Thursday, April 3, 2008

Finding The Balance: or, Pick The Jesus In The Middle, Stupid

I had told myself that my next post would be the follow up to "My Hate Speech." Well, that has changed, and rather unexpectedly.

In all actuality, I have been much busier than I thought I would be, and the sequel to the blog mentioned above has taken on a life of it's own- Perhaps becoming a book! For this reason, it is being postponed indefinitely.

Instead, I'd like to spend some time sharing my thoughts which sprung to mind after reading the following comment from a dear, dear friend of mine. He stated:

I just don't like the intellectualism that so many live in that seems to crowd out the working of the Spirit... ...I think there's a better way then a Sunday morning sermon and not much else."

Indeed, I too have seen this brain over God approach. Sadly, many who follow this way are being led astray. They study and study the Bible, but without the Spirit of God providing understanding, it becomes just another book, albeit a rather ornate, expensive one.

My initial thought, then, is that we must rush to the Spirit. I'm sure this is where some folks now stand, honestly. If you were hurt in the church of the Dry Word, than you must immerse yourself in the Holy Spirit River.

The issue with these approaches, however, is vast, it is large, and most importantly, it is exceedingly dangerous.

You see, each of these approaches takes a bit from the Word of God, and runs the full field, not realizing that they are scoring for the rival team. Intellectual study has a very firm place in the church, or we would not be encouraged time and again to do so. The oft quoted verse is "study to show thyself approved."
However, we are also told not to study too much, because, as it says in Proverbs, "Too much study wearies the body."

We are told several times to listen to the council and follow the instruction of the Holy Spirit. However, we are also cautioned against false prophets, and perhaps the most direct, brutal and shocking caution regarding taking things out of context is found in Galatians 1:6-9, which reads so strongly I simply MUST quote it directly:

Galatians 1:6-9 (New King James Version)

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

As you can clearly see, changing the Gospel to say what it does not say is to be taken very seriously. From the very beginning, the words of God were considered sacred. Nowhere is it better shown than when Israel put the pieces of the tablets into the Ark of the Covenant. It was then carried by priests, defended by the nation, and by God Himself. He takes His word seriously, as should we.

What has this got to do with anything? Plenty.

You see, when people go to the other end of the spectrum and believe that the Spirit is the be all end all, certain issues arise. For one thing, the Holy Spirit is not the extension of God which is to be worshiped. When the Bible speaks of the Spirit, it speaks of a Helper and a Guide. All praise given the Spirit of God is deflected to God the Father.
The wonder working power which many are so earnest for is not meant for a special parlor trick or to tickle a fancy- It is meant for two things: Those who need it's touch, and drawing those folks to Christ, and through Him, to salvation. It is a physical manifestation of God's power.
Craving this power, to the exclusion of God, is not only wrong in that we seek the gift and not the giver, but also in that it GRIEVES the Holy Spirit. More to the point, dear friends, it is dangerous.

Take the example of Simon the Sorcerer. Here was a man who saw the wonders of the Spirit moving mightily through the followers of Christ. He saw it, saw what it did, and he wanted it. So, he went to Peter and said, "Give me also this power," and offered him money for it. He was refused, rebuked, and told that the reason the Spirit would not rest upon him was because of his heart condition.
Many of those who go actively seeking the Power without thought to the Giver do not have the right heart condition. This is the reason that, when the Spirit ministers to those it came to minister to, its physical manifestations leave and go where it is needed, even when those who are seeking the power are still claiming it.

The fact of the matter is that this life requires BALANCE.

Balance is not something that we as humans can do alone- We can balance a bike, we can balance to walk, we can balance our checkbooks... Most of the time. However, we cannot balance ourselves. As it states in the Word, "
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9) This fact is echoed throughout the Bible, such as in Mark 7:20-23, "...What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

However, YHWH is a God of order, of balance. It is through Him and His power that we are able to achieve balance. To seek one aspect of Him alone is to once again go out of balance, falling out of His will, out of His grace, and as such, out of His protection.

Seeking the Spirit of God is a wonderful journey- But it is not one to be taken without the Word of God to guide you. Furthermore, the study of the Word in one's own private time is glorious- But only when the Spirit is with you.

A gifted author by the name of Ted Dekker once stated in his book, THR3E that there are three persons in each of us- The good, the Evil and the soul caught in the struggle.

So it is with our search for God. We can seek His words, and die for lack of His Spirit. We can seek the Holy Spirit, and die for lack of guidance. Or, we can seek after and follow the example of Jesus the Christ, Jeshua, and achieve that balance which He embodied.

Scripture and Spirit; Works and Faith; Law and Grace- It is all modeled for us in the life of Christ Jesus.

I'd like to leave you with a quote from another good friend of mine, one who has walked some very dark paths in his life, and so is keenly aware of the Light:

There are three Jesus' out there.
The first Jesus is the one people invoke when in a theological debate.
{the Word alone}

The second Jesus is the one people invoke when their car won't start.
{the Spirit alone}

The third Jesus is the one who calls us out of darkness.
{the balance}

Which Jesus do you serve?