Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Living in the Fall of Man: On A Lonely Christian Walk

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"The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world.  His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone." 
-A.W. Tozer 

Are you feeling caught between worlds?  Are you feeling troubled by an emotion you can't quite name?  Are you desperately lonely?  Cut off? Perplexed? Amazed?  I know I am, more so than not.  It is the cross to bear in this world.  What an algid cross it seems to be, so unremitting.  

Your an exile friend.  Your on a lonely road.  Did you think it would be all muffins, unicorns, rainbows and lollypops?  Might you have been expecting an accolade or two? Perhaps a polished trophy for your endeavors? 

There are none, no.  There is only the flickering presence of God on difficult roads through an unaccommodating forest of trouble.  This world is certainly of great trouble.  If one dares to read of the troubles politically, socially, economically it would be enough to drive one mad!  I've often taken that grim study and it isn't of particular joy.  But there is such a fascination with knowing the truth, don't you think?

The truth shall set you free!  And as the poster read on the wall of the Catholic retreat somewhere in the cow hills of Wisconsin: "The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable."  Such a grim prognostication, yet also so hopeful.

Much like our Christian walk, through an unforgiving world.  As Jesus said,"If you were of the world the world would love you as it's own.  But you are not of this world."  You are no longer of this world friend.  You are a citizen of heaven.  But I imagine the world didn't like you much even before the great transformation that changed your life forever.  

When you met Jesus, the King of Kings, the President of Presidents, the Lord God almighty, you encountered the truth!  The truth become a man!  God almighty himself, came to you!  And he changed you forever.  And yet...

Yet here we are, in the world.  But not of the world.  John R. W. Stott referred to it as being "between worlds." Destined for eternal life, a perfected state of existence, a future we can hardly imagine.  It's a beautiful future, a real future.  

It's not a pie in the sky, leave that to the marxist utopian types.  They pine for a utopia on Earth that at best would last them 107 years.  Then they're gone.  We will live forever you see.  What a shocking thing, how ground shaking!  No wonder it is so hated, such a despised message worldwide.  No wonder the nations turn from it, no wonder secularism abounds.  No wonder even in our own country they seek desperately, day and night, to strike God, Christianity from every sphere of life.  They do so viciously, rabidly, and they never stop.  What drives them so?  They are driven by hatred for a message that transcends them.  They're driven mad by moral accountability.  It's within their own heart you see.  It nudges them while they sleep, and the more they try to hide it, the more it comes out.  In the night, in the dark, the truth of who we are as humans taunts them, and the need for forgiveness.  

They cannot stand the fact that how they live matters.  They are in permanent revolt against the shared meanings of the past.  They've been at it a while now, to the point that it's now considered quite normal to be a raving immoral, uneducated, unborn baby killing, sexually liberated authoritarian dead set on self, self and self.  It's even considered the American way.  

But how long could it last, our Christian nation?  There is a war on after all.  It is a spiritual war.  It affects us everyday.  We read about it in the news.  We see it on the television.  And it drives us mad.  Because we have the answer, Jesus Christ, but they can't and won't accept that.  They willfully condemn themselves, make rebellion against God in how they live, but they refuse to face it.  

It is mass madness on a global scale friends.  The truth has become so darkened, so covered over, so removed, so stigmatized, so demonized that when I write these words one of the world reading them assumes that I am quite mad, that I am a backwards fundamentalist, entirely delusional, trying to force my backwards hokey myths on good and decent people.  To those who have been brainwashed into the current cultural ethos, we Christians appear quite nutty.  But the truth always appears like hate to those who hate the truth. 

We are the hold outs, the Maquis, the french resistance, we are the saved, redeemed, reborn living in the fall of man.  Can you fully appreciate that?  Has it sunken into the depths of your subconscious?  

This is the fall of man, and if you know Jesus, truly know him, you've found the escape route.  And so many refuse it.  They can't see it.  They are evil, and they seek to remake the world in their own image.  Their worldview drives them to try to create a worldview devoid of God, but the problem is that worldview is systemically contradictory.  It is without foundation.  It's like an unbalanced equation.  When they look at the world they can tell it's broken.  It triggers errors, paradoxes, and destructive behaviors.  Yet they must, must, must keep a divine foot from sneaking in the door. They stand on the foundation of Christianity in order to subvert it.  

And here we are in the midst of it all.  We're desperate for change.  Yet we know this world's fate is already written.  It is destined for nothingness, to be remade into a restored state.  

Those who so malign us everyday, those who bash us without end in the mainstream media, in academia, in the sciences, on the internet, well, they are destined to receive that which they so thoroughly desire: a world without God. 

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. -John 15:18-21 NIV

Remember that friends.  We are destined for a kingdom greater than this one.  As our enemies gain victories, as our foes multiply, as we feel estranged from the world, cast aside, when we feel lonely in our pursuit of God, remember that we are not of this world, yet we remain in this world.  As a result our primary imperative must be the salvation of lost souls.  And what a tiring, desperate, seemingly hopeless effort this seems to be at times.  Cold, burnt to a crisp, like the starfish on the seashore.  And your the boy tossing them one by one into the deep, and the world is the man accusing you of wasting your time.  Your time is not wasted friends.  You may be lonely now.  You may feel the weight of glory now, the weight of eternity, and the longings of a infinite world in your heart, but today what you do matters.  

We're touching on one of the many, many great paradoxes of life on Earth in it's current state.  The fall of man when originally triggered by the first humans had an effect of dividing a perfect reality by darkness (sin), multiplied by free will.  The outworking was a series of paradoxes, hundreds of them, thousands of them built into the framework of the fallen state.  The paradoxes are constant, and best described within the Bible itself: We are dead yet living.  We must humble ourselves to be exalted.  The meek shall inherit the Earth.  God made Him who committed no sin to be sin on our behalf.  God almighty became a man.  God died, to free man from death.  God resurrected to give man eternal life.  To be the greatest of all one must be the servant of all.  We carry this infinite treasure in clay pots.  In the world, but not of the world.  Enemies of God, now friends of God. One could increase the list endlessly.

This is the fall of man friends!  The deeds we do today, in service of our King will be remembered for eternity.  Our proclamations of the gospel have the power to light holy fire in the hearts of mankind.  We are called to carry the message that frees humanity from eternal chains that condemn untold millions to outer darkness, to disconnection from the God who wants to restore them, redeem them, and love them unlike any other!  So continue forward, just as I must, unto daybreak.  Carry the gospel, even when your heart aches.  Endure the elongated sorrows of this world, day in and day out, for we are destined for a greater reality, a greater world, a more perfect union.  We are destined for greatness.  The world hates you for it, but take heart Jesus Christ has overcome the world.

"Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,  because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
-2 Corinthians 4 (NIV) 


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