The pendulum is swinging
Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall
To see God is one of my dreams, not just when I die, but
while I'm here.
Pure in heart? That sounds simple enough. It must mean that
we should be pure in the things we do. But then again, our actions are preceded
by our thoughts so maybe we should focus on purity in the way we think... Or it
could be even deeper, maybe we need to concentrate on the purity of our very
motives... Goodness -– is it even remotely possible to get close to God?
Depending on who you talk to, or the latest book you're
reading, even the simplest of truths can become complicated. "Do this and God
will be happy with you...do that and He'll be angry with you...try this...why
did you do that?"
If you really want to please God -– but 'can't', how
sad and discouraging! Or is that we take far too much notice of those around us
-– and cannot get past them to catch a glimpse of what God would like to say?
One down side to the human state is that we are not omniscient. We do not have
perfect foreknowledge, knowledge, wisdom and understanding. But then again
-– neither does anyone else! The history of mankind is proof of this...wonderful
truths, truths taken to extreme, countermeasures, pendulums swinging around all
over the place and hey presto: a bunch of confused people.
I was thrilled one day to realise that right through the New
Testament, God dealt with different people in lots of different ways. Nothing
has changed and we can confidently say that God is speaking in all sorts of ways
today, to all sorts of people. Mary's words in John 2:5 spring to mind "Whatever
He says 'to you' do it"! I listen to many messages and then ask myself
a simple question -– is God speaking 'to me'? I have a theory that most of
us are well aware of where we stand with God...if we dare to be honest.
In New Zealand this week a public figure passed away. His
name was Peter Sinclair, a media personality who has been around for as long as
I can remember. Over the past thirteen weeks, his column 'Sinclair on Life'
has provided an eloquent, affectionate, wry tour of deaths waiting room... Far
too young to die, his writings appear to me to be balanced and positive. One
thing is very evident however, that in his discourse about life he knew
nothing about the purpose of it all. I quote "I am writing this on a day
filled with sun showers; a day so achingly beautiful it makes you wish there was
someone to turn to and thank...Who was it who said, the two saddest words in the
English language are 'too late'..."
How sad to be plagued with regret, yet it is never too late
to start walking with God -– and enjoying the benefits of such a special
relationship. We are exhorted to 'take up our cross daily to follow Him'.
What does this mean? More importantly 'What does this mean to you'? In Mark 10:17-22,
the story of the rich young ruler is most interesting and begs the
question: Should everybody with a healthy disposable income 'give it away...and
then continue to reduce their asset base to nothing in order to give more?' Some
denominations teach this, and the faithful are only too happy to oblige as they
proceed to give away their goods. Obviously the motivations are great, but is
this what God desires of you (or me)? It is imperative that we hear His voice.
Lots of 'issues' exist within our finite world of
understanding. In John 2:1-11 Jesus performs His first miracle and what a shocker!
Spiritually, it's a real paradox, and even the best arguments to 'cover'
for the mistake appear inadequate in the light of what He blatantly did.
Jesus did a very non Christian thing turning water into wine -– but He did it
none the less. Denominationally, we have a hung jury...pendulum status.
A good friend of mine is very concerned about 'corruption'
within our contemporary church systems. He has some very good things to say -–
and does not hesitate to say them. He is a self-professed biblical 'watchman'
and sets about to sound the alarm and "show God's people the errors of their
ways". His view is that entertainment, celebration and prosperity are largely
'not of God'. "We should be setting ourselves up for suffering not
celebration...". He said to me recently, "Andrew, is your father (Barry)
still leading people to Christ and then leaving them in Christless churches to
be ravaged and lead into deception -– we were told to make disciples not
decisions". I explained (once again) that my father continues to preach and
lead people to Christ, which is what he believes he was instructed to do...and I
can testify to the fact that there are lots of folk who are living for Jesus
today as a result of his obedience... Good on you Dad! I continued, "My
understanding is that God has decided to achieve His work through 'a body'
of believers...and not just one or two super Christians who get it all right!"
We try so hard to be good Christians, almost turning
ourselves inside out to be better than we are. I must gain more knowledge of
the Word, spend more time in prayer, do more good deeds, take every opportunity
to speak at church and, hopefully I'll feel better after that - fueled on
by the ever present gaze of Christian peers. Busy within Christianity, busy
within life...yet for many -– life remains a lonely place! After a few years of
that sort of cycle, one is either ready to be committed or to backslide. All of
the activity in the world cannot replace the simple human need of 'PURPOSE'.
Within God's purpose for our lives we find a future!
Our best bet (there's an issue we haven't discussed) is
to go back to the simplest of truths. Christianity is a lifestyle -– a
way of living. Our example is Jesus who challenges us to the very depths of our
hearts... I'm sure we all agree that Jesus thinks and acts quite differently
to us. Thankfully, he speaks to us -– and Mary's words ring very true today
"Whatever He says to you -– do it". As a consequence of following
Jesus, our hearts are cleansed, and He ushers us into the presence of our