This morning I read a comment by Karl Barth that is both provocative and convicting, it made me think about what it will take to bring change in our lives and in our nation, that moves beyond activism, political lobbying, media sensationalism and manipulation, and puts the responsibility back on the shoulders of those God sees and knows.
It read as follows:
"...there is a difference between Christians as the Christ-possessed and Christians as 'the multitude of the baptised'...".
There is so much more to this than a decision made by our parents, or even ourselves, it is about being willing to let everything we ever were, are, and will be, die with Christ and rise again in new life with Him. The old me has gone, the new is reformed and possessed by someone far greater, and far better, than myself.
I once had a conversation with a man who had such a powerful encounter with Christ that he came out of it a completely different person, his statement was that he could never go back because what had been no longer existed! Can we say that?
Right now I feel the very heart of this nation is being contended for more furiously than we have ever known. There is something set deep in the creation of Aotearoa/New Zealand that is a purpose beyond human comprehension, and unless we are Christ-possessed we will never know what that is, nor will we be empowered to live, pray, love, and act, in the ways He alone knows will bring this forth.
I am weary of hearing fear-filled statements from Christians about what the enemy of God's purpose is doing, what we need to do to combat this, what we need to read to understand this, what we need to pray to keep ourselves safe, how we should prepare materially for the uncertain future......on and on and on and on......!
The disciples asked Jesus Christ how they should pray and He gave them a prayer ... I wonder how often we pray that prayer, with heartfelt intent and focus, these days? If we pray that way, do we really believe that our God who rules and reigns truly does so? Are we so possessed by His Son and His Spirit that we can conceive of nothing greater and more powerful than our God, and allow for nothing else but His plan and purpose in all things? How big is your God, how big is mine? Do we overflow constantly with praise for His goodness and greatness?
Psalm 149:6 cries out "May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands" - somewhere the two became separated to cause a thinking that we praise and then do some kind of heavy work with this great sword. I don't believe that is the intent in this statement, the praise IS the double-edged sword! The overflow of loving praise and appreciation for a great God renders powers and principalities powerless because they are given no space to operate.
What if we were to stop fussing, fighting and fretting and simply began to be grateful every day, every hour, every minute for the one who made us and allows us to live and breathe?
What if that overflowed from our lips, our hearts, our souls, our spirits, touching heaven and all around us?
What would that do to this great and beautiful heart He has created in our nation?
Teresa of Avila, who affected a nation, and continues to affect nations with the prayer houses she was responsible for establishing centuries ago, gave some beautiful advice:
"It seems clear to me that in some way we must unite our wills with God's will.
But it is in the effects and deeds following afterwards that one discerns the true value of prayer.
There is no better crucible for testing prayer than compassion."
If we were all "Christ-possessed" would the outcry in our nation over family violence,abuse, molestation, murder, crime, rising health costs, poverty, hunger, homelessness, , be as great?
Herein lies the challenge and conviction of Karl Barth's statement!
Dear Lord Jesus, come and possess your people, draw us to Yourself as never before, that we might lay down our own agendas and be filled with Yours.