Have you ever seen the short film by PIXAR named the “The Birds” it’s a simple delivery of how things that are different bring their unique challenges to the many and to the individual. It’s worth looking as well as being usable when you want to show the challenge of difference in a humours and creative way. We are not always the best at dealing with difference are we? We are cool towards it, we isolate people even when we don’t intend to, it just happens, we hold at a distance while telling people we are very accepting, however a difference grows in the gaps we allow.
Difference, and being Diverse are fundamental part of our faith walk like it of not the Holy Spirit comes and produces diversity (Acts 2 – speaking with divers languages, the church is diverse with different views, people and cultures) we have to conclude this, just look into the communities of God. Then we try to get “sameness” into practice, experience and doctrine yet the Holy Spirit cannot and will not produce anything that is not diverse. We then see the necessity to be Spirit lead (“Sons of God” Romans 8 ) to live in a Holy Spirit formed community, as we need the Spirit to enable life diverse, so the Spirit produces and is the ambassador to live in the diversity brought about by a church that is birthed and continues in the Spirit.
I have this Page to look at some of the things that are necessary to consider in our faith’s journey under the title of “Things that Differ” hopefully it will produce thinking and challenge for us to grapple with difference as it is clearly necessary to enable maturing. Maturity is a key to being diverse, I believe it is the only way to deal, live and become the diverse community of God is to mature, grow up. Different things challenge us to live Godly, Christ like and restore the image and likeness of God to our world.
Things That Differ – Maturing.
Over the last period of my Christ follower-ship it has been necessary to reconsider many things in my faith journey. For example one fundamental change that many have experiences is that we have begun to look at our walk of faith through new eyes.
Changing our lenses from “Destinational Christianity” as I call it, where my whole relationship with Christ is summed up in arriving at points of reference, e.g. the Date, Time, and Place of salvation, similarly with baptism of the Holy Spirit and now still now we wait for the date, time and arrival of the return of Christ, almost as in appointment, they were destinations to achieve and collect. I have been there and at the time was moved to seek the next destination. When I became a Christ follower, it was essential that you knew the date time and place and if for some reason you were unable to recall all the details of exact date, time and place, of your conversion, it was said that it was doubtful you had been born again. While I do hold to and appreciate cataclysmic events, a Damascus Road or a Burning Bush experience or encounter in the economy of God; knowing and experiencing some of those sudden breaking in’s of God personally, I also know that many of us have realised that our faith is much more about a “Journeying Christianity or Faith”. Journeying towards the Father and filling out the Christ in our lives as “…as he fills all in all…” we are maturing, discovering and deepening in our faith. Today we find it is much more about helping people to join a journey, this journey being the greatest adventure ever. Of course we still uphold a new birth experience in order to ”…to see the Kingdom of God…” as Jesus explained to Nicodemus during that dark night conversation, we recognise that each of us is to be born again. We should seek not to do the human thing, i.e. create an in and out, an us and them, a born again and not born again, although this is a great challenge, as there are those born from above and those that are not. We must journey treating everyone with a Kingdom understanding, inclusively, just as Jesus did as he explained the Father’s ways. The natural human way is to create in and out groups, gangs or cliques at worst, rather than us being the love of God in our world, taking Him to our world, incarnating him daily, is not this our journey.
My appeal is that Exclusivity does not figure in our lives, it must not be our life’s way, due to our various experiences and understandings of doctrine, but rather inclusivity is the way in which we live and function, coming from our own experience with the Father, being drawn in through his Grace, following our understanding of the Kingdom of God as it arrives in on us daily.
While I know that most don’t have a burning bush experience in their daily lives, there does come a time when through the events and journey of our lives we come to a place of realisation or emotional release, crossing a line, where life’s aims and goals change, and Christ becomes our Lord and is becoming our Lord. We are constantly journeying towards the God who created all. By the way I still fully understand that some will have a date, time and place when they were saved, being saved, and will be saved.
How many times have you heard said “God is doing a …new thing…” we can so easily find ourselves in a cul-de-sac of a clichés, becoming frustrated or we have to realise that God is this by nature, He is new. “His mercies are new every morning” these mercies are the manifestation, the outflow of who he is, therefore they demonstrate and follow after his nature. Yahweh is the “ever arriving one”, Isaiah caught a glimpse of this when he saw the Lord “…high and lifted up…” and his “…train filling the temple…” (Isaiah 6) that is the arriving one. Moses saw in Exodus 33 Yahweh’s back parts, the aspect of the Father that was ever arriving with no end to him, when he begins he keeps on coming! When he begins in your life he keeps on coming, when he enters a situation he keeps on coming. He is journey towards us and we towards him we are arriving while he and His Kingdom is still breaking in on us this “age that is to come” being made real and occupying this created world more and more as we journey into Him.
Things That Differ
The following thoughts have been taken from writings of T. Austin-Sparks by kind permission; I trust it will assist in your journey of maturing.
Things That Differ by T. Austin-Sparks – First published in “A Witness and A Testimony” magazines, 1927.
Lack of spiritual perception and discernment is accountable for more confusion, paralysis, ineffectiveness, and failure in Christian life and service than we realise.
This lack is itself an indication of many things, but primarily of failure to mature or develop in spirit. In other words it implies spiritual infancy. There are very many of the Lord’s children, truly born again, who, while they have become mature men and women, rich in experience so far as Christian work and works are concerned; and more or less mellowed by years, made steady by disillusionments and the vanishing of fancies, dreams, idealisms, romances, before the chilly winds of frigid facts; whose sympathies are enlarged because of an expanded knowledge of human weakness and suffering, and who, in many other ways have become good and kindly and full of that knowledge which restrains from extremes and checks preponderance, are, nevertheless, still very immature in those spiritual faculties which discriminate in things that differ.
It would seem almost impossible to lay too great an emphasis upon the fact that to fully satisfy the mind of God in His eternal conception and purpose, initial conversion is not enough, and at least twenty of the New Testament books were written for “The perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering.”
It is not one of the least important of these vital discriminations that the laying under grace of our natural life, its temperament, disposition, and constitution, so that our soul is purged and sweetened is not the same as having our spirit quickened, energised, endowed with spiritual gifts, and exercised unto essentially spiritual service. There are many benevolent and benign old saints who are pathetically lacking in this latter sense.
The first may be passive in temper, though active in “good works,” but the second will see through and beyond and know by spiritual discernment (not shrewd natural judgment) whether a thing be of God or not, and what are the limits of the Lord’s acceptance, approval, and seal.
There are “many mighty works” in His Name which stand in no relation to Him, and only that which the Father is doing can carry His resource. The knowledge of such things is spiritual discernment. Not all work FOR God is service TO God. A child’s sincere desire to help its mother may only result in more mess. So in the matter of service there is the great difference between engaging in work in His Name, which seems to us to be good and right and necessary and even scriptural, but which fails to achieve His end even while it seems to be successful; and on the other hand there is that which springs firstly out of a revelation of self which brings one to an end of their own works for God, and then a revelation of the Lord which makes spiritual ministry possible. We must be constituted ministers by the things wherein the Lord has appeared unto us, and will yet appear unto us, “for to this end have I appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things wherein thou hast seen Me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee” (Acts 26:16).
One thought on “Things that Differ”
A question on exclusivity …how to bring together orthodox understandings of what the Word teaches about homosexuality with the genuine and experiential beliefs of friends who own both the name of Jesus and the identity of ‘gay’?