Today is probably confusing nature. It is no doubt used to being confused by now, but snow in Edinburgh when it is almost May? There must be animals either thinking they came out of hibernation too soon or being tempted to go back into it too early.
At times in my Christian life I have felt that the seasons are not right for what God has been saying in my deepest heart to come out into the open and walk around in full view. It seems that what God is saying in my heart is not necessarily what the dominant message of the moment seems to be in Christian circles. I sort of feel that might be the case with this blog today. Perhaps it should have stayed hidden in hibernation for another while, but I feel prompted to let it out to walk about, and I am yielding to that temptation. I am, in a way, coming out in this blog…
I think I have been sensing the sadness of God the Father. I don’t mean sadness at what is happening in the world, but sadness about what is happening in the church, and most especially in churches that have a reputation of being alive. Years ago I remember reading a book called “My Father is the Gardener” by Colin Urquhart. Due to my lung condition I have had to get rid of all books that have been in my possession for a while because of an allergy to mould spores, which means I have departed company with hundreds of books. “My Father is the Gardener” is no longer on my book shelves. As far as I remember towards the end of that “story” about renewal in the Holy Spirit, there is a prophecy in which someone expresses the sadness of the Father in the midst of a Christian conference in these simple terms: “I am looking for my Son. Where is my Son, Jesus.? I am looking for my Son. Can you tell me where I will find my Son? Will I find him here?” I guess that is what has been sleeping and breathing deeply with a slow but steady heart beat in me for a few years now; The Father is looking in the Church for His Son Jesus.
My version of that is if it does not look like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, if it does not look, feel, smell like the Jesus I read of there, I don’t want anything to do with it. For a long time as a charismatic I have gone with the mantra that God offends the mind to reveal the heart. I still believe it, but it is not a blanket principle to excuse anything and everything that is done supposedly in the Name of Jesus Christ. I used to encourage people to be open minded when the Spirit of God is moving, because sometimes things can look bizarre. I still believe that but again it is not a blanket principle. Now I am older and have less energy due to illness, I am really not going to commend anything that I have to surround with Kingdom of God health warnings which shows that ultimately that event or that ministry is perhaps as healthy or good for me or you as a packet of cigarettes. Life is simpler for me now. If it does not look like the Jesus I read of in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, then I don’t want anything to do with it, no matter how popular it may be, and I will not encourage others to take anything to do with it either…though of course if they feel different and want to be involved they are free so to do. To those who try and wriggle out of what I am saying theologically by saying that we do not know Christ after the days of his flesh now but as he is in risen glory, as though that were an excuse for ignoring the Jesus of Matthew, Mark Luke and John, I say simply, you are wrong! It is the same Jesus who is now glorified. He still has the same heart and the same priorities.
Which leads me to this; what is His priority? To save us form our sins of course. But what is sin? I know all the technical biblical definitions such as missing the mark or crossing a line etc etc. But though these are the dictionary definitions and are indeed accurate, in themselves they do not quite get to the heart of things concerning what sin means to God and to man. I am not sure I have ever got closer to the heart breaking reality of what sin is than when I read these words in Jean Vanier’s , “Jesus, gift of love.” He says this;
“Throughout his life and ministry Jesus reveals a new and deeper meaning of sin. It is not just disobedience to a written law, the refusal or incapacity to obey because of the power of passion and pride. Sin is the breakage of a relationship of love, it is the breakage of covenant, the breakage of trust. It is to say “no” to God and to the vision of love; it is to turn one’s back on Jesus; “I do not want you and your saving power, your promises or your love. I want to do things on my own, my way.” Sin is to work against love and communion. … that is why Jesus rejoices when he meets people who have discovered the emptiness of power, of things and of flickering distractions, and who seek communion with him; and he rejoices when he meets little children who want to be held and when he meets the poor, the weak, crying out for recognition and relationship. In some mysterious way Jesus is consoled by the cry of the poor and the broken. They awaken the cry to give love hidden in his own heart, The disciples do not understand Jesus and his desire to give love; they are too taken up with their own projects, power and the need for messianic and spiritual success… Jesus is a lover…crying out to give himself…” (Jesus, Gift of Love, Page 59.)
I had to shut the book and sit and think and after a few tears coming to my eyes because of the beauty of the writing and the fact that the writing was so so true, I turned to pray.
There is one test for whether Jesus is really present somewhere or in someone. Is there sharing in His joy when the weak and the poor come into relationship with him? Is that at the centre of why I live or at the centre of what I am involved in as a Christian? Am I organising my thinking, my life, my priorities, my service around this Jesus of Matthew Mark Luke and John.
I have been thinking about what church I might go to when I retire officially. I think it would be a church in which I can look and find Jesus the Son of God being honoured for Who He has always been and always will be and wants to be in the life of His Church. For me that is now more important than the style of worship or whether that church is famous for being evangelical or charismatic. If I can ask this without being judgmental: Will I find it easy to find such a church wherever we end up living?
Mm… not very sure….