LOOK UP, NOT DOWN
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Gal. 6:8)
Hello again, after the longest period of inactivity this blog has seen – an astonishing 16 days! And even as I write, I don’t have much time to do so.
I hope that those of you who read the two first parts of The Basics have found them as useful as I did. Because we live in a time where things that matter are getting diluted and devalued, while we are more and more placing our trust in things that we should be laughing at.
We live in the Era of Instant Gratification, Grotesque Materialism and Unbelievable Selfishness, and this has sadly transferred into the Church. I was speaking yesterday with a man who’d spend a good three decades working as a missionary in Southeast Asia (Thailand and Cambodia). Now he has finally returned back home, only to comment that “people come to the Church hungry and leave unfed”. And the reason he gave for this was that, apart from the happy shallowness of modern Biblical teaching, there is also an increasing egocentric tendency among Christians: “Me, me, me – bless me, help me, give me.” How true… and to think that there are places in this world where Christians rejoice in their salvation and their relationship with the Lord without even the basics of life, and often under penalty of death. And despite that – or because of it – they are infinitely more healthy spiritually than the so-called “Christian” West is.
It just proves the point that the Bible makes; what we’ve been talking about for so long: A Christian’s joy comes from the work that God has done in their life – not from the circumstances of life. That’s why Paul exhorted the believers in Colossae to “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). Why? Because when we learn to see things the way God sees things, then we can learn to think, react and live the way He wants us too.
Sounds impossible? It is – humanly speaking. But the Bible teaches that Christians have a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17), and that the whole progression of the Christian life is essentially a transformation of the mind, from the old and sinful to the new and godly. You don’t believe me? Well, it was hard even for Paul’s readers to grasp it – I mean, having God’s mind?
For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ 1 Cor. 2:16.
You can’t be more explicit than that: We are called, as Christians, to teach our minds to think differently – to think the way God does. That’s why Paul writes to the Romans: …do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God– Rom. 12:2.
It’s part of our new nature – even better, it is a natural outcome of being a Christian – that burning desire to shed the old “me” stuff and put on God’s character; Jesus’ personality. Look how powerfully the Bible talks about it:
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27)
…put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24)
…and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him… (Col. 3:10)
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering… (Col. 3:12)
It’s clear then: The Christian life is a life of transformation that centres around Christ and not me. It is impossible to experience the joy of being a child of God, the blessing of being in His presence, and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life if that new life you were given is still clinging on the old things that don’t belong to it anymore, and if it still has you at the centre instead of God. Just as John the Baptist said when Jesus came on the scene: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
That was the way Jesus preached the Gospel: “…he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Mat. 10:38) and “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27). He set God’s standards high from the very start – so different to how we evangelise today.