Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nothing Personal Part 3

I’m on the finishing strait of this mini diversion from the fasting series – after this just one more part to post and we’re done! The inspiration for this was a series of things happening on Tuesday that conspired to bring this about. I’ve shared my journey from being close-minded to a more considered approach to different expressions of Christian faith. I’ve also identified my dear friend Pete Orton from Burton-on-Trent who has helped me in relationship reaching the position I’m in.

Now what you’ve read up to this point has been fairly harmless stuff. These be Just mere thoughts from the head of a professing follower of Christ who is as flaw-ridden as the next follower. From here on, however, things may get a bit rocky for certain Christians and non-Christians alike. So before you start reeling off correspondence, remember the crucial disclaimer from the first part – remember it. Now the thing about disclaimers and this one is no different that you can still read it, read the rest of what I’m about to say and be offended. Be seriously aggrieved. Be mighty put off and think that in as much as you thought that CD was alright that he’s revealed his true colours and he’s a rather arrogant, nasty piece of work who has this high convoluted view of faith. Can’t stop you having those views or any others. Go ahead and have them. I’d like to think, however, that it wouldn’t change my views on things at this time. Still the disclaimer is there all the same.

The link between what’s gone on before and this series on Nothing Personal is that it was whilst I was with Pete on Tuesday that the things happened that brought about this series of thoughts. An incident took place among a group of us that left things in a rather baffled state. What it brought to mind was something I said to Pete later on and that was it’s nothing personal, it’s something spiritual. Earlier on in the day I had read Luke 9:1 about Jesus giving power and authority over demons and that verse in itself arrested my thoughts for the rest of the day and was useful for that scenario at least in encouraging me to fight the battle at the level at which it was being fought.

We’re reminded again of that bizarre episode in scripture where one minute Jesus appears to be calling Peter the rock on which the church will be built with the gates of Hades never prevailing against it, and then a few verses later he appears to be calling Peter the devil. Now I don’t know about you, but if I were Pete, I’d be a bit hurt and confused, because one minute I’m being called the rock and the next minute I’m the devil himself, what’s that all about?

Not only that but in another episode Jesus is talking to Peter about how the devil wanted to sift him as wheat but he’d been prayed for so that when he got over it he would encourage his brothers. So one minute he’s Pete, the next he’s the Rock, the next he’s the devil and then he’s the target for the devil! That’s quite a series of identity changes, non?

My understanding of what’s going on here is the reality of spiritual warfare and where we humans are in the midst of everything. Scripture points out that the prince of this world has blinded our eyes. The narrative of the mission of Christ is to a people who have been captivated by death, disease and the devil. Jesus has come on a rescue mission that’s why we refer to Him among other things as our Saviour. We’re also informed that we cannot serve two masters … that in itself is pretty indicative that we’re going to serve someone or something.

By nature despite being made in the image of God the curse of Adam means we do not have the natural default to serve God. So it doesn’t matter how good we look or what apparent good things we do or how good we are, at the essence of our being where we are meant to be connected to God there is a fatal disconnect. That disconnect has thankfully been sorted thanks to the Cross, but it is now for people to acknowledge that and thus go from serving gods to serving the One True God.

In the meantime we have all sorts of expressions of fallen man. Some are misguided and oblivious to how misguided they are. Some stumble in the dark but proudly denounce anyone who would have the arrogance and temerity to suggest that there is a truth to be found and a light to guide us to that truth – such claims, we are told by these experts, are dangerous and behind many of man’s inhumanity to man. There are many others and the theme is familiar – failure to acknowledge the Sovereign Creator of the universe.

This is what makes the gospel so incendiary in many places because it does have the temerity to declare a single all embracing, comprehensive truth. That truth is the existence of God and His role in His creation as redeemer coming in the form of a man to satisfy righteous judgement and restore man back to Himself to recognise their place to bring Him glory. People will not accept that. People will enjoy the love part of the story, and enjoy the bit about apparently being the object of the sacrificial love, but they will not accept responsibility or their own divisive, rebellious nature to a Power that defines Himself as Yahweh reveals in Scripture.

That is why the power in the gospel us so amazing because it and it alone saves people – not intelligence, not works, not any other measure of man – only faith in the revealed Son of God and His restorative, atoning work at Calvary.

In the final part of this series I’ll wrap things up and show how that plays a part in subsequent conversations with people who are not yet of the faith who come with particular … baggage. Make sure you join me for that final part of this series. As ever your views are welcome.

For His Name's Sake



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