I was reading not long ago of Thomas Merton’s thoughts as he watched an animal emerging out of hibernation. Merton thought the animal was emerging too early, that warmer weather had not truly come; indeed there was snow on the ground and snow falling. It turns out that the animal was right and Thomas Merton was wrong. Despite what Merton was truly observing, he drew a wrong conclusion about the seasons by observation alone. The animal going by something other than simple observation knew the times and the seasons.
Jesus seemed to know when spiritual seasons were changing. He looked at Jerusalem one day and realised mid-sentence a season had changed: “Would that today you knew the things that make for peace… BUT NOW, they are hid from you.”
If we are born again then we have a Kingdom of God awareness within us, for the Kingdom does not come by observation of outward natural signs, it is within. I am not sure how much teaching there is in the Christian Church to help people read Kingdom awareness within them. At times that Kingdom awareness will completely agree with what can be deduced by a non Christian trusting what their senses are observing. At times however, the witness of the Kingdom within will lead to thinking and action that differs from what a non born-again person without the Kingdom within them could know or choose to do according to their “light.” That does not mean we should despise observation and reason and logic. These are part of our God created humanness, and we should thank God for such things and make sure we are not so “spiritual” that we despise them. However at times the Kingdom within us which is not of this world will indeed tell us to do something or give us an outlook that makes no logical sense whatsoever to someone not born of God. Remember the cross is foolishness to the world, but to those who believe, well, we have received the revelation that it is the wisdom and the power of God. Flesh and blood did not reveal that to us. Without being born of God we cannot see the Kingdom, it is as simple as that. As God’s children, born from above of His Spirit, we should indeed “Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding.” We need to remember that “There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof is death.”
We need to listen for the witness of God’s peace concerning any conclusions or decisions. In saying all this, please remember that when God asks us to do something that defies common sense and we are sure He is in it, that is one thing; to take a step off a cliff when God has not commanded us to do so, is quite a different matter….I think I want to pray for all of you who read this that you will know the difference, and save yourself from the torment of confusion and the taunting of the devil or our fellow believers who say “Where is your faith?” At times Jesus can say that to us, but remember the devil effectively said the same to Jesus; “Just jump, you know it says you will be rescued from harm.” “Oh God may we know the difference between Satan’s taunts and the challenge of our Saviour.”
I hate to say it, but much of the “challenge to greater faith” exhortations in those Charismatic circles which go beyond the bible as compared to Charismatic circles where the bible is fully and faithfully honoured in its witness to the activity of the Spirit, are actually “jump of the cliff ” taunts of Satan. Our Heavenly Father does not make a habit of goading His children and mocking their lack of compliance. I remember the ineffectiveness and the unsettling effect of teachers at school who seemed to depend a lot on goading, cynicism or mockery in relating to those they were seeking to teach. Don’t feel pressured to oblige any preacher or teacher, when they seem to be exhorting you to do something against the peace of God within you. Don’t feel bad when you don’t blindly follow the blind (even if well-meaning and enthusiastic sounding) guides, as though your faith has failed and you have been a coward. It probably hasn’t and you probably are not! Rather, God has perhaps saved you from presumption and the disaster it can lead to. He wants you to be a redeemed “you” not an obliging clone of a preacher or “teacher” who is frustrated with those they are exhorting or seeking to educate. Let God help them to face their own issues; complying meekly with their every demand may stop that preacher or teacher from facing up to where they themselves need healing or even repentance… needs some preachers eventually face up to, to the relief and blessing of their congregation….but sadly, some never do and continue to weary and to blame the flock….
… back on the main track now! To be honest I distrust both terribly sensible Christians on the one hand and on the other hand, those who seem to continually challenge common sense as though it was a bad and untrustworthy thing. It is trustworthy, though not always or finally.
I started with Thomas Merton – not the most often advised reading by evangelicals or charismatics, I know, and even to a genuine certain extent understand: I want to end with another of his thoughts. He says somewhere or other that our mission is “to feel the Spring.” In the context of today’s blog at least, I sort of like that. The Kingdom within knows that in the overall sense, the Kingdom season has been the same since Christ cried, “Finished” and “death could not hold its prey.” On one level the Kingdom within tells us it is always deeply, eternally, unshakeably advancing Spring which winter can never challenge again…though of course there is day and night, sun and rain, there are bright days and dark days, warmth and colder times, even in Spring…
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