Paul claims he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19).
Not to be disobedient is to be deliberately obedient; intentionally faithful; God-wardly focused. Paul clearly could have been disobedient, and that’s the point. Other things could have crowded in, worthwhile things, ministry and Gospel things even, but he had to be obedient to (not his) but the heavenly vision, a heavenly vision given by Heaven’s King.
I don’t read much Oswald Chambers, but a generous lady at church gave me his complete works – nice.
I randomly opened a page and read this:
“If we lose the vision, we alone are responsible, and the way we lose the vision is spiritual leakage…”
He continues along these lines and then writes,
“Though it tarry, wait for it….We get so practical that we forget the vision. At the beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it; we rushed off into practical work, and when the vision was fulfilled, we did not see it. Waiting for the vision that tarries is the test of our loyalty to God. It is at the peril of our soul’s welfare that we get caught up in practical work and miss the fulfilment of the vision.”
An objection might be raised here about the necessity of doing “practical work,” but without careful, biblical infused thought, the point would be missed. God’s vision is not anti-practical work per se, but He is against us when we lack the spiritual fortitude of being in Christ and enjoying salvation’s benefits and goals by attending to matters that we find “practical”, Forsyth’s “the sin of bustle.” This is a heretical bastardisation of the Christian faith, and a chief enemy of the believer.
If you think I’ve over-cooked the argument, check out the average church in the UK – we don’t really have a clue what Jesus means when he invites us to ‘come to him and rest.’ We think it is about us and our rest, when it is about Christ and His rest – and there’s a world of difference. Do we desire our rest more than we desire Christ who gives it? Scripture affirms this again and again, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength….” And this is visionary waiting, active, intentional, alert, deliberate.
There is a lot less ‘working out our salvation with fear and trembling’ and a lot more substitutionary religious bustle, a lot more expectation of others than ourselves, and even a lot of our expectations are not determined by Gospel criteria, but economically driven functionality. We have a fiscal-faith of the bottom line because waiting on God is a waste of time; even the classic evangelical quiet time can become a nonsense – doing it as a means to an end rather than a paradigm of the End – which is Christ. And sometimes, the means is about ourselves feeling better about the end, which is our lives. Isn’t that pagan Christianity?
“Watch God’s cyclones. The only way God sows His saints is by His whirlwind. Are you going to prove an empty pod? It will depend on whether or not you are actually living in the light of what you have seen. Let God fling you out, and do not go until He does. If you select your own spot (bustle?), you will prove an empty pod (pagan Christianity). If God sows you, you will bring forth fruit (biblical Christianity).” Comments in brackets mine.
We mustn’t try to force God’s hand. He will not yield to us. Not one bit. But we must yield to Him. We must sell everything we have to attain the pearl of great price. We must follow Jesus, and let the rest take care of itself. Our vision must be rooted in Christ, until Christlikeness is rooted in us and grows; so that the fruit that comes forth is divine, heavenly, Christ-filled fruit of the Kingdom of God.
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