In an Upside-Down Economy…The More Things Stay the Same
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
I find it hard sometimes to explain how God is working in my life. At many points I have to share that I’m afraid to share. I think there is a stigma, or some basic understanding that comes with the phrase, “God is really working in my life” that leads most people to believe, especially new believers, that GOOD things are happening! That spiritually, exciting growth is occurring in your life, or that some sort of wonderful, powerful revelation has been provided to you that perhaps many others are long to have. Sadly, that is most often not the case. Suffice it to say, and many of you seasoned believers will support me in this axiom, that when one says, “God working in your life”, it does not always mean that wonderful, powerful things are going on. They are all good. But it might take a while for that good to make it’s way through your thick skull before the ‘Ah-hah!’ moment reveals itself.
I have been trying to re-train myself to spend more time in reading. Not just in the Word, but theological works, church history, commentaries etc. I just know I have not been spending enough time with the Lord in these endeavors as of late, and I need to make that change. In this process, I have been reading a great many works or excerpts from classic Christian writers. While not looking for a particular book or theme, it is always amazing to see how God orchestrates the materials that I sift through randomly (from my point of view) in providing supporting or encouraging documents that really do follow a theme.
Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was an amazingly prolific Christian author. He lived and ministered as both a pastor and a writer from the towns and villages of South Africa. All of his publications were originally written in Dutch and then translated into English. As his popularity grew, Murray’s books found their way into more than twelve foreign languages during his lifetime alone.
Andrew Murray’s early writings were primarily written for the edification of the believer-building them up in faith, love, and prayer. Later writings leaned more heavily upon the sanctification and responsibilities of the believer. In his latter days Murray emphasized the need for a constant and vital relationship with Jesus Christ and for consistent, fervent prayer – leading backwards to his addressing the responsibilities of the believer. He also addressed the issue of the Church (corporate) and its lack of power on the earth.
In his book Absolute Surrender, Brother Murray offered this bit of encouragement:
- As we look around at the Church, we see so many indications of feebleness, failure, sin, and shortcoming. They compel us to ask: Why is it? Is there any necessity for the Church of Christ to be living in such a low state? Or is it actually possible that God’s people should be living always in the joy and strength of their God? Every believing heart must answer: It is possible. Then comes the great question: Why is it, how is it to be accounted for, that God’s Church as a whole is so feeble, and that the great majority of Christians are not living up to their privileges? There must be a reason for it. Has God not given Christ His Almighty Son to be the Keeper of every believer, to make Christ an ever-present reality, and to impart and communicate to us all that we have in Christ? God has given His Son, and God has given His Spirit. How is it that believers do not live up to their privileges?
In the context of Brother Andrew’s paragraph above, the word privilege means, a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities. In his mind all Christians have a responsibility to live in the Spirit as a result of their ‘privledge’ of salvation. This is not to understand privilege as we do in today’s modern vernacular, but a privilege in that we need to be honoring the one who privileged us be removing the liability of the penalty of our sin! A death sentence! We need to be honoring God, the one who so privileged us (and made the same offer for privilege to all mankind we might add) by providing for us the Holy Spirit, and a means to walk in the Spirit rather than the world.
Brother Andrew and I see this similarly. The apparent lack of power of the Church to affect the world for Christ is a lethargy or apathy of the individual first, and the Church second. Using privilege as you and I understand it, it IS a privilege to be saved, but all too quickly, and all too often we forget the responsibilities that come with the privilege.
In a secular world the famous quote, “with great privilege comes great responsibility” seems to be familiar to most people. While it is most often misattributed to William Falkner is based on the old French proverb of, “Noblesse Oblique” which translates literally ‘Nobility Obliqates/Obliges’ – certainly applies in this instance. By the act of salvation granted upon us, we are made prices! Heirs to the Kingdom of God, equal inheritors with Christ Jesus our God and Savior as well as brother. With that price being paid, and with these privileges granted, we must live a life that expresses our nobility by mimicking the nobility we serve: A life as a servant. Living for the benefit of others, putting self last and others first in all instances. Walking two miles in the shoes of a brother, not just one, and giving our shirts as well when asked for our coat.
The privileges of nobility, as you can see, are upside down in God’s economy. Christ being the King that we serve, proved His nobility by willingly giving His life for us. Yes, we are princes and will bear crowns. But the King we have subjected ourselves to is a King of servitude who washes feet, touches leapers, councils prostitutes, and the jewels of His crown were thorns not diamonds.
We need to be living a life in the Spirit, lead by the Spirit, RULED by the Spirit. The responsibility of the privilege granted is to do just that. Yes, it is difficult to ‘kill the old man’. Yes it is difficult to die to self and live to serve others in an ‘others-centered’ life. But it is not only possible, it is our duty. If we lived like this, as we are supposed to, the church would look different, because we would BE different! The church would not be confused on issues like abortion and gay marriage, it would be united in a biblical standard of righteousness and truth that is indisputable. The church is feeble, because we are feeble.
Help us god, through the privilege of the Holy Spirit that we take our lives and walks seriously. Strengthen us Father that we may represent You and Your Light as we walk from place to place in our lives. Give us Peace oh, God that when we face trials that we might exude confidence that You are in charge, and that my sufferings are but dust in the wind for this short time.