THE EASTER CROSS – ‘others may, you cannot’ – dan o’deens 3.23.2018
When the weight of the ministry or mission becomes so heavy. When the world pokes fun of you. When the Body of Christ does not understand you and judges you. Press on. Remember it was not the cross that killed Jesus. It was the weight of sin, past, present and future dumped on the Son of God in one foul swoop. Sin suffocates. It suffocated Jesus and it can suffocate and put out the flame of passion in every believer. That sin can come from the world and even from within the church.
The struggle is real especially for those ‘gifted’ with apostolic and prophetic ministries. Saying hard things is ‘no fun at all.’ Moving people from status quo thinking is tough stuff. No one signs up for insanity, but when our actions are unwilling to move from where we have been and our inner desires long to experience different results, we are left frustrated. In those moments we lash out against those who are leading in the margins and pushing forward both the demonstration of God’s love and the proclamation of that love in culturally and biblically imaginative ways.
Press on leader. Keep running….run to win the prize…the victory is yours. The one who endures the cross will get the winners wreath. It will be the Father who places that crown on your head and it will be in that moment that you will hear those endearing words, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’ It will be the posture of ‘learner’ verses the posture of ‘leader’ that will be your victory mantra. Others will accuse you of being arrogant. No, my friend, it is confidence, serve hard, lead well and point people out of their comfort to the cross of sacrifice.
1 Corinthians 4 The Message (MSG)
1-4 Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much. The Master makes that judgment.
5 So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of—inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.
6 All I’m doing right now, friends, is showing how these things pertain to Apollos and me so that you will learn restraint and not rush into making judgments without knowing all the facts. It’s important to look at things from God’s point of view. I would rather not see you inflating or deflating reputations based on mere hearsay.
7-8 For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. Without bringing either Apollos or me into it, you’re sitting on top of the world—at least God’s world—and we’re right there, sitting alongside you!
9-13 It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around. Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.” When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. And it’s not getting any better.
14-16 I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself.
17 This is why I sent Timothy to you earlier. He is also my dear son, and true to the Master. He will refresh your memory on the instructions I regularly give all the churches on the way of Christ.
18-20 I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don’t think I’ll ever show up in person. But I’ll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we’ll see if they’re full of anything but hot air. God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.
21 So how should I prepare to come to you? As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you? You decide.
OTHERS MAY, YOU CANNOT (author unknown)
If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. God’s call will put such demands of obedience on you that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians. At times, He will let other people do things which He will not let you do.
Other Christians who seem very religious will push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans. You cannot, and if you attempt it, you will meet with failure and rebuke from the Lord.
Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you to despise yourself and all your good works.
Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor. God wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may demonstrate His faithful love for you in supplying your needs day by day.
God may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity in order to produce some fragrant fruit for His coming glory which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it now. The reward for your work is held in the hands of Jesus and you will not see it until He comes.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you with a jealous love. He will rebuke you for the little words and feelings or for wasting your time. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He does not owe you an explanation of these mysteries. But if you give yourself to be His child, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and give you the precious blessings for those who belong, heart and soul, to Him.
Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit. It is His option to tie your tongue, or chain your hand, or close your eyes in ways that He does not seem to use with others. And when you are so possessed by the living God that your heart delights over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8
Life hasn’t always been such a bummer. God has certainly blessed me beyond my wildest imagination. Yet, the ‘feeling’ in this poem is one that resonates with too many people with whom I cross paths.
The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. I think he targets our emotions and desires to make us feel like we live in isolation. I think he makes us believe it is all about us. I think that we are often so insecure that even when God chooses to bless our lives, we, instead of thanking Him, get frustrated because there is always someone ahead of us or seemingly being ‘blessed’ more than us.
Let go of yourself. Quit listening to the enemies voice from within or without. Look to the cross, but look more to the one who conquered the sting of the cross who is no longer on the cross, nor in the grave. Death was arrested. Sin was defeated and when we invite Jesus into our lives and flesh out His purpose all the pain and suffering we bear dissipates and we realize that what our Father is giving us is more valuable than gold. He is allowing us to share in HIS suffering.
In our weakness, He is made strong.