Thursday, November 5, 2009
There is a desire within everyone of us to live life to the fullest. The major impediment most of us face in accomplishing our goal is this nagging feeling of being found wanting. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews asserts that every believer is perfected in Christ (10:14). We can easily accept that by faith when it comes to our spirits. However, more often than not, we think that this doesn't apply to our soul and bodies. Our emotions fluctuate. We have good days and we have bad days. There are days when we are irritated, and we even perhaps hurt someone close to us. Our enemy employs that as an evidence to convince us that we are not perfected. Wait a minute! What is the law of faith? Isn't it that we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7)?
Was He who was found without sin ever irritated? We know that Jesus could be very harsh with religious people. But, did He ever treat His best friends in a way that might be hurtful to them? We do not know much about his days as a carpenter, but there are some verses which are a bit difficult to glean the meaning from if we do not consider the possibility that Jesus was a bit irritated. We find a passage in Luke 9 which says that a man had a son who often was seized by an evil spirit. The disciples had tried driving it out, but to no avail. When the man tells Jesus about this, Jesus exclaims:
“O unbelieving and perverse generation," ……, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here." (v. 41)
Not the style we usually associate with Jesus in his relation with the disciples. Despite His outburst, He immediately afterwards healed the boy. Jesus walked by faith and not sight. He knew that "whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23). When Jesus walked the earth He had a soul and a body. There are plenty of examples in the scriptures that He had emotions which fluctuated in accordance with the situations He faced. However, He lived His life in God, in the same manner as we live our lives in Christ. He was a perfect expression of God. If you have seen me you have seen God, He said with confidence - the confidence of faith. As a believer you are in a position to claim that if you have seen me, you have seen Christ. Do you have the boldness to believe this? There is a whole world which is dependent on our faith, which yearn to see what life is. When we live by faith Jesus has promised that we will be rivers of fresh water - life.
In 2 Kings we find that Elisha performed a miracle and healed the water in Jericho. He used salt to make the water pure. Salt in this context means that God's life flowed through him. When God is our source we are salt and light in this world, and life flows from us. Healing the water must surely have been a great moment for Elisha. But, not long afterward some boys teased him. We find the account in 2 Kings 2:23-25:
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
What a change! From the overwhelming feeling of success to blackness - from faith to unbelief. Elisha was undoubtedly very annoyed by what the boys shouted at him. If he had had faith in that his soul also was perfect in the Lord, he wouldn't have been affected by them calling him names. As we walk in the Lord we have the same power to either bless or curse as Elisha. We are perfected by faith. However, when we use our words to curse we kill, and we have stepped out of faith. We have let unbelief take hold of us and we then easily become tossed by the wind (James 1:6). This obviously is one of the reasons why our faith must grow. We are all in Christ, but some has a strong faith, others haven't.
Assume that in my interaction with my kids I use harsh words. My curse may have a negative effect on my children at the time, they may internalize it and believe the lie that I have uttered. It could cause them damage for many years if they believe the lies that the world tells them. Not only can my words hurt them, they can also hurt me, causing me to lose my boldness in Christ. The Elisha case demonstrates how life can be quenched.
Jesus' love towards the disciples far outweighed His harsh words. His love made them flourish. His resurrection life in them now, that is, you and me, makes our surroundings flourish. When we live by faith we will be a perpetual source of life. Faith brings forth life, God's life.
On a side note: When our kids were small I was still under the law, and I also had a terrible temper. One day I felt very bad. Bad conscience and condemnation reigned in my depressed state of mind. Then God spoke His life giving words onto me: "To your children you are best father in the world!" Since then I have had a supernatural peace when it comes to my relation to my children. God is in control. He is perfectly able to nullify every harsh word I have ever said and, moreover, if I was a perfect father my children would never have needed God.
(This article has been enriched by invaluable inputs by Jessica Robertson and Fred Pruitt)