By Kerry Wright, Hamilton, New Zealand
It’s easy to be nasty!
It’s easy to think about yourself!
It’s hard to consider someone else outside your world ~ unless you love them.
Most Christian conversions come about from a revelation of sin: an inadequacy that has been felt in the soul and an inner knowing that things need to be better.
Western Missionaries generally brought a Gospel in the way they have learnt it, as a soul saving faith, with no real bearing on anything else.
Religion was a personal matter and it has nothing to do with science, law, economics or even politics.
Many a time I have heard the quote “You can’t mix politics with Christianity!”
Francis Shaeffer said, “We taught them what to believe, but not what to do with it.”
Yet the original Command of God was stated in
Genesis 1:28 “…be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every creature that moves on the ground.”
Jesus said: Matthew 6 : 33 . . .
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Such a command suggests that all that we do must have a resultant effect of changing and bringing into place the Kingdom of God ~ something that we were asked to nurture and protect.
Unfortunately Western culture, as we know it, is bred from Greek philosophies such as Aristotle, Plato, post modernism, existentialism, Intellectual nihilism, Phenomenology, Feminism, Applied ethics and many more, as man has driven himself to find truth.
People argue about giving money to the poor; but there would not be poor people if there no rich people.
Communism came about from the philosophy of communalism, but it lacked the most active ingredient: it is an ingredient that the disciples knew could only make communalism work ~unconditional love.
All of this has come about from the History of Adam and Eve who lost their right to rule the earth; since then man has driven himself in search of the truth.
All around political/philosophies are a reality that shape the environment we live in today. Politicians use their philosophies to make laws that have been slowly tightening a noose around the neck of Christian thinking. What used to be considered a Christian Nation is now a mixture of philosophies, come about from a degradation of thinking promoted by Governments.
Francis Bacon is often quoted, “Knowledge is power!”, but Francis Bacon lived for the philosophies promoted by Freemasonry.
The Bible says 1 Corinthians 8:1 . . . “Knowledge is puffed up, Love edifies.”
From 8-10 hours a day, 5-7 days a week, most people work inside an economic philosophy of thinking based on profiting. For two hours on Sunday we come together to be taught Christian values only to return to worldly philosophies that we cannot change because our logical thinking says, “Christianity doesn’t make sense!” We live by our words, “You can’t mix politics with Christianity”. Our influence in the world on a day-to-day basis overwhelms us because we see pornography on a scale as never seen before. Violence and abuse occurring everyday, and on our T.V. Escapism by way of drugs, music (ipods) or even video games (playstation) promoting philosophies from music lyrics to violent killing games on an X box.
We are in danger of “dualism”. And yet we wonder why we have little effect on the world to day.
Faith, morality, salvation are so sacred to us that we separate them from everyday living.
Yet in the beginning we were made in the image of God. Through the salvation of Jesus it is He who has removed the sting of death, but we must wrestle with subduing the land with Christianity.
The problem is many Christians miss the point over all, because we have been taught it is about salvation of the soul.
If we fail in that, we are left wondering what Christianity stands for, and most Christians leave evangelism to the gifted!
This is why the religious movement of Islam is so strong and especially convincing to Men!
Dr. Darrell Fergason, B.A.,B.Litt.,M.I.S.,Ph.D., quotes:
“Christian students are far more vulnerable, because they already have fallacious fact/value dualism. Biblical truths are relegated to that value area. The Christian students think they need to accept all these other “facts” they are learning from their professors. Whereas Muslims simply compare what they are taught on a subject, such as feminism, with their Islamic books on the subject, and they have a way to analyze and reject it since they have a world view on the intellectual realm, and have not left that to the secularists as we have left.”
What we need to understand here is “Christianity in a worldview,” it’s Biblically relevant to everything, but we need to understand how to build a kingdom based on the Bible; not just about salvation, but the discipling. We have to go beyond our knowledge to see the truth of what we believe ~ that’s faith. Christianity must encompass all that we do and all that we say. We have to be convinced, that Christianity builds a Kingdom of cultural values, morals, ethics based on love which will save us from hell. Convinced to turn from hell by conviction, convinced that Jesus Christ holds great truths of kingdom value.
The Bible says: “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 6:33 ).
Meaning, first above all else “seek this Kingdom,” demonstrating a soul saving Kingdom of love. In thinking about this we need to understand that a Kingdom is a group of people who live together and share common values within a culture (one in unity).
Sharing other philosophies from other kingdoms past and present, is not seeking the Kingdom of God, first and foremost.
