I recently posted a little thought on Facebook:
“I feel like too many Christians live a superficial life rather than a supernatural life, we have an invitation to overcome the impossible daily …”
I’d like to dive at little deeper: The problem with one liners is just that – they are “One Liners”! They are condensed thought expressed, hopefully, poetically and designed to grab attention and provoke further thought. In the world of tweets and FB thoughts these few words allow us all to express ourselves, but little else. They are in this short form, unable to explain the context, the conversation or musing, that led to their coming into being. I don’t believe the world will be changed through blogs, quotes or one liners, but by people going and changing it with passion, persistence and by deed. However, I do enjoy language and things that provoke us into exploring the mystery of life further. So I appreciate all that has been written about my little thought regarding superficial vs supernatural and I feel I should write to explain the context any my heart in writing it in the first place.
So do travel with me if you have the time…
This thought came out of a conversation with a good friend of mine who has been through a serious of horrors in his family, has and his family have all been in hospital in the last year. He has had 2 serious car accidents (not his fault) and recently suffered a major heart attack. He is a worshiper, more than that a Musical Prophet with a desire to make a sound that changes the atmosphere outside the walls of church. And he has an understanding of music and sound and its effect on the hearts of men (and women!) He’s worked for many years in prisons teaching convicted criminals how to play music and seeing lives transformed through an act of creativity. It also came out of the reflection through many conversations and observations of church culture and lifestyle in many nations that I have visited.
Reflecting on that series of what we will call ‘unfortunate events’ to my friend reminded me of Paul who on his journey had an extremely difficult time indeed. ( 2 Corinthians 11:24-28). If he was around today I’m sure that some would say what happened to Paul was unfair or unjust they would feel sorry for him maybe offer sympathy or empathy. So perhaps would go in a different direction and comment that he was obviously outside of God’s will for his life because why else would all theses bad things happen to him? Whatever the worldview of his sufferings, Paul was on a mission from God that happened after a profound encounter with the Lord that forever changed the course of his life.
In about 57AD when he was 52 years old and a long way into his journey, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. A church he had invested so much time into, he writes to guide and instruct them and keep them from the worldly influences that pull and distract the heart from true and divine purpose. His concern for their spiritual health is clear and he longs for unity of the body in that City. He departs in his letters of Instruction to speak of his own journey and the boldness he has been empowered with to speak the Gospel message 2 Corinthians 11: 24-28
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. A day and a night I have spent in the deep water. I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own people, in dangers from the Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers because of false brothers, with toil and hardship, often in sleepless nights, with hunger and thirst, often going hungry, in cold and poorly clothed. Apart from these external things, there is the pressure on me every day of the anxiety about all the churches.
I don’t know about you, but to me that feels like someone is trying to shut him up! To stop him, to discourage him, to disappoint him … I could go on… what are the echoes in your heart I wonder?? … The reality is, we are in a spiritual battle, a war of kingdoms and there is no retreat once you march as a christian soldier!
The reason that I live, is to see that Jesus gets all that He paid for.
He won’t get that if I live superficially, never being challenged or challenging anyone, giving only mental ascent to what I read in my bible. Jesus wont get what He paid for if I walk in shame or if I live in bitterness or un-forgiveness – because that road always leads away from His arms, not into them. He wont receive the glory He so deserves if I sit in my office thinking I know him but not expressing it any way. Jesus gets glory when I give it to Him, when I turn my attention and affection towards Him, when I give Him thanks and praise for all that He has done in my life and the life of others. When I celebrate the very thing I need that someone else has got. That may even be costly especially when it has to do with healing.
After 24 years of disease in my own body, suffering year after year in incredible pain, numerous hospital visits, operations, treatments and awful medication, I know what it is to be bitter, to hold onto life with fingernails cracking and to have very real doubts. I went through the worst year of my life in 2014, having consented to major abdominal surgery and long and difficult months recovering afterwards. I’ve had the privilege to travel all over the world to places of revival, to healing conference, to meetings and churches where God is clearly moving supernaturally and I never once got what I went there for. Right now I’m going through the most difficult situation I’ve ever had to deal with in 20 years of pastoring and leading a church…
Yet I know God is good, all the time.
I choose to believe it, though its not hard really because I’ve seen His goodness manifested in so many lives over those same years… I know God is not afraid of my fears because He has overcome fear with His perfect love, my sometimes faltering faith is being perfected by my Saviour who journeys with me and helps me overcome my unbelief to believe even more! That’s His way and His nature. So, I choose to walk un-offended. I’m choosing to focus not on what hasn’t happened, but what God has done and is doing and celebrate and give thanks for every single testimony I hear. I choose to dwell in His presence, I choose to believe even a little bit, I choose to live a naturally supernatural life – where He speaks daily where he rejoices over me with singing, where his power works through my life and where lives change when I co-labour with Jesus.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me! So for me, Jesus gets what he paid for when I heal the sick, in His name, when I open deaf ears , when I bind up the broken hearted, when I deliver someone from an evil sprit and when I see people set free of affliction, depression and disease. And I have seen that happen all over the world. Reading Paul’s words gives me a great motivation in my heart and spirit.
Romans 15:18 – I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way round to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.
For me, the gospel is fully proclaimed through a supernatural life, by leading people into relationship with a loving Father, by signs and wonders and miracles through the power of the Spirit of God. Also, going back to my musical prophet friend and my life; to play music that shifts atmospheres and hosts the manifest presence of God. It seems though in this life that those things are among those opposed by the ‘prince and power of the air’. To quote a favourite preacher of mine: “You will understand the importance of the word over your life, the call and assignment for your life, by the level of opposition to it” I have found it to be true that the greatest area of affliction, loss or difficulty in life, is so often to be the greatest area of life where you will be able help others to breakthrough and succeed!
A young David cut of Goliath’s head with the sword the giant said he was going to slay him with… that same sword was in David’s hand in every battle he had for the rest of his life! What is profound to me about Paul’s journey is that it was a year after writing to the church in Corinth about all the trouble, pain and danger he suffered, that he wrote these powerful words:
Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
No thing can come between us and the unchanging love of God. That should make us feel pretty good regardless of what is going on right now, what happened when we were 12 or what we think might happen next week… We cannot hold all those worries the burden is just far too great! So what are we supposed to be then ? I believe we are supposed to be “More than” people… God says his power shows up best in weak people… “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” I believe there is an assignment on our lives to conquer something called impossible. If we can do it in our own strength why do we need God? No, Christ is in us the hope of glory, we are intrinsically connected to Him who knows no impossibility at all. So we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Regardless of pain, suffering, trials, difficulties, nothing will separate us from His love. No thing can and so my thankful response is ‘here I am Lord send me, let me spend and be spent for your kingdom purpose. Let me live a powerful supernatural life and let me win for the Lamb who was slain, the reward for His suffering.
Alun Leppitt 28.08.15