"No Steeple, Just People"

Livingwalk.com - June 25, 2005

&ldots;clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

When I reluctantly embarked on Livingwalk.com I promised myself before God that I would never merely write anything for the sake of posting something on a regular basis. I have come to believe that the only truly helpful things we can share as disciples of Jesus Christ spill vicariously out of our daily walk and life in Him. As limited vessels of an infinite and boundless God, how could it not be that His free-flowing life and love and light pour out of us into the lives of others?

Theory and abstraction have no place in this living breathing testimony, nor does merely echoing what others are saying when we really haven’t grabbed hold of it at the spirit level ourselves. It’s just too easy isn’t? Perhaps this is why so many do it, online and in churches every Sunday morning.

Yet, my friends, slinging proof texts or web links at you to prove a point that the Spirit hasn’t actually fleshed out in my life serves no one, and can in fact be dangerous. I recognize this and am deeply sorry for the extent to which it may sometimes occur.

What I like and respect about the Apostle Paul is that practically everything he wrote and shared was embodied in his own personal testimony and example. He could encourage these young believers to abandon themselves to Christ wholly and completely because he had done so himself. He could exhort them to share their lives deeply and sincerely with one another in love, just as he was doing. Never does he ask them to cross a bridge of faith that he had not crossed himself many times. Never does he expect them to grasp a teaching that he himself had merely conceptualized.

What the written testament does not contain - but something we can deduce - is the many solitary hours, days, weeks, months and years that Paul spent alone with our Lord, learning at the Master’s feet, walking and living in the Spirit quite apart from the ideas of men and the world. From milk to meat, he had matured to the point of being able to really share the Lord with others, to preach Christ as He truly was without speculation.

Sincerity and transparency marked all of his ministry and writings, and how can I or anyone aspire to anything less? His very life and example represented a living epistle perhaps far more compelling than anything He wrote about matters of doctrine or church practice. Yet because He was living it, oftentimes at great risk and damage to his person, he could faithfully share it. And even today we are immensely blessed to have his living testimony laid open and available to us.

In all sincerity before you here, I believe the Lord is shaking a lot out of me lately, as to be perfectly honest, I feel just about as unworthy of sharing anything to anyone as ever in my life. There are fundamental issues of stewardship and my deeply-engrained attachment to what the Bible calls this world, that are causing me to re-consider my entire life, and all that it represents. This does not make for a very happy camper - you know the kind we are expected to represent as “perfect Christians”?

The more perfectly the Holy Spirit reveals this phenomenal Being called Jesus Christ to us, the more we are stripped down and exposed - increasingly reduced and naked in our own eyes. The more wretched and hopeless we become, as we gain an ever-clearer glimpse of the transcendent Wonder and Glory of the Lamb of God. Joy and even peace tends to elude us as we come to grips with what we really are deep down in relation to Him. He must first tear us down that He might build us up again in Himself.

The Cross of Christ stands ever before us, performing this reconstructive work, and it is painful and hard just as any death is. Yet on the other side of that cross is the joyful promise of eternal fellowship with our Heavenly and Holy Father.

(Why has the church seemed to have forgotten that the bright side of Calvary is only made possible by the dark side?)

Consider Job coming into intimate contact with the precarnate Christ, after many deep yet abstract conversations with his friends about God&ldots;

       Then Job answered the LORD and said: 
       "I know that You can do everything, 
       And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 
       You asked, "Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' 
       Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, 
       Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 
       Listen, please, and let me speak; 
       You said, "I will question you, and you shall answer Me.' 
       "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, 
       But now my eye sees You. 
       Therefore I abhor myself, 
       And repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:1-6)

Yet I am to blame, for like many of you I have prayed those superlative prayers in a rush of expectant zeal. You know, like when we ask Him to show us ourselves and the world as He sees it, as we really are. He does seem to answer those prayers doesn’t He – and often for the next little while we are not the happiest campers, not very smiley-faced or pleasant to have around. That sharp two edged sword is cutting deeper, past the flesh and bone to where idols reign proudly on a stolen throne.

I am afraid it has to be this way, my friends, and I am sorry if this is not what is presented to you as the normal Christian experience. This world is not our home you see, and the gods of the people all around us are not our god. Here where men and devils are increasingly finding new and perverted ways to exalt men and creation in the place of the Creator, how can we ever truly be settled and at home?

“You’re quite alright”, says that liar of old, with all of his clip-winged minions nodding&ldots; “look, you have a good job, a nice home, peace on all sides, a quaint little religious website, men respect you&ldots;what more could you ask for?”

Get behind me Satan&ldots; for what I really want is to grab my Heavenly Father around the neck and to be finally restored to Him forever. I want to eat from that Tree of Life that represents His ultimate love and hope for me. If this takes pain and the loss of everything else in this tangled garden, so be it. Oh but Father, please hold me up, for I am by no means strong enough to live up to this bold commitment.

Dear Father&ldots;

Why do we Christians always want to do something for you rather than simply allow you to restore us in your Beloved Son? Oh, that His life would fill us, and pour out of us in the encouragement and edification of others who share this awesome and wonderful journey back home to You. I thank you, Father, for all opportunities to share Him and His life with others, yet I pray that we will learn from the example of your son Paul&ldots; that the life is only in the living, and the sharing must flow out from this living walk with You. Thank you, Father, for the True Vine, and our attachment to Him from which all life and fruitfulness flows. May this life be multiplied in your children, and may the light reflecting in each of us combine to enlighten this dark and forsaken garden!

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Please pray for us here at Living-Walk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do.

Your friend in Christ Jesus,


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