The First Step:
We need to understand the most basic element of what we are and what we demonstrate. We are made in the “image of God”.
This image is possibly some things we have never considered before.
God said Genesis 1:28 … “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every creature that moves on the ground.”
When God is speaking here it was before Adam and Eve made a serious mistake. It was a time when their “image” is compared to the likeness of God, and they were expected to rule as in the Kingdom of Heaven. An Image that Adam emulated /modeled after the same image and likeness of God. Both Adam and Eve were expected to rule and subdue with the same values, expectations, reactions and heart as that of the Kingdom of God.
The Bible then tells us we were made originally in the likeness to God; then we sinned by deciding in our selfishness, what we wanted, instead of what God wanted ~ we wanted knowledge.
Despite the residue of God’s image and likeness over the centuries, Adam and Eve’s nature is now tainted and sin has played a role in altering our understanding of the image of God. We now live in our philosophies of life, how we think life should be lived, through ourknowledge.
Our first step to the Kingdom of God is repenting from our “knowledge”! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:1 – “… we know that we have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.”
No matter what family we come from, our image of love differs from one person to the other.
An abused person’s image of love would be very different to that of a spoiled child, as would that of an orphan child who does not understand a father’s or mother’s love, having never experienced it, or in other cases, abused by it. So when we say, “God is love,” we can only relate to our knowledge. We fabricate a philosophy based on what we have experienced and know. We make these same judgments with other philosophies throughout the centuries.
Celeste Fremon writes in her book, “Father Greg and the homeboys”. When interviewing one of the gang members, He replies:
“The best thing about being in a gang is it’s another family. Like when I was in eighth grade, I ran away from home cause I had a big argument with my mom. And one of the homies told me, ‘Hey. You can come and stay at my house.’ At the same time, the homies would say to me, ‘Hey, you hungry?’ Cause they knew I wasn’t at home and didn’t have no money. So they’d give me some food.
Here we see the value of love being emulated on a soul, who is looking for love and finds it according to his philosophy, within the confines of a drug-pushing gang environment. The philosophical outlook was bred into this soul by father’s who led the same sort of life, as the book explains in the following chapters.
Try, then, to tell a war-torn angry world that God loves them and they interpret love by what they have experienced, and the philosophies that go with it. Universal values are ingrained in us and we can use these to compare evil and good.
We judged communism based on what we knew at the time (and what we know now), having learnt from experiences what it is. How could we recognize the presence of evil in world affairs by learning the words of Stalin?
We then compare communism to democracy, and make a decision on what was the better by judging the values and morals that shaped that civilization. It is unfortunate when we learn that democracy is as heartless; moral philosophies are disguised behind government policy, something we never voted for. An Anti-smacking bill prophesied by Jesus, Yet God says as part of the curse for not obeying.
Deuteronomy 28:32 – “Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people(CYPS/ foster homes), and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand.”
Deuteronomy 28:41 – “You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity”(Drugs, pornography, gangs etc., etc.).
We live in a world according to our knowledge, our experience, and throw aside God’s rules and call it liberal thinking. But this changes our moral and social values by calling it ”liberal thinking”.
Philosophy of Intellectual nihilism says: “There is no right or wrong, we therefore cannot judge the difference.” Our values threaten the liberal world. Liberals might call it“indoctrination, or religious dark ages thinking!” Words are used to grey facts like P.C talk. Such play-of-words is a philosophy called “Post modernism,” where text may have legitimate interpretations brought about by “play of words”. We then see it was a philosophy, not a value we were challenging. “Logical thinking” is a philosophy (analytic), not a truth. Forgiveness is not a logical step when you are clearly the wronged party. Yet because of the value of love, forgiveness makes a path when logistics would tell you to do nothing, or, you are in the right not the wrong. The culture of God is not logical. And the culture of love is not logical.
The Bible says to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” Let’s think about that. What is actually being asked, is to seek a kingdom, or a community ruled over by a King? It is a community that lives under a set of values, which the king commands. A culture that enhances only what the king himself demonstrates by example.
The Word of God is truth, not a philosophy. But how do we demonstrate God’s image without falling into philosophical thinking? Fact is, we must first see the philosophies to know where “not” to look. In observing Christians, people must interpret our image as truth, not as “a sham,” lacking truth. Bad examples of Christianity bracket us into the fanatical religious group, often discarded, because we have not earned a healthy respect for what we are. We often cringe when we see bad examples being set, usually because some philosophical thinking or wrong conduct is empowering that person, not the truth of the Kingdom. Instead, we have to demonstrate an image and life style of values, with moral and spiritual illumination that speaks the truth of what we are, the Kingdom of God.
