, or a host of other things. I have a huge electric/gas bill, a ‘penalty’ bill from DirectTV and no gas/non-food money for a while….at least two weeks, until I can start working as a cab driver….which I need really to get some glasses to make it easier to read street signs and a dentist to help with some tooth pain.
Money can’t buy you love but it is the currency for everything else.
Pastor John McLean, the former Elder Pastor of Berean Bible Church was giving the sermon at church last Sunday, to which I had arrived late because I ran out of gas on the way into church….ironically outside another church that was meeting at a local middle school on Hix road…..two people blasted past me at the entrance to the school and walked into service. Guess there’s nothing like being late for service?! Pastor McLean was giving a sermon on 1 John 5:18 ff about how to identify a Christian.
Always of interest for someone in the position like mine.
One thing that struck me that he said was that a Christian will always struggle against the tendency to sin…..the temptation if you will…..to allow the old nature to supersede the new. Daily we have to face that old nature, that lives within ourselves, a duality that seems to be impossible but isn’t in the reality of this place. It amazes me that there are those who claim to be sin-free in this world, who walk a clearer path, truly, but still face the temptations and the slippery slope of sinfulness. In their denial lies sin.
We claim to follow Christ and yet, in the very basic structure of that we lose the meaning of following Him….of being made righteous in His sacrifice and brought instantly into perfection because we are a linear people, unable to project ourselves into that reality even as we struggle in this one. Christ walked the earth in a dual nature; fully God, fully Man. I’ve often wondered why that was the case, why God….one of the Trinity….would have to suspend His Godliness to be human so that He could save the whole of mankind. Oh, I understand that He had to stand in for each of us, to be a substitutionary payment of the sins that have kept us from God’s relationship, the perfect Lamb without blemish taking on the blemish of the world. Without reason, without right…..we have the ability because of the part of God that is within us (faith) to claim that sacrifice, that payment, as ours and become co-heirs with Christ.
But in that duality of nature; where Christ was fully God and fully Man, it brings a greater and more meaningful understanding why He came to live among us, to save us and stands waiting for the time when He will come again to claim what is His and His alone. A lesson, a promise and the methods to which we can walk in the duality of our own nature as He did….being true followers, disciples, of the Lord God, our King and Redeemer. We will never lose this old nature that has been harbored in this corrupt body and we will never be free of the sinfulness of the world that has decayed along with the rest of creation as it waits for mankind’s redemption. We can’t, for in the realization that we are corrupt lies our salvation, in our realization of the depravity of ourselves we find the ability to turn to Him and see where the truth lies, where the hope is born and where the righteousness of the Spirit embedded in us from the moment of our salvation resides. We find our abilities, our works, and our moralistic ‘goodness’ paled and worthless in the light of God. We realize that we cannot, will not, and are not able to walk with God by our own strength.
“When the soul discovers this divine influence, they leave aside all their good works, practices of devotion, methods, books, ideas and spiritual persons in order to be guided by God alone, entrusting themselves to that purpose which has become the only source of perfection for them.” Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, The Joy of Full Surrender.
As George Mueller related to us, it is at that moment where we reach the impossibility of ourselves to do the work and purpose to which we have been designed, endowed and set aside for in the perfect and glorious plan of God for the permanence of His kingdom here on earth…….when we realize beyond that shadow of a doubt that we cannot be the person needed for that job…..when we face the depravity of our nature and realize it cannot be in the same room as a holy and righteous God, at that moment
We become free.
Because we can face the depravity of our old nature with the dominance of the new because God is in control and God has the power to overcome the sinfulness of that nature and bring us towards the righteousness we have already be imparted with. His elect have been already identified and He is shaping each one of them to pick up their crosses at the time of His perfection so that they become the mighty warriors the Kingdom has to fight against the evilness of the lost one and his minions.
We are sheep…… moving at the sound of our Shepherd’s voice and gathering together under His protection for the promised safety, the imparted comfort and trust that comes from surrendering ourselves to the authority and power that lies within us because of the impartation of the Holy Spirit. We accept the brokenness of our nature, our bodies and our world, surrendering it all to the thrashing floor of God’s house…….we become journeyers without a map, guided by a pillar of smoke in the day and a column of fire at night.
Restless souls longing for home at complete and utter peace as we journey on.
“God’s action is forever new.” Father de Caussade writes, “It never retraces its steps, but always marks out new paths. Those who are led in this way never know where they are going. Their roads are to be found neither in books nor in their own minds. God’s action moves them step by step, and they go forward only by His leading.”
That is the duality of living that Christ showed us, while He was fully God yet He surrendered Himself and His path to the will of the Father and brought His fully human nature constantly under the mantle of God’s control. He walked in the truth because He surrendered Himself to it and never strayed because God Himself cannot sin, God Himself cannot commit evil and if God Himself is in control, how could Christ do wrong?
Once we accept Christ as the Savior who died for our sins, confessing with our mouths and being baptized in representation of His death and resurrection as a public declaration of who’s we are……we can never be shaken from that salvation.
The rest of the journey is developing the faith we have been given to the awesome and inspiring heights of glory for our God through the divine influence of His power, perfection and sanctification.
And it is when we have reached those plateaus of doubt, where belief cannot survive and faith requires us to accept that which we cannot understand…..at that moment, we become the greatest weapons in our Father’s arsenal.
For the greater glory of God.