Fruitful Vision

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.

IMG_6748I 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. 

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Come to Me

cometomeJesus says, not said, Jesus says today, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Come to Me.

Jesus does not say, “Come to religion.”

Jesus does not say, “Come to spirituality.”

Jesus does not say, “Come to church.”

He does not say, Come to the divine one.”  Raising the question of who he thinks he is!

Come to Me.

He calls us to himself.  The pronoun is all-important:

Christianity began on Palestinian soil, as a relationship with a person.

It moved to Greek soil and became a philosophy.

It moved on to Rome and became an Institution.

It moved on to British soil and became a Culture.

It moved on to American soil and became an Enterprise!

But Christianity is essentially a Person.

Come to Me all who are weary and overburdened.  In the English language verbs function in two voices:  active and passive.  You may know that in the Greek language verbs function in three voices:  active, passive and what is called the middle.

Active – “I wash.”

Passive – “I am washed.”

Middle – “I wash myself.”

“All who are overburdened” is in the middle voice – “overburdened themselves.”  Thus, “Come to Me all who have overburdened themselves.”  For the most part, excessive weariness is our own doing.

“Come. . . and I will give you rest.”  Literally, I will rest you.  “I will give you rest” could lead us to think that “rest” can be experienced apart from Jesus, as though rest was a thing Jesus places in our hands which we then can carry off on our own.

“I will rest you,” suggests the personal involvement of the Rester.

Take my yoke upon you. . . and your souls, your inner being, will find rest.

Jesus is telling us that we are weary because we are wearing the wrong yokes.  Refreshment for the soul comes by “a transfer of yokes.”

The question is never, “Will I wear a yoke?”

Every person wears a yoke; there are no yokeless human beings.

The question is never, “Will I be a disciple?”  The question is always, “Whose disciple will I be?”

The question is never, “Will I be pressured by a spirit?”  The question is always, “Of all the spirits of the age that pressure me, to which will I yield?”

The question is never, “Will I wear a yoke?”  The question is always, “Whose yoke will I wear?”

Jesus tells us to come to Him, to enter into His rest because we have overburdened ourselves with the wrong yoke.  We all need His yoke, a yoke that is easy, a burden that is light.

“Come to Me” says Jesus.

 

With thanks to Darrell  Johnson in The Glory of Preaching, p.248-255

Grace is…

IMG_6194I have just discovered this gem of a series called ‘On the Cost and Grace of Parish Ministry’ by Jason Goroncy.  What follows is a snippet from the ninth part of the series on the subject of Sabbath.

Sabbath is a setting free, and this happens “through Jesus Christ who in his incarnation entered into the nothingness and dread of human depravity in order to bring creation into the saving rest of God.  The Bible’s word for this action is ‘grace’.

Grace is never a soft thing.

Grace is a man groaning on a cross, dying on a bitter tree, not only for his friends but also for those who would wish him and his Father dead.

Grace is God redeeming in Holy love.

Grace is God in his eucatastrophic action in the face of Nature’s catastrophe.

Grace is God taking seriously the scandalous nature of sin’s offence, and himself going down into the experience of nothingness and dread, into hell, into death, into the furnace of His own wrath, into the radical depths of its wound, in order to save.

There can be no higher gift.

This grace alone, the grace of the initiating Father, lived in the obedient Son, and made alive through the Spirit, carries humanity home and brings creation into the Sabbath rest of God.  Only then can Paul sing, ‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 8:38-39).

Now the ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ calls us into his rest in order that we might join him in doing the things that He is doing ‘on the Sabbath’ every day of the week.  There can be no place here for that Sabbatarianism that consecrates one day out of all the others, In Christ, every day is about Sabbath rest, renewal and healing, that our entire ministry may be performed under the grace-aegis of God.  To keep the Sabbath is never about conformity to rules and regulations (Col 2:22), but is about conformity to Christ who is Lord of the Sabbath.”

And this is truly a grace.  God is good.