I have a problem.
My problem is that in my talks with church staff, in pastor coaching sessions, with groups of men or couples or singles at retreats, or when filling pulpits or leading church conferences I am beginning most of my messages with the words, "I have a problem."
Now, while I do find that funny, I don't write it to be funny. My problem really is that I begin most of my messages stating that I have – and in fact do have – a problem.
The problem is this: my audience almost never wants what they think or say they want. The church staff who say they want leadership really wants consolation for poor leadership. The men's retreat leaders asking me to share something new and fresh so they can experience a revitalization within their ministry want to only be taught what they already know – and may lynch a speaker they disagree with! Yet, what one already knows is almost never inspiring.
New insight which might lead to new perspective and revitalization requires someone admitting or at least being willing to admit that they have missed something previously – either by error of omission (truth missed) or commission (lies believed) – and if we are honest, usually the latter.
The world wants to be both inspired with newness and affirmed in our "oldness". People want new or even corrected direction without actually being redirected. It's almost as if we all desire MORE of our own thinking hoping it will make a difference in our experience, instead of desiring DIFFERENT thinking than what we already know.
We all want to be MORE right, but never wrong…"Correct AND agree with me so I'm even better at what I'm already about that nevertheless isn't working for me."
What is the solution?
By Him you ARE right. Because of His Life, our Life isn't in our error, but instead our Life is found in His blamelessness. What I'd like to defend so often OF me is NOT me – it's the flesh IN me.
You see, once I recognize that I have flesh IN me but that it is NOT me, then I can admit my flesh patterns without them reflecting badly OF me. And I can only be okay seeing the flesh in me that's not me when I know the REAL me.
(Read the last two sentences two more times.)
Now – you will know the real you by knowing Christ.
When Peter identified who Christ was, Christ revealed who Peter was.
When the two disciples on the road to Emmaus identified who Christ was, they were changed – their fears, hope, perspective, needs, and behavior all changed based on knowing who He was more clearly.
The apostle Paul came to the end of himself on a dirt highway to Damascus that led him face-to-face with God unrecognizable and he said, "Who are you, Lord?" the answer to which changed not only him, but every generation since.
When we know Him, we know ourselves. But herein lies two immediate problems:
1. He is unknowable. Infinite God; finite me. No man can identify God in Christ to any other man.
2. He won't compete against me for centrality in my Life. When you want to bring about your desire for a circumstance, he'll let you try to create, try to be your own source for your needs, try to make circumstance and relationships what you desire, and try to manipulate him and others for your sense of identity and emotional needs, but that's what it looks like for us to pursue ourselves, not Him. He's not needing to prove Himself to anyone; God knows who He is. But do we know in the midst of circumstance and neediness that He is God?
So, that brings us out of a foggy forrest into a sunny meadow – a clearing of what it must mean to come to know Him…
When you come to the end of your self-determination, your independence, your hope in yourself, and your need to self-justify – at that precise moment – you can change your pursuit from you for you, or even God for you, to God for God. We can come to a place of wanting to know Him because of who He is, not what we want from Him. This – trusting Him for my needs enough to not be about my needs – is the opportunity for revelation.
And then Jesus Christ through His Spirit must can you revelation of Jesus Christ.
His is a revelation of Jesus, by Jesus that transforms us in the likeness of Jesus: our thinking, our feelings, and our behavior become His thoughts, His heart, and His will.
So Paul said, "I want to know Christ," forsaking all else that he would otherwise count as gain for that pursuit alone. In other words, what really would be benefit to him, he reconciles as a deficit to himself so that he might pursue Christ alone.
So, today, as you pay bills, and finish projects, and change diapers, and prepare meals, and read reports, and fight traffic, and check movie times, and chat with friends, and walk the corridors of your workplace, and ten thousand other things, ponder this: the Creator of the Universe wants to speak to you words unknowable, reveal Truth unsearchable, and free you to live as you're made to live in ways unimaginable as you are willing and available – okay with whatever He'll reveal and eager for Him alone – for every circumstance and activity to be useful to Him in revealing Himself so that you might live as an experience of who you really are in Him.
That every day might be participating with Him whom you are still discovering… Every challenge an opportunity to depend upon Him more deeply… Every venue a chance to experience His Life, His Joy, His strength, His sufficiency as you trust Him enough with what you need to be about Him instead of about what you need. …that you might abide in Him who is our Life, know Him more by that abiding, and grow in intimacy with Him as you know Him more.
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2 thoughts on “Uh…. Problem?”
Thank you for this challenging post. My constant longing is for a deeper relationship with the Lord–ever onward and upward! The thoughts you have shared are beautifully put and inspiring. God bless!
Thank you Sheila. Press on!