The Second Step:
To do this, God’s Image must be understood. Because God is Love (Agape), then love must be the one all-powerful principle in the universe. Otherwise God could not be God. God is All-Powerful. God is love. Therefore love is all-powerful. Since this is true,then love is the all-enduring, everlasting, supreme principal of the universe, and it is this image that Adam and Eve had to rule the world and subdue it. It is the same principal of love’s omnipotent power that defeated the devil and his rule over death.
The love of God for His children.
Paul Billheimer writes:
“ God’s primary occupation in this age is not regulating the universe by the mighty power of His command, but it is teaching the members of His bride elect the lessons of agape love in preparation for the throne.”
This means that God has another agenda that was originally asked of us, and Adam and Eve.
Life is not about pleasure, fame, wealth, or any other form of success, because those are man’s philosophies while trying to understand who he is, and, what is the truth?
Instead our task is to learn agape love. It is the ultimate social order of the universe, characterized by what God Himself demonstrated. Rank will be determined, not by talent, magnetic personality, intellectualism (knowledge), earthly success and affluence, but by one thing alone ~ agape love.
“That you may be sons of your Father in heaven, for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”
This agape love is spontaneous, automatic love that falls like sunshine on the good and evil.This love is unconditional in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.
Further to demonstrating this love, we must understand the depth that God expects us to learn this. Unfortunately the devil knows that he can sidetrack us, usually with wholesome good Christian programmes and activities. When that is achieved we become so immersed in busyness that it’s hard to do something that requires a genuine outworking of love and that is evangelism. This “E word” puts a fear into most Christians.
Dr. Francis Shaeffer wrote:
“Evangelism is the greatest way to express love for our neighbour.”
Derek Prince writes:
“The supreme purpose of every true Christian church, the chief duty of every Christian minister, the main responsibility of every Christian layman, is to present to all who may be reached, in the clearest and most forceful way, the basic facts of the Gospel of Christ.”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things that I have commanded you always, even to the end of the age.”
This commandment is a commandment of love. When we do not love we look at other men, hoping someone else will save them from hell. We would never do that with our children, and we would not want that done to us. Love therefore demands from us a change in our attitude, to love mankind and save him from hell. Never mind that we feel we cannot do it, or it is not our gift. It is a command, and from such a command, our lack of love is demonstrated when we do not do this.
The Third And The Hardest Step:
1 Corinthians 13:4 – “Love suffers long…!”
This means that to learn to love, we must relearn or seek first, the character and values of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the universal sense, there is no character without suffering. Suffering is the cornerstone of the universe, because without it, there is no “decentralization of the self, and therefore no agape love.
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
God is calling and preparing an eternal companion, who is to sit with His son on His throne as co-regent.
Suffering, triumphantly accepted, slays the self-life, delivering us from self-centredness, and frees one to love. As we grow in our character we need to learn that whether good or ill, accidental or without design. All is for the purpose of character training. God is never taken by surprise. He knows all, sees all. It is us who need to do the re-learning to understand that God is in control.
George Muller used to say, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord- and the stops!”
Our faith can only be perfected by our denial of our ways, or the removal of our self- centredness. When Adam and Eve sinned it was their self-centredness (nakedness) that was immediately revealed, and they quickly covered themselves to hide from God. Agape love requires the loss of self, and we will suffer while we do it. This world has been training us with man’s knowledge and culture. To seek after the culture of God requires a painful process of removal of self-centredness.
It is clear from Scripture that sorrow, suffering, tribulation and pain, which come to the believer, are not primarily for punishment, but for child training. They are not purposeless.
Often our prosperity doctrine is established on our self-centredness and a logic that says, “If I can have this, then I can do that,” not the sacrificial Kingdom of God.
Paul Billheimer writes:
“Success at the cost of love is failure. Winning at the cost of love is losing”
“In patience possess your souls.”
The vision of God for us is far greater than we have of ourselves. He desires that we learn His principles and values so that we will rule with an agape love in the Kingdom of Heaven. That means that our demonstration today in the world will require us to show unconditional love, as the sun shines on the just and the unjust. To let the world’s storms shape our character and understanding. Nobody can answer “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Because the plan of God for us is beyond anything we can imagine, He allows His sun to shine on the good and the bad.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”
“Why, then, are we here? Would God keep His children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are His children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from His lips would bring them into the centre of their hopes in heaven? The answer is – they are here that they may ‘live unto the Lord,’ and may bring others to know His love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the ‘salt of the earth,’ to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for Him, and as ‘workers together with Him.’ Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to ‘the praise of the glory of His grace.’"
