Sunday, June 22, 2008

Elaboration on My Goals

I am thankful this morning for Iris's comments yesterday. I've had this inner pull that something was missing in the post of 6/19, "Heal the Wound." It is one of those consequences of needing others. Left alone, any one person's thoughts and/or statements fail the fullness of the Mind of Christ. This post may seem off topic from the flow of my recent posts on hole and wound, but this will help build meaning for those topics to continue.

My goal is to illustrate how faith brought by a believer to the relationship with Jesus is an understanding of something in the spirit with very real consequences for everyday life lived in the natural. Consider Paul's words in Eph. 3:4-5
4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.
In the search to express "mysteries in Christ," I seek to reach, both for myself and as encouragement to others, what Paul describes later in the same chapter, verses 16-19
16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
While I have focused my thoughts on the believers' experience and attempted thereby to show how one might grow in understanding the "way" of living in the spirit, I have failed to discuss much about the way of the Holy Spirit toward us. If that has left anyone believing that I am somehow suggesting a works effort in gaining God's favor, please hear my heart and mind say, NO.

I believe the Father's favor is fully upon us because of the righteousness of His Son, the Lord Jesus. Nothing we do, say, think or feel as believers has one iota of effect on the Father's love for us nor upon the turning of His favor toward or away from us. Further, the work of Jesus on the Cross is finished. All that was required for crossing the divide between the Divine Heart of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the fallen heart of humanity is accomplished. The only limit to our experience of what God has fully provided, the abundant life of the spirit, is in our response to His provision, and this is the measure of our faith.

Here is a real life example of what motivates this theme in my posts. I am teaching summer school. This group of children represents grades 3-8 and those with a range of limits on their learning abilities. It includes students who would be close to being identified as mentally challenged based on IQ; intelligent kids who won't do homework, thus sending their averages into the failing range; and a host of students who are both weaker in mental abilities and carrying much emotional baggage both from man's depravity while in the hole and the hurt of being wounded by this life. (Friday, a twelve year old boy who I was correcting for using a vulgar term told me his mom had told him visiting porn sites on the internet was OK as long as he didn't do it too much.) As this type student reaches 7th and 8th grade levels, they are challenging to teach.

Within this context, I recently overheard one of my fellow teachers pull an 8th grade girl into the hallway to correct her behavior. The teacher basically unleashed her frustrations in a full verbal confrontation that was heated and passionate. The teacher used phrases such as I don't care what you think and if you're not intelligent enough, etc. The teacher in her frustrations unleashed intimidation with anger to get the student's in-class behavior under control. Here's the kicker, the teacher is a professing Christian.

I cannot condemn her frustrations nor the expression of it. (Been there, done that.) However, it was clearly not profitable for her or the student. Why did she not put herself into the full power of God available to her and confront the student with love and the insight from Christ? Years ago, the group I was in would have simply applied the jargon phrase in the flesh to explain the teacher's behavior. True enough perhaps, but why did she not live that crucial moment in the spirit? As it played out, she most likely confirmed for the student that the world is the harsh and unloving place she has always known.

I think for a variety of reasons many believers do not understand how to be in the spirit. Life in the full provision of God is the means by which Christians may bring the love of God into the disorder of the fallen world in which we live daily. It is like this, God has a power chord in His hand which delivers the power of His Spirit. He stands beside us with our full knowledge and by our request to be part of His life in each and every moment, but if we do not pick up our end of the power chord...


Steve Sensenig said...

I think that many times we don't live those moments (such as your co-worker faced) "in the spirit" because we don't stop to consider each moment as an opportunity to do such.

It's like we live on "auto-pilot", just coasting through, not realizing that every moment presents us with a choice to live in the spirit.

Paul said somewhere that we should "watch carefully" how we walk. That is, I think, an important facet to walking and living in the spirit.

ded said...

Agreed, Steve. That "auto-pilot" function of the heart has gotten me in more trouble!

So what's the anti-dote to auto-pilot? Are there any other factors that hold us back from choosing Jesus' ways? How about habitual sins believers fall into other than the way we might treat another person? What about chemical dependencies?

Steve Sensenig said...

I think it's where we set our focus. In this sense, I think your recent series on idolatry comes into play. When we set up other things (ideas, goals, actual possessions, etc.) as the source of our fulfillment, we take our eyes off of the one who fulfills us completely -- Jesus.

I know I reference Paul a lot, but if you'll indulge me one more time :) -- he says that we need to set our eyes on things above. When we do this, we do not fulfill the deeds of the flesh (which would include angry outbursts such as you described here).

In this sense, then, the way we treat others, the idea of chemical dependencies, etc. all become functions of seeking fulfillment outside of Christ. Deep at the heart of what took place with your co-worker (and I'm not pointing fingers...we all have those experiences to point to) is a self-fulfillment outside of the spirit.

By that, I mean that taking out our frustrations on someone else is a way of making ourself feel more secure and fulfilled in our own position. (We all know it doesn't work, but we still try it anyway.)

In other words, when I take my eyes off of Jesus, only then do I lose my temper with my children, or at least be less than patient with them. But if I am focused on Christ and his spirit within me, I can only respond with the love of the Father.

Not sure if that answers your question, but those are my rambling thoughts this morning! :)

ded said...

I expected you to answer like that. I agree the answer is always the same. Practice the spiritual discipline of inwardly turned toward Jesus.

Josiah said...

No increase of grace based on works...that sounds like basic solid theology. Perhaps though the nature of grace is opportunity which may be left untaken and thus in the moment the believer is living in less grace. Not in the measure poured out upon us but in that which we recieve and have capacity to receive. He who finds a wife finds favor with God; could this be an example of increasing grace. just a thought

Steve Sensenig said...

I expected you to answer like that.

Am I that predictable? ;)

ded said...

Josiah...increased grace in finding a wife? Increased blessing for sure!
I like the insight that grace may be an opportunity that remains unreceived. Somehow that motivates me to rest more fully in the spirit that I may know the fullness of grace afforded this soul.

Steve, you are not predictable. I was trusting that we thought that similarly.