Saturday, February 20, 2010

The path to knowing Jesus better

Good morning my friends. I pray you are enjoying your Saturday at least as much as I am. It is the one morning I get to start my day slowly; spending the time in the Word and prayer while drinking my tea with no press on time until mid-morning when I must take my daughter to dance. It is good to start a day in this manner, especially when the rest of the day is filled with chores and errands. However the day begins we must include the Word, prayer and worship if we are to keep our focus in the day. It is important for us to remember that we are a people of purpose and a people of growth.

In his letter to Philemon Paul mentions a spiritual truth that seems to have been set aside for the most part in our current age. The truth is that as we walk in our mission we grow in our spiritual understanding:

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. (Philemon 1:6)

Paul states to Philemon a simplified version of what he wrote to the Ephesians:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Sometimes we get so caught up in considering the five-fold ministries we forget that their purpose is for training. They are to train people for works of service. Underline that please; works of service. Right after this there is a "so that". There is a natural benefit to being involved in the mission of Jesus Christ and it is personal spiritual growth. Paul writes this as a progression because that is exactly what is suppose to happen to us personally and the Body as a whole; we are suppose to be growing. Look at the progress; built up, reaching unity, becoming mature, attaining the fullness of Christ. Paul puts it to Philemon simply as, share your testimony with people and you will gain greater spiritual understanding. The understanding does not come in listening to sermons and participating in Bible studies, as important as they are. Understanding comes in teh "doing" of the Word.

Show me an immature Christian and I will show you a person who is not participating in the mission. It is not good enough to simply have faith if you want to grow. You have faith so you can participate in the mission. You can't participate without faith but neither should you waste what has been given to you because along with being saved you have been called. Remember James' words:

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
(James 2:18)

This was a sticking point for James as he spent most of his letter addressing this problem of lazy believers. One of the most powerful statements in his letter is a wake up call to the Body:

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26)

Do not think this to be a new problem for the Church; it has been a part of us since the beginning. We here this from James, now read this from a great hero of the faith, William Booth: "We must wake ourselves up! Or somebody else will take our place, and bear our cross, and thereby rob us of our crown.” Can we even tolerate such a thought? Can you imagine the disappointment of our Lord if he has to call another to take our place because we failed to take up our cross?

I have no idea how but we need to give ourselves a good shaking to wake ourselves up to our own failings. We cannot be a people of faith by theory. We need to examine the Scriptures more clearly and understand that everyone God called he called to take action. We have been called as a nation of priests who have a mission to bring the light of Jesus Christ to every dark corner of our world, which includes the person living next door and the people we work with. Even today, as you participate in your shopping and errands look around for the opportunity to put your faith into action realizing that the Spirit is using it as a teaching opportunity. He wants you to grow and become mature and it only happens with participation in the mission.

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