Dear Co-worker in Christ,
May you this day cleave to the heart of our Lord Jesus and vividly reflect his glory to those in your world. John Lynn here, and it is a joy to have this opportunity to share some of the Word and my heart with you, as we live yet another day behind enemy lines.
As the darkness of this fallen world surrounds us, the good news is that the darker it is, the more brightly a light can shine. And I assert that you have more potential “candle power” than 99% of the Christians who have lived since Pentecost, when the Church began. Of course I’m not referring to the gift of holy spirit, because each and every person who makes Jesus his Lord receives from him the same limitless amount of that dunamis (“Holy dynamite, Batman!). Thus each of us has the potential to distinguish himself among men by shining like Moses did when he came down off Mt. Sinai and people thought he had been to Chernobyl—he was GLOWING!
However, 2 Corinthians 3:7ff tells us three times that the glory upon Moses eventually faded away. In verses 17 and 18 that is starkly contrasted to the “ever increasing” gloryof the Lord that you and I can reflect as we face Jesus Christ with an honest heart. Then Chapter 4:1-5 says that in order to do so, and “set forth the truth plainly” to others, we must recognize and consciously renounce “secret and shameful ways,” as well as all deception, for those are the “veils” that keep us from true intimacy (“into me see”) with our Lord, and others. Only by “getting naked” before the Lord will we be able to preach him, and not ourselves. Then come the next two fabulous verses, as follows:
2 Corinthians 4:6 and 7
(6) 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 the glory of God in the face of Christ.
(7) But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
Most who read this letter were, like I, once upon a time in the right place at the right time, and the Word of God was opened up to us. In those priceless kairos moments of your life, you were handed a treasure of truth greater than what most believers have ever known. That treasure was, and is, the knowledge of God’s wonderful Word, something Jesus indispensably held close to his heart as the “It is written” basis of his life. The “…knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” includes such indispensable truths as who is Jesus Christ, what is the Sacred Secret, what is the Christian’s true hope, what is the gift (and manifestations) of holy spirit, the reciprocal relationship between God and you, that He is not responsible for evil or suffering, and much more. In order to walk most effectually with the Lord and manifest his love and power, we must remain grounded in such foundational truths.
BUT, as I stated in my January 28 letter, knowing the truth is not enough. In fact, I once thought that because I knew so much of the Word, I was a cut above other Christians, and that cost me in my ability to intimately relate to them. Each of us must cultivate a burning desire to become like Jesus at all costs. Those costs include our pride, selfishness, narcissism, and our need to control others and be first. Good riddance. If we honestly pray as David did in the following verses, the results will be painful, but gainful.
Psalm 139:23 and 24 (ASV)
(23) Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts [anxious distractions];
(24) And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
Part of the suffering that we as Christians are called to endure is the pain of recognizing and repenting of our sins, which we must do if we are to become like Christ. Given Romans 7:14-25, 1 John 1:5-2:6, et al, those of us who want to crucify (that hurts, by the way) every aspect of our sin nature must “walk circumspectly,” that is, looking around in order to spot the slightest nuances of how our sinful nature is hurting us, and thus those we love when we succumb to it and then hurt them. We absolutely must maintain a healthy regard for the “sin that dwells in us” (Rom. 7:17) so that we do not deceive ourselves. As Paul vividly exemplified, staying closely in touch with our human weaknesses will drive us into the strength of our Lord Jesus (Rom. 8; 2 Cor. 12:7-10, etc.).
Of course we also suffer when we live truthfully and righteously, because there are many who do not want to live that way (even including some of our brethren in the Lord), and who will oppose us. Most unbelievers are just suffering souls flailing their way through life, but some people are just plain wicked and committed to evil. Keep in mind both aspects of our suffering as you consider the following verses:
1 Peter 2:20b and 21
(20) …But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
(21) To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
The Greek word translated “example” is hupogrammos, and literally means “writing under.” Today we might think of tracing paper, a translucent sheet that we lay over another piece of paper that has something drawn in bold ink. We then trace those strokes on our paper as closely as we can. Clearly, JESUS is the bold type, and our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to trace his steps. The more transparent (honest, open, vulnerable) we are, the more he can shine through us. In today’s culture, we could also think of Jesus as our “underwriter,” an insurer who covers liabilities. Synonyms include sponsor, backer, supporter, guarantor, financier, or bankroller. By giving his life for us, Jesus became, and is moment by moment, all those things for each of us. Amen!
Given that the Lord is called a “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3), it stands to reason that we too will have to go through fire as we follow him. The closer we walk with him, the more we will manifest his heart to those around us, and people will take notice, some positively and some negatively.
1 Peter 3:15 and 16
(15) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
(16) keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Yep, there are those pesky people again. You just can’t get away from them, unless you choose to be a hermit for Jesus. Even monks have other monks bugging them. Think for a moment about the concentric circles of people in your life. If you have a spouse, you constantly have a mirror in front of you. As someone once said, “Marriage is your last, best chance to grow up.” Then you have your children, your extended family members, those in your Christian church or fellowship, your co-workers, your bowling team, your mailman, and of course your close friends on ESPN or The Food Network. Now think about how deeply you actually know each of these people, and how well they know you. When I think about that, I am grieved, and moved to press toward greater intimacy with those in my life.
What we want among those involved with The Living Truth Fellowship, with our leadership core setting the example, is genuine friendship, and that is neither nepotism nor a mutual admiration society in which egotistical people stroke one another into emotional and spiritual oblivion. We want our Trustees, our Elders, our Staff, and our supporters to be true friends, which means that we must be authentic (REAL) with one another. Last week we had our first Trustee meeting via conference call, and the godly synergy among us was both stimulating and refreshing.
True love means caring enough to press in with a brother or sister we see behaving in a “non-Wordly” way. And if we are on the receiving end of the correction, we want to make the following verse our mindset. If you’re up for a major challenge, here it is:
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.
Three verses in Proverbs 27 are also most relevant: verse 6: Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses; verse 9: Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel; verse 17: As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Let’s say you are driving to Lake Tahoe for a two-week vacation with some good friends, who are following you in their car. Obviously, you are eager to get to Lake Tahoe, so wouldn’t you be really glad if the person driving behind you sees you starting to take the wrong exit and beeps his horn at you? How would you feel toward him if he just let you take the wrong exit, and a week later called you in Bugtussle, Nevada to tell you how beautiful Tahoe is? Which of the two above actions would make you feel more loved?
There are countless wrong exits on the road of life, and we each take them regularly. As a friend of mine likes to say, “Another opportunity to be wrong, and I took it.” So why don’t we just realize that each of us is beset with a deceitful sin nature and let that drive us deep into the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ, where we will find safety and healing wholeness. As he helps us take the logs out of our own eyes, we will be better able to help our brothers and sisters with the specks in theirs. The more we allow the Lord to care for us, the more we are free to reach out to others, and that is what true Christianity is all about. We must decrease, so that the Lord can increase in our lives (John 3:30) and energize our ministries in the Body. To that end, I think this rendering of the following verses is CLASSIC.
1 Peter 4:1 and 2 (The Message)
Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way [why does driving come to my mind at this point?]. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.
Isn’t that priceless?! Now all we have to do is do it, moment by moment. And, with the Lord’s help, we can. Just Truth it!