“He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were our faces from His.”
“Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
Christianity is about loosing our self-centredness (carnal heart), and realizing that spiritual conflicts are among our choicest blessing – God will use these as tools to shape us into His image and likeness.
“There is another kind of suffering, known only to the Christian; it is voluntary suffering deliberately and knowingly incurred for the sake of Christ. Such is a luxury, a treasure of fabulous value, a source of richness beyond the power of the mind to conceive. And it is rare as well as precious, for there are few in this decadent age who will of there own choice go down into this dark mine looking for jewels.”
The philosophy of Analytic (logical) thinking would argue that this does not make any sense. It would say; “You have a choice, God gave you a mind”.
George Muller writes:
“Any believing child of God may safely gauge the measure of his surrender to the will of God, in any matter, by the measure of impatience he feels at the obstacles in the way. For in proportion, as self-will sways him, whatever seems to oppose or hinder his plans will disturb or annoy. Instead of quietly leaving all such hindrances and obstacles to the Lord, to deal with them as He pleases, in His own way and time. The willful disciple will, impatiently and in all energy of flesh, set himself to remove them by his own scheming and struggling, and he will brook no delay.”
“Before I was afflicted, I went astray.”
“This is a faithful saying; For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the Love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who was given to us.”
“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
I walked a mile with pleasure;
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But O, the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me.
Phillipians 1:29 –
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
Watchman Nee once said:
“You can only help others in proportion to what you, yourself, have suffered. The greater the price, the more you can help others. The lesser the price, the less you can help others. As you go through the fiery trials, the testings, the afflictions, the persecutions, the conflicts – as you let the Holy Spirit work the dying of Jesus in you – life will flow out to others, even the life of Christ.”
In our seeking the Kingdom of Heaven we must be prepared to die for the knowledge of the Kingdom of God. It is deemed so important to us to demonstrate that it is not about politics, economics, or philosophies. The truth is not logical. The Kingdom of God is unlike any culture of people we have ever experienced.
George Muller writes:
“God’s real answers to prayers are often seeming denials. Beneath the outward requests He hears the voice of the inward desire, and He responds to the mind of the spirit, rather than to the imperfect, and perhaps mistaken words, in which the yearning seeks expression.”
We suffer many afflictions brought about by our own stupidity because we are not learning the lesson. Love teaches in ways we never thought was love, because other people’s philosophies have swayed our thinking. Suffering teaches us to remove our will, our self-centredness, to seek after the Kingdom of Heaven and return to the image of God. Love is the most powerful thing in the universe – only in our self-less-ness can we become yielded to the image of God.
We need men and women with character!
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it “(Matthew 16:18 ).
This means that Jesus WILL build His Church ~ with or without us. And as we prevail, soul by soul, upon the gates of Hades, those gates within each individual heart shall not prevail against the Love of God.
This is not any easy task set before us. It is a way of Faith that bears no logical thinking. But we, as Christians, are a salt to the earth, and clearly set before us are principles by which we must live and endure. It is not easy to stare in the face of rejection, or look like a fool to other people.
“Go your way; behold I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3 ).
He knows the task He has set before us. We are as fragile as lambs among ravenous beasts, who desire to tear us apart with their mouths of ridicule and teeth-like laws, with jaws built to tear and shake its prey . . . wolves that hunt and stalk their prey, howling to the wind to intimidate and bring fear, then attack in packs of numbers.
But God says to bring to them the Kingdom of God. As lambs to the slaughter we are to stand and endure, knowing full well the implications of our actions. Faithfully trusting God, that as we beat upon the gates of Hades, it will not prevail against the most powerful Godly force in the whole of the universe.
A power, the world is incapable of seeing on its own.
A power, that floods a world by its warmth,
A Power that is so selfless the world cannot bear the pain of its capacity -
A Power that shines on the just and the unjust,
A power that suffers long,
It’s the greatest power of the universe.
A power that bears all things,
A power that endures all things,
A Power that forgives and believes,
It hopes all things,
It’s the greatest power of the universe.
It doesn’t want what others have,
It doesn’t seek its own,
It respects other people,
It’s not rude in its behavior,
It doesn’t boast of itself,
It’s not arrogant in its manner,
And it never fails.
It’s the greatest power of the universe
It’s the power of Love!
This article was prepared for The GFM 2007 Hamilton Prophetic Conference ~ the theme of which was: “Without Love . . . We Are Nothing!”