Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ordering the Privates Around

Luke 3:1-2 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar-- when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene--during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.

In his book Ordering Your Private World Gordon MacDonald points out an amazingly obvious reality from this passage that probably escaped every one of us as we read it. In these two verses, there are seven men of worldly prominence listed, yet the Word of the Lord came to whom?

John the Baptist, preacher’s kid and quite an odd character to boot. His sense of fashion was a bit askew, and his diet was, well, organic to say the least. Yet regardless of his peculiar ways, The Father chose him above the others to announce the Kingdom’s arrival.

Isn’t it interesting that in an election year (here in the United States) as we discuss all things “change” and “war” and “gas,” we have people of stature, celebrity, fame, and influence telling us what is best for us regarding our lives and who should govern us? It gives me gas just thinking about it.

Even with the most gracious look at any number of these people’s private affairs, one should wonder why anyone would listen to anything they have to say. The culture in which most of them thrive is one of vulgar, vague, or at the very least, fluid values and selfish ambition.

So here are a couple of real Einsteins that have taken their politics and values public and think themselves worthy of emulation.

Most of these philosophical and social “messiahs” are in a position of influence because of their ability to pretend to be something or someone they’re not. Several of them still haven’t discovered who they really are, or to whom they truly belong.

Sadly many of them deny the very existence of the One who gave them their great skin, or thick hair, or amazing voice that gives them said influence in the first place. The irony is rich. It is appropriate that the term hypocrite comes from the Greek word that describes “play actors.”

With their private lives being perpetually splashed across the internet or TMZ TV, you would think the public would know better, but there seems to be this twisted transference that takes place in the secular mind that says, “if I vote for this or that person because famous Jane or John Celeb tell me to, then I can be identified with them and be cool just like they are (at least when they’re not in jail, or throwing up and sobbing on Doctor Drew’s rehab show). Yeah that makes sense.

But…lest we Christians become too self-righteous, our brothers and sisters have had and still have their share of carnal issues. We suffer from a divorce rate that by some estimates outpace the even the secular world; National Church Leaders caught in well publicized sin, and there are an estimated 50% (or more) of men in the church (including pastors) addicted to, or who regularly view internet porn (some estimates are higher) - look folks I know this temptation; been there done that. It’s hard – pun intended.

And unfortunately it’s no longer just a “guy” thing. So what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here? Is our gospel that neutered? Is our life in Christ that ineffective? Has prestige and influence subverted the message of The Master? Instead of circumcised hearts we’ve spayed our parts and become God’s geldings. If our lot is with the world’s then maybe it’s better if we don’t reproduce. This is not the Father’s intent so I say let’s repent (See
Psalm 51).

Beloved, it is so important for us to grab onto a friend to which we can be accountable who can encourage and rebuke and call us to purity. It’s time to be healed and be
pure. If we want to see the active manifestational Presence of God in our lives, we must be pure.

Sin diminishes us. It feeds on our soul like worms on the dead. It heaps condemnation and silences the gospel. It turns the Blood and our testimony into mud and acrimony while our Savior desires matrimony.

I read this in Psalms 18 (v. 36, 37) this morning: You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. Keep your paths straight and level and your limp minimal. Implement boundaries and give no room for the enemy.

Pray. Obey. Strip yourself of your “self.” Stand naked and void of the agenda of the flesh and embrace His Spirit. Breathe. Have communion beyond union. Put your privates in place and order your private world whether the windows of your soul or the tongue that brings forth salt and fresh water. This is not about performance but fruit – fruit that will last.

The Word of the Lord came to John in the desert. The Creator of the Universe spoke to little ol common John doing his thing in the place void of prestige and comfort. He was just being obedient preaching the timeless message of repentance. How could such a man submit to such a role in such a place at such a time? He was chosen because his privates were in place. He had his proverbial stuff together secure in the knowledge he was being obedient to his calling.

His personal relationship with God ruled his private life such that his public persona was of no regard to himself. I’m sure he declared, “Let them laugh. Let them point and whisper. Let them come, because in their coming to see the reed in the wind, the Holy Spirit will fall on many and they will be saved. I must decrease. He must increase.” His private world was in order – in order that the Kingdom might come. Let His Kingdom come in you.

Let’s quit judging people based on the world’s standards and start seeing with the God-filter (this is true of church leadership as well). While the world is watching to see who “the next leader of the free world” is going to be, I suspect Papa has His eye on someone doing His thing in the wilderness somewhere just being obedient reaching out to the hurting, lost, and rejected.

How awesome to know that though the world rejects us, the Creator continues to call to us with His love. Now - can someone pass me the honey? I’m going to see if I can muscle down a locust. Mmmm. Tastes like repentance.


Anonymous said...

Hey Tim,

The privates are a place where the enemy often has sway in our lives. Accountability helps, but we have to be filled with the Spirit to leave sin behind. Our flesh can't be fixed up and made nice. I went the path of discipline on something very similar to looking at pronography, only it was simply making an idol of women in my heart. When I saw how wrong that was, I didn't seek God, I put it to death by my own strength. It took 5 years to realize how I had crucified my own heart. I had made myself cold as ice. It took much healing and the power of God to call me forth to a place where I could find a wife, love her as much as I can, yet not make her my idol.

I agree though, Christianity devoid of power does make us hypocrites, but the power is there to be had if we will choose relationship with him over self-medication, however we get it, booze, sex, whatever.

Later, Matt

PS I don't like having to put in this word to make a post. So I am going to spam you.


Anonymous said...

When we come forth and identify ourselves as "Christians" a number of unfortunate associations are made that build a sterotype of what a modern Christian is:

Their leaders, or preachers, are tele-evangelists with big hair, lots of gimmics who prey on the weak minded rubes who send in their money so their dogs can have airconditioned doghouses.

They are politically active in a country that demands separation of State and Church.

All religions have agendas. (If you don't believe that put a Jehova's Witness in a room with a Catholic and get them to dabate some issues). These agendas are going to be forced on the general public.

You'd think only really ignorant non-christians would believe this stuff but like legends, much of the above is based in some fact.

Did noticed the applause when whats-her-face said that radical muslims are the same as radical christians?

Christians have a label they wear and that is a big bulls eye right between their eyes. Once you've admitted to loving Jesus and God, you'd better be faultless in your actions or people will say "some Christian he/she is".

Believe it folks. We are targeted so what your step.

But the real bottom line, that continually gets lost is this; a Christian is not a superior human being, but one that has faith, a path, a devotion to The Leader, and is forgiven their sins.

The Trailing Arbutus

Anonymous said...