Mar 082020


  President Abraham Lincoln had a disarming and engaging ability to laugh at himself, especially his own physical appearance. When Senator Stephan A. Douglas once called him a “two-faced man”, Lincoln responded, “I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?” Another time he told a group of editors about meeting a woman riding on horseback in the wood. She “looked at me intently, and said, ‘I do believe you are the ugliest man I ever saw’. Said I, ‘Madam, you are probably right, but I can’t help it’. ‘No’, she said, ‘you can’t help it, but you could stay at home!’” Potentially we Christians can be two-faced. We can at times show our spiritual image in Christ, or Carnal image in the flesh! More often than not, we let our ugly natural, fleshly, and carnal identity have full expression. The answer is not to stay at home and hide our ugliness. Instead it is a better option to yield ourselves to God, in Jesus Christ, and let His Holy Spirit energize our transformation and supernaturally show our best side. C.S. Lewis said it best, he wrote, “The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become’…the alternative is a real disaster. The more I resist Him and try to live in my own strength, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact, what I so proudly call ‘myself’ becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and cannot stop!” That is the greatest danger we as Christians face! Letting our lives become merely “the meeting place for trains of events we never started and cannot stop!”. E.E. Cummings, in his unique poetic way expressed the struggle that everyone has in preventing the world from defining us. He wrote,

“To be nobody but yourself

in a world which is doing

its best night and day

to make you everybody else-

means to fight the hardest battle

which any human being can fight-

and never stop fighting.”

The truth is the hardest battle the Christian will fight, and must never stop fighting is to resist letting the world squeeze us into its mold. Another danger is to let our carnal self have full reign and rob us of experiencing the transforming work of the indwelling Spirit of Christ’s power to make us the Spiritual person God designed us to be in the first place. That is what C.S. Lewis was referring to. We are actually in danger of living all the days of our Christian life and missing out on that very thing! John Henry Newman said, “Fear not that your life shall come to an end, but fear rather it shall never have a beginning”. Oliver Wendall Holmes said, “the ultimate tragedy is that many people go to their graves with their music still in them”. That should be our fear…that our Spiritual life shall never have a beginning…that we die with the Spirit-filled melody intended for us still be unexpressed. Jesus intends for us to get out of our boats, follow Him, and by His power find ourselves like Peter-“walking on water”…doing what is physically impossible because He bids us come! He said that those who follow Him will do even greater things, by the power of the Spirit. That is how we will show the world the reality of following Christ…of demonstrating His power and nature. Karl Barth, one of the greatest theologians and Christian thinkers of all time, said, “the Word became flesh-and then through theologians it became words again”. To him the greatest challenge of the Christian community was to incarnate Him in flesh again. How do we do that? By yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit in our lives moment by moment. Paul Brandt explained it this way, “He is asking us to be the chief bearers of His likeness in the world. As spirit He remains invisible on this planet. He relies upon us to give flesh to that spirit, to bear the very image of God”.

When the natural Christian teams up with the Supernatural Spirit of God something Theanthropic happens! That is, it becomes a Divine-human synergy. The product always exceeds anything we can anticipate or imagine. Even in the physical realm we can be fascinated by emerging results from some combinations. In his book on Synergy Physicist Buckmaster Fuller goes to geometric gymnastics to prove that two triangles, when combined geometrically, the result is unusual. He writes, “By conventional arithmetic, one triangle plus one triangle equals two triangles. But in association as left helix and right helix, they form a six-edged tetra-hedron of four triangular faces…when seen as negative and positive helixes they complement each other…and our two triangles now add up as one plus one equals four!”. He lost me somewhere in the explanation. But he does demonstrate that there are times when additions are made, and things are combined, that the product far exceeds the normally understood realm. He then illustrates it in another way easier to understand. He says synergy-the combining of elements-explain how metals increase strength. All alloys are synergetic. Chrome-nickel-steel combined to make extra-ordinary strength. This alloy combination produced a high cohesive strength and structural ability to withstand the temperatures necessary for the jet engine. Engineers invented jet expulsion from watching squids. By developing explosions to cause similar expulsion to jet a plane into the air required temperatures that would destroy normal metals like steel. But by combining Chrome-nickel-steel together it became possible to do the impossible! That is a poor illustration from the natural realm of what can be true in the supernatural realm. When God combines our human nature with His divine nature, the combination exceeds one plus one. It is a physical-Spiritual alloy that jettisons us beyond the natural and helps us excel to be transformed into the image of Christ! That helps us become more than ourselves-more than just a meeting place of trains of events we never began nor neither can we stop. We can, by that alloy “give flesh to that Spirit, and bear the image of God, in the person of His Son”, and our Savior Jesus Christ, to a world that desperately needs to see Him real in us! That makes us “Holy, Wholly, Holy!” That is what today’s message is about. Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, expressed the adventure of this Spirit-filled life in this way, “The word ‘Christian’ means different things to different people. To one person it means a stiff, upright, inflexible way of life, color-less and unbending. To another it means a risky, surprise-filled venture, lived tiptoe at the edge of expectation…if we get our information from the Biblical material, there is no doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring life.” (Traveling Light)

 Posted by at 6:16 pm

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