Does anyone else feel like we sometimes make things way too hard? . . .
As Mary Ann and I were praying last night it was like a veil was pulled away and I suddenly saw things with such clarity (things that sometimes seem so confusing). I don't know that I can capture them here in the simplicity and clarity with which I saw them, but I'll try. I preface this by saying that I know there is difficulty sometimes hearing (recognizing?) God's voice, and that we war with the flesh, but all that aside, I think we just make it too hard, too often, and we avoid the simple choice of surrender that would make it all clear through the change in our life.
When theology gets confusing to me I look at Jesus. He said that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father. He was the express image of the Father. What, then, should the Christian life look like? As a follower of Jesus, we probably ought to look at the One who is the root of the word "Christian"—the One we are supposed to be following (ever think how confusing we make the word "following" alone when it is really simple in its most obvious form?)—and see what He did.
1) He surrendered all of His rights. Philippans 2:5–8 tells us that Jesus did not hold on to His rights as God, but surrendered them. He humbled Himself and walked in obedience to the Father, to the point of death.
2) He walked and spoke only as the Father walked and spoke. He said repeatedly that His words were the Father's, and He did only what the Father was doing. He so emptied Himself that He even said He could do nothing apart from the Father. Therefore, if the Father wasn't working, He wasn't either—He did nothing on His own, apart from the Father. If He did any work it was completely the Father's work because He only did what the Father was doing.
3) He operated completely dependent on the Holy Spirit for power. He said that He cast out demons by the Holy Spirit, and Acts 10:38 says, ". . . God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." (Underline mine.) He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power by God (He did not bring it with Him because He was God), and He did good and healed all who were oppressed because God was with Him (not because He was God). He so completely surrendered His rights and place as God that He lived completely dependent on God.
4) Because He surrendered all of Himself to God, God had all of Him. Hence, He was filled with the Holy Spirit and out of Him the Spirit flowed. Sickness fell away. The lost found love and grace. His words reverberated with authority. Demons cried out in His presence. Oceans bowed at His Words.
5) Why did Jesus have the success rate He did in healing, casting out demons, speaking to Creation, etc.? Maybe because He did only the Father's work, and when He did the Father's work the fullness of the Father's resources were with Him and behind it.
6) Was Jesus anxious for anything? It doesn't seem like it (except, in the Garden, when He faced separation from His Father). Why not be anxious? Because all He was, and all He did, was the Father's. He lived completely dependent on the Father and as such He was completely dependent on that which is perfect and unfailing. So, in utter dependence He found perfect sufficiency. (No wonder the world does not understand—it goes in total contradiction to the world which says in order to have peace we must be in control.)
So, if we are to have that mind in us which is ours in Christ Jesus, and look to Jesus for the model of what the "normal" Christian life should look like, we find a life that completely surrendered its own rights. This life lived completely dependent on the anointing and power of God to accomplish anything of eternal worth. This life walked in intimacy with the Father and did and spoke only what the Father did and spoke.
What is the result of that life? Tremendous fruit; tremendous intimacy with the Father; tremendous power; tremendous rest; tremendous peace (even in the midst of storms); and tremendous glorification of the Father because, when the world saw Jesus, they saw the Father in Him because He had surrendered Himself so the Father could live completely through Him. (I tend to think that Jesus had tremendous joy as well. Hebrews 1:9 says that of the Son the Father says: You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. And, He said, He was leaving His joy for us—you can't give what you don't have.)
Yes, I know that we still sin and Jesus didn't deal with sin in His life. But we have the utter and complete sufficiency of the cross as its payment, and the promise of 1 John 1:9 which tells us that when we confess that sin we are completely forgiven and cleansed of ALL unrighteousness. So, if we keep a short account with God, that keeps us very close to Christ.
It seems to me that the Holy Spirit will only flow out of what He fills. And, He can't fill what isn't surrendered (or given) to Him to fill. So, for the promise of rivers of living water flowing out of us to be fulfilled in us, we need to be filled. To be filled we first must be surrendered and emptied. Might the reason we lack joy and peace and the other fruits and products of the Spirit be because we have not surrendered so that the Spirit which brings those can fill us? Might the reverse be that, the more we surrender and empty ourselves, the more the Holy Spirit will fill us, empowering us and bringing with Him the joy and peace He produces?
For a look at the Christian life from other angles, I suggest reading:
"Surrender" is a Beautiful Word . . .
The Wind and the Sail . . .
I also suggest visiting Pearl's blog, Be Thus Minded, which you can access through my Links page. The things she shares have been what God has been using to move me in to a greater understanding of the true Christian life as God intends it, and Jesus models it.
A Note on Daniel: I was asked to elaborate on what I meant in my post "A Sacred Moment . . ." when I said, "I told Daniel what the Holy Spirit's voice will sound like as opposed to Satan's." Without getting into the bigger picture of God's voice, I will just say that what I shared with him was what I felt God was giving me for him, specifically, at that moment. He battled with the idea that he was crazy, and based on his confessions in prayer he felt the weight of a lot in his past. I don't remember my exact words, but they were something to the effect that if he hears voices telling him he is crazy, a loser, lost, bad, (or condemning voices), etc., that those are not the voices of God, and that he should rebuke them in Jesus' name and state emphatically that he is God's child, a child of the King, set apart by God, sealed by God's Spirit, and that they don't have authority over him any more (and to break any agreements he made with them). I told him that the Holy Spirit may speak to him about things he is doing wrong, but that it will be to teach and grow and protect him, and that it will be a voice of gentleness and love, because God loves him deeply.