November 27, 2016

Heavenly minded AND earthly valuable

While I’ve not heard anyone say this for a long time, it is still thought-provoking . . . “He is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good.” Today’s Scripture could be about that:

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16)

Chambers tells me to brood on the reality that I am crucified to the world and the world to me, and to realize that whatever actions I might take to make me look like a Christian ought to look are not important. What is important is that God has made me a new person and all else flows from that.

Chambers says in today’s reading that such brooding is not to turn me into a subjective pietist that is only interested in my own purity and cares little for others. Jesus was not a recluse or an ascetic aloof and not in contact with the world He lived. Yet He was inwardly in another world, disconnected and not allowing anything to interfere with His consecration to do the will of God.

It seems a confusing thing this being consecrated and at the same time living in such a way that there is the risk of being called names . . . The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (Luke 7:34) Yet Jesus lived in such a way. Not only that, He prayed that I would do the same . . .

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:14–16)

Being in the world still means glorifying God in ordinary life — “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) — just as yielding to God and resisting sin also glorify God. He wants total consecration and obedience from the heart, not recluses who tries to store up spiritual power in case we need it later.

We laughed at the roadside sign in California advertising a Christian college with “We are located twenty-five miles from the nearest sin” because they missed the point that sin is what comes out of the heart. Not only that, they failed to realize that putting themselves away from the world would not make them more useful to God.

Jesus never lived that way. He ate and drank and risked being called a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners. Does my life in this world look like that? Yet He also was totally consecrated to His Father’s will and did not sin. Does my life look like that?

God wants me to live as a child of His family in His kingdom, but do it in this world, not a world of my mind where I’m ‘off someplace’ rather than in the reality of where He has placed me. This is why Jesus prayed that I would not be taken out of this world, but that I would be kept from the evil one.

This is so challenging that I realize why Jesus prayed it rather than commanded it —only God can accomplish such a feat.

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