The problem with settling, is that it can be at odds with God’s agenda. There are times when His spirit stands still, but such seasons of settlement are never an end. The Kingdom is always advancing.
Most who achieve great things in life, do not pursue success. Their goals are narrow and they serve the goal not the other way around. They put their backs into it over a long period, until their inputs derive a greater outcome.
Paul said, “I sowed, another watered but God added the increase” (1 Corinthians 6). He was an “inputs” man, who concerned himself with doing the right things and doing things right, whilst entrusting God to translate that into something significant.
An unbalanced perspective of the Godhead, leads to hues and shades of God that detract from His glory and rob us of power. Just as white light results from the full mix of the visible spectrum, so the truth of God is reflected in the balance of the three sources of divine light: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I grew up in an orthodox context. It gave me good foundations but never brought me to a personal knowledge of Christ. My wife had an evangelical background, which was full of sound doctrine but otherwise staid. I guess it was a miracle that I came to know Jesus at all.
I was in the army, when a fellow soldier told me I also needed the Holy Spirit. After a few weeks of seeking God, I was mightily filled with the Spirit: an experience that set me on fire for God. That transformed me from an orthodox pew-warmer to a passionate believer, leaving me with the view that the power of the Holy Spirit is best revealed in a personal conviction of Christ.
One of the best examples of these points is seen in the way the Father defers to the Son in Hebrews 1, saying, “Thy throne Oh God, is forever and ever”. Such words were never uttered to or about angels, because they were reserved for the Son. They are an expression of adoration and praise from the Father to the Son.
If the Godhead is a model of leadership, and for me church authority pertains to leadership, not leaders per se, then we are faced with a contradiction. The head pastor of that divine leadership above, in honoring the Son, effectively shows that His role as the Father is not a level or hierarchy, but a role amongst roles. Jesus reciprocated by saying that He could do nothing without the Father ... and evidently the Father has the same regard for the Son. The same principles apply to the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus met the woman at the well, He introduced some remarkable truths. Rather typically, our regal king used few words to convey volumes of meaning across many dimensions: He specifically addressed the needs of the woman, but that overflowed to the needs of her community. Beyond that He spoke to Jews and Samarians and ultimately also addressed the church that would follow in His footsteps.
Sometimes I ponder how gainsayers fuel their doubts, for even if I had nothing else I would still be compelled to believe Him: His words are just so profound. Through great economy of language, He managed to reach the poor, the rich, the simple and wise, the Jew and the Gentile.
I am told that Voltaire once referred to the Apostle Paul as an “ugly little Jew”. How he even drew his conclusions so many centuries after the great man lived and died, is a bit of a mystery. That said, appearances never defined great men. Rather Paul referred to the sweet fragrance of Christ in His life, the powerful essence that endows the faithful with a regal air. Paul added, that the same fragrance, whilst alluring to many, remained a deep offence to others.
Now Paul also alluded to one of the key factors for that sweet fragrance. In Ephesians 4 he makes the point that, despite many differences in administration there is still one Lord, one Faith, On Baptism, One God and Father over us all.
New Testament writers had a wonderful way of using few words to speak great volumes. I am not sure they would have been too popular with today's book publishers or other media channels, because single paragraph books really don't spin the tills.
It has taken me half a lifetime to get a basic grasp of what Paul taught, because he refused to elaborate. He would sometimes reduce significant truth to a paragraph, but Jesus was even more elegant.
It was Jesus who simply stated, "if you will not eat my flesh or drink my blood, you will have no part of me". If I blogged anything like that you would cast a few bricks my way, banish me to Siberia and then delete my URL. Yet He offered no clarification, not even when a substantial part of His support base walked away.
Some time ago I was in the Louvre museum, enjoying a Renaissance section of the museum, when my eye caught a very offensive gesture in a crucifixion scene. Off to one side, a bystander in the crowd had raised his hand to flex a rude hand signal to the dying Christ. I have tried searching for the painting in question, to no avail, but it is out there somewhere.
I think it was on the same trip where I saw a Muslim in Hyde Park, wipe his backside on the bible. The act may have been symbolic, but the gesture carried a full weight of meaning.
There was a time when such offences were frowned on by society in general. Nowadays, if anyone dared say a word out of place about Mohammed they would be in quick and serious trouble. Indeed, so sensitive has the world become to the Muslim cause, that US authorities have approved a mosque within sight of ground zero. I don't want to debate that, but I am concerned by the way that everyone is so desperate to appease Islam, whilst having no concern about blasphemous use of the name of Jesus in movies or the offensive portrayal of our Saviour in gay or lewd contexts.
Now, whilst in essence I agree with his challenge and indeed as a family we have significantly simplified our lives of late, I still have some dilemmas, most notably that it is just too easy for outsiders to oversimplify the realities of others.
How do I tell my wife and children that we should find ways to simplify our prevailing challenges, without provoking a cynical response? How do I tell them it will all be okay, whilst in reality it is anything but? How does my friend reconcile mounting debts against a non-existent income? Or how does my missionary friend, who lives in a completely off-the-beaten track village in Zambia, rationalise his trust in God whilst his resources are being consumed by the disease that is threatening the life of his child? I could go on, suffice to say that for those in crisis, life is rarely simple.
Our fathers have a great penchant for saying, “Later”. The cat’s in the cradle song put it well, saying, “We’ll get together then and we’ll have a good time then”. For so many of us, a father’s word is somewhat flexible, offering well-meaning promises with no guarantee of fulfillment. This is not a go at Dads – I am one and I know how imperfect I am. Its more about contrasting the consistency of God.
Hebrews 12:4 confirms that our fathers discipline us from time to time according to their whim or at their own pleasure, but God chastens us for our good so we can share in His glory. What that means is that God is not capricious, but I will go further in suggesting that God does not even dispense favors. He is not a heavenly butler or vending machine, He is God.