Seeing through this world

Mary did not rise to serve until she had spent time at the feet of Jesus, listening to His Word (Luke 10:39). This summer has been an opportunity not just for physical rest but to enter deeper into the rest in our souls that is the fruit of His Word; His sound mind planted in us. Fear and the impatience it leads to, can drive us into setting goals for ourselves that are simply not of God and as we strive to attain them, it is often relationships with others that become collateral damage. It helps to remember that our task is not to build the Church, but to make disciples (Matt.28:19). More and more it is becoming clearer to me that if, as Christians, we do not begin to see by the Spirit, the eternal truth of our identity and provision in Christ, then we will continually look to people for our worth and so live in constant disappointment. That disappointment affects our capacity to believe (Prov.13:12), much like carrying a sack of potatoes on your back would affect your capacity to run. As out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so, disappointed Christians wear their hearts on their sleeve. We sing choruses well, but our private conversations revolve around people and circumstances and how they have let us down! The way we behave is entirely a product of our thinking, which is directly rooted in the beliefs of our heart (Prov.4:23). We are each today exactly the product of what we have believed. This is not a popular message among believers.
Your family may be falling apart and circumstances appear to be constantly against you, but the way you feel remains the product of your thoughts and they are the product of what you are believing (Prov.23:7). The Gospel does not dismiss the reality of the circumstances and trials we are going through, it simply proclaims that there is a greater reality (1John4:4) and exhorts us to fix our gaze on that reality. In the words of the apostle Paul, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2Cor.4:18) Paul was so surrounded by trouble, that he simply could not have gone on if he had not fixed his gaze into the unseen realm.
Seeing through and beyond our present troubles allows us not just to endure, but to thrive in thanksgiving, irrespective of the circumstances. In all our striving to attain ‘godly’ goals, to find God’s will, it is good to remember that “giving thanks in all circumstances” is in fact, precisely God’s will for our lives (1Thess.5:18). This world may be measuring your “success’ by the achievements that are seen, but heaven rejoices more to see a joy in your heart that remains, even when no tangible result for all your efforts is seen in the ‘seen’ realm. Let me put that another way. When we treat others in a way we would not like to be treated ourselves, in order to reach a goal, it is a sign that our gaze is fixed on the seen rather than the unseen realm. Keep doing that and one day you may reach the top of the ladder of success in the seen realm…only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall in the unseen realm.
Without a revelation that in the midst of the worst season of our lives, that we as believers remain hidden with Christ in God and overflowing with His grace towards us, then we always remain vulnerable to hurt and disappointment. Such disappointment with God and life will leave the gospel sounding like foolishness to us (1Cor.2:14). To Christians unused to fixing their gaze in the unseen realm, it sounds foolishness to say that the answer to their needs is a revelation of the finished work of the Cross. The gospel of God’s grace is not just an offence to the world, but also to Christians whose gaze is fixed in the seen realm (1Cor.3:18-23). It is true that we all need physical help and support, not mere words (James 2:16), but if as believers we do not mature in our sonship in Christ, if we do not begin to live from the unseen eternal realm, then any comfort we receive from a situation appearing to turn out well will be short-lived, for more trouble is always just around the corner! If we don’t learn to fix our gaze into the unseen realm, to live from our “in Christ” identity as a son of God, then we will continue to be tossed to and fro by the winds of circumstance. We will go from joy to despair and back, almost on a monthly basis. This is not the life of rest, the inheritance, that Jesus paid such a high price for us to enjoy. The apostle Paul endured so many setbacks, eventually seeing friends desert him and his churches infiltrated by legalists and yet he wrote these words; “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil.4:12,13)
Many Christians lurch from one crisis to another in life, all the time promising themselves that they will get around to the deeper questions of God, once they get through this ‘rough patch’. But without a revelation of our new life and identity in Christ, we always appear like grasshoppers in our own eyes before life’s giants and life to us will become a never-ending rough patch. Again, this is in no way to diminish the reality of the giant problems we face, it is simply to state that He who is within us, (the same Spirit that rose Christ from the dead), is a greater reality that any giant in this world (1John 4:4).
Are you fed up waiting for your circumstances to improve? Well then stop fixing your gaze on the temporal realm because if you are waiting for your troubles to stop…you are in for a long wait (John 16:33). Instead fix your gaze on the eternal realm, where all waiting has come to an end, for Christ has done it! He has made a way for you to live as an eternal child of God, not one day when you die, but TODAY (2Cor.6:2). Stop waiting for God’s favour and start living in it. Do you know that God’s grace is such on your life, that you can lose all things and still live as if you have won all things? (1Cor.3:21,22). Maybe to be told that in this life things may not turn out the way you hoped, is not what you wanted to hear. Perhaps you were hoping that when your family saw your life going so miraculously well, they would finally believe that the Lord is good. Many people saw Jesus do miracles and yet were not convinced God was with them, but strangely enough everyone who saw Him resurrected from the dead was convinced. Maybe what our families need, is not so much to always see us miraculously avoiding trouble, but rather to always see us walking through it, as the resurrected Jesus walked through the wall of the upper room! To see us walking on in joy, even in the worst of trouble, as only someone can, who has seen through this temporal passing away world and into eternity. Is that not what it is to walk in resurrection life in 2018, to walk through this world, by ‘seeing through’ this world.

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