I was thinking of a camping trip my wife and I took last summer. We went down to Tennessee to do some hiking on the Appalachian Trail. And we stayed in a campground way up on the side of a mountain. We pitched our tent right inside the edge of the woods.
That first night, a huge storm came crashing over the mountain and down into our campsite. We could hear the thunder and see the lightning for about 1/2 an hour before it hit. We wondered if our tent would be blown away in the massive gale. But for a while, we sat there enjoying that incredible wind rushing down through our tent. And listening to the trees around us creaking, groaning and crashing. It was awesome!
The Mystery of the Spirit
Also, a few days ago, we had a lot of heavy winds come through our area. Very cold, heavy winds. That evening, I stood for quite a while looking out the back window at the clouds that were racing across the sky and the tall trees that were bending down like palm trees in a hurricane.
The moon was pretty full that night and it lit up the clouds and sky when there was a break in the cloud cover. It was pretty impressive. It reminded me of one of those old movies like Wuthering Heights. The old black and white version with Lawrence Olivier. Very wild and moody.
While I was standing there, I was thinking about this verse in the Gospel of John. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
I wondered what it meant when it compared the Christian to the wind. There may be a lot of answers to that. But I was thinking about “mystery”.
Because this Christian life is an amazing mystery. Which we barely understand. How this life is really about faith and not the concrete, clinical coldness that the world lives by.
Trying to Mix Oil and Water
When I see the changing appearance of churches, hear the sermons, listen to the music, and observe the way the general work of the church is looking more and more like the corporate world, it troubles me. I feel like something is dying. As if a bunch of Christian business guys all got together and decided that a new utilitarian, pragmatic approach to Christianity is the best way.
William Wordsworth, a poet from two centuries past, said, “The world is too much with us.” I don’t know what he believed. But in a very earthy way, he nailed the problem. That we are all too easily conformed to the philosophies and elements of this world. That we are losing our passion for truth. Check the link to his poem below. It is strangely relevant.
I believe this is also happening with our joy and hope as Christians.
We are not widgets. Our Christian lives do not progress like a product in a factory or cubicle barn. We do not grow in Christ by applying the best of the world’s methods and strategies to our lives.
Take, as an example, Christian Psychology. As Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. said, “Christian Psychology is like Grape Nuts cereal. It is neither grapes nor nuts.” Just another attempt to mix oil and water. An impossible mix.
I wonder sometimes if the seminaries and Christian schools may be misguiding our young leaders. Training them to be administrators and managers instead of shepherds and fishers of men. Making them practical marketers, psychologists, business men and life coaches.
I understand the need for additional training in administration, in taxes, accounting, and similar things. That can only help. But those things are only tools. They should not drive the spiritual life of the church. It should be the Word of God and the love of Christ that leads us.
The fusion of the spiritual and the flesh is not possible. We do not work the works of God by natural means. It is by the Spirit of God, the Person of God within us, that we produce spiritual and eternal fruit.
Seeing Wonders through a Child’s Eyes
Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10: 14,15) I think that verse is speaking about faith. True faith does not take great intellect. It does not even require an education. But it does require believing the straight-forward statements of God. Believing that God said what he meant to say.
Faith is about believing things that seem impossible to the world.
I love it when a moment occurs that reminds me of my childhood. Or the first time that I experienced something. To remember the innocence and purity of a first encounter. Long before someone would come along and “dissect” it for me. Leading me to turn away from something I originally thought was very beautiful and fascinating.
The world does that to us. It tells us that God didn’t create the world in 6 days. That Noah is a myth. That the 5,000 Jesus fed weren’t really fed by a miracle of creation, but by being shamed into pulling out the brown-bag lunches they were concealing under their robes. Or that Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead. Just His spirit. Just the idea of Him.
This is why I like to read about Bigfoot. Yeah, you may think I’m nuts. Or seriously gullible. That’s OK. I find it fascinating. That there are still mysteries out there yet to be explored!
The Limitations of Knowledge
We pretend that we know a lot. But we really don’t. We are all just getting by. We generally know enough to do that.To get a few things done and, maybe, to be reasonably comfortable.
Science and philosophy rule this world. The young intellectuals are tripping over themselves trying to show how solidly educated they are. As if all this life is explained by the accumulation of data. By accepting, as truth, whatever is popularly taught as science.
But this thing called “science” is an illusion. It is an amazing house of cards built on some very clever “convenient fictions” that allow us to make some practical stuff. And to give us the fantasy that our intellects can grasp all that we ever need to know about life, our own souls, about God and eternal life.
It can’t. Because this universe is too vast. Because God is so far above us that all we can reasonably do is bow down in reverence and thankfulness to the living God.
Flee From Mediocrity
We must not settle for the mediocrity of life that the world would force upon us. To accept that all the questions have been answered. All the facts are in. All the data has been processed and collated. All the theories correct.
Nor to settle for the balanced, mediocrity of contemporary Christian religion. Where all is practical, manageable and predictable. Where we get a new version of the Bible every year or so and one more guy steps up to tell us how we are going to re-do everything. Once again.
We have a “living God”. And we have a “lively hope”. And we have no stinking idea how wondrous our God really is. How much He loves us. How much He has prepared for us.
We do not close our minds when we become Christians. We have the liberty to consider all things and to allow the Lord, by His Spirit, to reveal to us what is true.
So that He may open our eyes to behold how He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think according to His power that worketh in us!