Monday, July 28, 2008
Some of the best advice that I have heard in a while is, “Look Up!”
We were instructed to wear our helmets and to watch our heads. If we collided with something we were to say, “Thank you helmet!” and then attempt to be more careful, cautious, and observant.
You see, we went caving last week with one of our adventure camps and we were squeezing through some pretty tight corridors to navigate this dark cavern entrance and passage. We were prepared though. We had on helmets, gloves, long sleeves and pants, and a headlamp to be able to make our way through. You really had to watch what you were doing to keep yourself from getting stuck, or hurt, or worse, lost. There were times when we were crawling through some long tunnel like passages on our bellies, you know, the army crawl thing where you are basically dragging your body along. In these tight situations you had to look at where you were going and what you were doing, and you had to look up. If you didn’t you were sure to get a head ache, or go missing, or get turned around.
Paul tells us to look up in Colossians 3: 1-2:
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. ”
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 3:1-2
In Caving you have to be aware of your surroundings, you have to follow your leader, and you must look up. This is no different in our walks with Jesus. If we are going to complete this journey, if we are going to exit this present darkness and enter into the celebration of His marvelous light, we must look up. We cannot look down at what is just right in front of us. We cannot look at the ground and to those things that so easily distract us from our God and where He is leading us. We must look to Christ and what is going on around Him. We have to be aware of our surroundings and be aware of His leading. It is Jesus’ perspective that will lead us on our way.
Looking up and being led on The Way,
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I was at a gathering a while back where there were a lot of theology majors mingling around and spouting off all their knowledge and their thoughts on God. It seemed as if they were “one upping” one another and they seemed to be generally enjoying hearing themselves talk without really listening to anyone else. What made this situation worse was the fact that their lives did not seem reflect the things that they were talking about. The whole conversation seemed impersonal and Jesus was no where in the picture to be found. It seemed that they spoke quite eloquently about God, as though He were some sort of theory, without talking as if they knew Him at all. It was not intimate.
I am not saying these people did not know Jesus. I am saying that the conversation was lacking some sort of connectedness. It was not grounded in Jesus. I felt lost in a haze of intellectual jargon. I was in a fog of the empty, the intellectual, the irrelevant, the distant, and the impersonal. What agitates me the most, however, is the fact that I know that I have been guilty of doing the same exact thing as they were doing.
In speaking about following and learning from Christ, or discipleship, Paul gives this instruction to his readers in Colossians:
“Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. ”
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 2:8-10
When I am at my best I simply point to Jesus and look to Him for all clarity. As Paul says, “Everything of God gets expressed in Jesus.” I don’t need to dissect every minute detail, or speak philosophically or intellectually. I do not need to argue or sound intelligent about God at all, as if it impresses Him or brought me or anyone else closer to Him. There is no magic formula or secret books to read to be in deeper fellowship with Him. I don’t have to be brilliant and site multitudes of biblical scholars or theological geniuses to be close to God or to understand God and relate to Him and others. I simply need to look to Jesus. His power and His supremacy and deity expresses all that I ever need to know about God. Jesus and Jesus alone, it is that simple.
Not being mislead, and by His grace, not misleading others,
Monday, July 14, 2008
There were many storms in the Shenandoah National Forest last year. There were several ice storms and countless numbers of thunder storms and wind gusts. These storms drastically changed the landscape of the forest floor and made navigating the trail systems very difficult. Old growth poplar trees and oaks were blown over onto the trails. It was a mess. What happened to these trees became a mystery to me and I was perplexed that trees of this magnitude would end up toppled like matchsticks. After further inspection it became clear to me what the problem was. The root systems of all of the toppled trees were shallow because of the rocky soils and boulders that scatter the landscape of the mountainous terrain. In fact, the root balls of these trees had pulled up huge rocks and boulders leaving gaping chasms where the trees once stood. Without depth to the root systems these trees were doomed to fertilize the forest floor.
In speaking about following and learning from Christ, or discipleship, in Colossians, Paul gives this instruction to his readers:
“My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. ”
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 2:6-7
Paul tells the Colossians, and this information is equally as relevant to us as well, to live Christ and to be deeply rooted in Him. The key words here are live, deeply, and rooted. These words do not just hang out there alone however; they are describing how we are to be in Christ. We are to live Him. We are to follow and to obey all that we have been taught and all that we know. We are to live deeply rooted in Him. We are to go deep into who Jesus is by learning all that there is to know, meditating and studying His word, obeying His word, praying, being in fellowship with one another, being in tune with His Holy Spirit, and diving deeply into the depths of who He is. A shallow root system simply will not do, less we end up on the forest floor of faith failure like little match sticks blocking fellow travelers paths and rotting into obscurity as simple fertilizer for more fortunate well rooted undergrowth. We are to live . . . deeply . . . rooted . . . in Jesus Christ.
Sprouting deep roots in Him,
Friday, July 4, 2008
“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. ”
What is discipleship? Who is a disciple? A disciple is a student or a learner. Someone who studies under a teacher is a disciple. As we seek to follow and learn from Jesus, we are students of Jesus, we are disciples of Him. He is the Great Teacher and we are his pupils. We as Christian are disciples.
Wikipedia notes that the word disciple appears two hundred and thirty two times in the four gospels and the Book of Acts. The Greek word disciple (3101), according to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, appears two hundred and sixty-eight times. This trumps the word Christian, which only appears around three times, like in Acts 11:26: "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." This term Christian was first used to describe those known to be disciples, or followers of Jesus. The other two occurrences in the New Testament are Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. These occurrences refer to the public identity of those who follow Jesus and His teachings.
The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament describes a disciple this way: “27.16 μαθητήςb, οῦ m: (derivative of μανθάνωa ‘to learn, to be instructed,’ 27.12) a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal—‘disciple, pupil. ‘No pupil is greater than his teacher; but every pupil, when he has completed his training, will be like his teacher’ (Luke 6.40). ” In plain terms, we are learners of Jesus and in the end we will look like and be more like Jesus.
Paul taps into this idea of discipleship and beautifully describes a portrait of it in his letter to the Colossians in chapter two, verses two through four:
“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.”
A disciple is someone who looks like their teacher. They are woven into the fabric of the tapestry of the teacher’s lesson. In this case that lesson is the gospel message of love. This love is none other than God Himself. A disciple is in tune with everything that the teacher is instructing them. In this case the instruction is everything that there is to know about God. A disciple is confident, secure, and at peaceful rest with the message of their teacher. They are focused on the lesson. In this case, and as it pertains to Christianity, the lesson is Christ Himself. There is nothing greater according to Paul in these verses of scripture than the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ who has been fully revealed to us. A disciple follows this revelation of God in Jesus Christ and is not led astray by false teachers. We don’t have to look any further and we don’t have to look anywhere else.
May we not follow after a cheaper imitation or be misled by the world’s false teachers.
As true disciples, may we look like our teacher who is none other than Jesus Christ: God incarnate.
Sitting at His Feet,
The Holy Bible : King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995, S. Lk 6:40
Louw, Johannes P. ; Nida, Eugene Albert: Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains. electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. New York : United Bible societies, 1996, c1989, S. 1:327
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 2:2-4