Several people gave up everything to follow Jesus during His earthly ministry. Some of them left behind their families, jobs, etc., to accompany a street preacher on evangelical missions across Israel for three years [Luke 18:28]. It was a risky, uncomfortable leap of faith [Luke 6:58]. John tells us that these men and women beheld Jesus’s glory [John 1:14], and while they may not have been aware then, there were being transformed as they spent time in His presence [2 Corinthians 3:18]. The book of Acts details some of the results of their transformation and their impact on advancing God’s purposes. Their stories show us what’s possible in our Christian experience. They also remind us that Jesus desires that we become living epistles to those around us [2 Corinthians 3:3], doing the good works He has already prepared for us [Ephesians 2:10].
Last week, I pointed out that if we’re serious about following Jesus, we must deliberately cast off our old sensual nature and put on our new spiritual nature in Christ. Doing so produces a spiritual man who can discern God’s will and act on it with conviction [Romans 12:1-2]. Jesus is the archetypal spiritual man. He only did what He saw His Father do [John 5:19-20] and only spoke as commanded by His Father [John 12:49]. That’s the level of mastery a spiritual man must have over his words and deeds, an object lesson in surrendering to God’s will that we must incessantly strive to reach. It shouldn’t be a deterrent that we can’t attain perfection in this life because there are numerous examples in Scripture of God using imperfect ordinary men to accomplish extraordinary feats as they yielded their lives to Him.
One of the hallmarks of a spiritual man is his desire to see God’s kingdom come and God’s will done in his sphere of influence. He participates in what God is doing by being a conduit for the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s purposes. Since he’s Spirit-led [Romans 8:5,14], he doesn’t need to rely on deceit, coercion or any form of unrighteousness to excel in life. Moreover, he understands how to use the authority he has in Christ to make the seemingly impossible possible [Luke 10:19]. In his affairs, such a man engages wisdom superior to man’s learnt or experienced wisdom and the wisdom of the rulers of this age [1 Corinthians 2:6-7]. As such, he stands out as a living epistle to the glory of God [Matthew 5:13-16]. We saw this demonstrated on multiple occasions in the life of Jesus and our biblical heroes.
Too often, many of us make bold claims about God that we can’t substantiate. That was never God’s intention. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in us [Romans 8:11]. So, if there isn’t a marked difference between us and those who don’t possess that Spirit, it ought to be a sign that we’re missing something. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the patience or wisdom to stay in our secret place with God until we become transformed into vessels that host His manifest presence. We often rush or abandon this process and subsequently abort what God seeks to accomplish in us. If we desire to host God’s presence and manifest His power in our lives and our sphere of influence, it must happen on His terms, with us fully yielded to His Spirit. He’s the Potter who moulds us into earthen vessels able to host His all-surpassing power [2 Corinthians 4:7].
The excellency of our fruit will testify to how much we’ve yielded to God., However, we can also measure where we are on the spectrum between the sensual man and the spiritual man. For instance, how desperate are you to be used by God to fulfil His purposes in your sphere of influence? Our usefulness can be measured by how much of the principles and mysteries of God’s kingdom we understand and actively employ in our lives with faith and conviction [Proverbs 4:4-9]. Our desperation is evident by our desire to spend quality time with Jesus and imitate Him [Psalm 27:4-6]. Salvation is a gift that requires no effort from us. But the ability to discern God’s will and become a conduit of His power and grace to others is a reward bestowed on those who have a track record of making God’s kingdom and His purposes their foremost priority. Where are you on that spectrum? Do your fruits validate your assessment?
The Creator of the universe wants to dwell with me [John 14:21-23]. But, that’s a conditional offer, dependent on my level of surrender to Him. I’m astounded by His offer. But I’m even more baffled that there are times I desire and pursue other things over such a proposition. That’s what the guests in the parable of the wedding feast did [Matthew 22:1-14]. Maybe it has been sheer ignorance on my part, but I’ve recently been praying for God to insist that I’m part of His move in my sphere of influence. I’ve realised that I must back up such a prayer with a hunger for God’s presence and His word [Psalm 63:1]. I’m not seeing the expected fruit yet, but I’m holding onto the promise that just like a tree planted by running water, the fruit will come in due season [Psalm 1:2-3].
There’s much work to be done in God’s vineyard, but He won’t compromise on the quality of labourers [Matthew 9:35-38]. They must be God-fearing men and women of wisdom and character who understand and esteem His word. How desperate are you to be chosen as a labourer? There’s a great cloud of witnesses who have gone ahead of you rooting for you [Hebrews 12:1].
Deconstructing the Christian walk: Part 1