The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
“You say you are rich but you do not realise that you are wretched ... poor ...”
One of the most devastating realisations that came in the new perspective God was giving came from the letter to the church at Laodicia. Here we were at the forefront of ministry, where the action was. We had the methods and God was using us to advance His kingdom. Boy he must almost have been as pleased with us as we were of ourselves...
The letter starts – “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness ...” Here I am setting myself up as a great witness for God. I had all the methods, I knew how to reach our culture, but the reality was that it is Jesus who is the faithful and true witness. I was putting forwards my methods, but was I really putting forward Jesus? Was it Jesus the person who passionately loves us, or was it a neat technique for conveying essential information in a way that grabbed the attention of the hearer?
“These are the words of ... the ruler of God’s creation.” Here I am, the one who has it sorted out, I am developing leaders to help advance the kingdom of God, but where in all of this does the ruler of God’s creation fit? Where is Jesus? Does he fit in this scheme that we have so cleverly devised?
Jesus for one was not amused. “I know your deeds” (And surely it was deeds that characterised where I was at.) “that you are neither cold nor hot. ... So because you are lukewarm ... I am about to spit you our of my mouth.” Here I was setting myself up as the mouthpiece of God. We had the message of the gospel and we were going to get it out to these students in Southampton. Yet Jesus’ attitude here was, I am going to spit you out. I don’t want you representing me. Not because my doctrine was wrong. Not because the methods were wrong. Not because of what I was or was not doing. No the reason was that there was no focus on Jesus. The ministry was not the overflow of my relationship with him. It did not burn with passion that comes from being with him, but rather from the desire to do my job, fulfil my responsibility in his kingdom. It was the work of a manager, not of a lover and Jesus was not interested.
He goes on “You say, ‘I am rich’ ... but you do not realise that you are wretched pitiful poor blind and naked.’ Yes, I really had thought I was rich: Rich in methodology; rich in the knowledge of the Scriptures. We specialised in giving other people this sense of wealth. Of helping them to realise that they too could learn the techniques and the scriptures and so have confidence in ministering to others. Without realising it I was going about spreading spiritual poverty. For when I think I can do it, then I don’t need to depend on Jesus in whom is the real wealth and strength; the one who is the True Witness.
I was left with Jesus’ counsel at the end: I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire –gold representing faith. White clothes to wear –white clothes representing holiness. Salve to put on your eyes – Spiritual insight. This was my prayer for some time from those days. That Jesus would come to me and show me how to go to him for his riches, his holiness and his insight; that I would be first and foremost His and that my message would be Jesus.