..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

And Not After Christ

"Beware lest any man spoil you through
philosophy and vain deceit, after the
tradition of men, after the rudiments of
the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8

At the foundation of our faith, at the heart
of Christianity, at the headwaters of our
spiritual life, lays relationship with Christ.

There are so many ideas in the world: good
ideas; bad ideas; crazy ideas; human ideas,
some well thought out and some hopelessly
twisted; ideas of darkness and doctrines of
demons. How shall we find our way through
them to Christ alone?

I love wisdom. I love seeking God. I love
"searching out matters," looking for the
pearl of great price, and let me tell you
that that takes you down some dark corridors.
It causes you to squeeze through some tight
places, to scrape along in the dust and
mud and pick up the dirt of the road
and the debris of the journey. But unless
all this leads me to Christ I shall just
be dirty, and tired, and in a dark space,
and so shall you.

I've amassed quite the library of knowledge,
and quite the collection of wisdom, and,
again and again, I am absolutely convinced
that we must be brought back to the simplicity
that is relationship with Jesus Christ.

When the apostle Paul, in his last few
days as Saul, lay blinded by the Damascus
Road encounter, Ananias was sent to pray
for him It was then that "something like
scales" fell from his eyes and he could
see. He was then baptized and filled with
the Holy Spirit (Acts 9;17,18). Suddenly
he could see clearly the difference
between human wisdom and genuine,
unfettered relationship with Christ.

From then on, Paul was "after Christ."
From then on he preached against anything
and everything that was not "after Christ."
Paul moved from the Law to be "after Christ";
from a system to be "after Christ"; from
legalism to be "after Christ"; from religion
to be "after Christ." Christ, and Christ
alone: extravagantly pursued "in tribulation, in
stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in
labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings, by
purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering,
by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere
love, by the word of truth, by the power
of God, by the armor of righteousness
on the right and on the left, by honor
and dishonor, by evil report and good
, etc. (2 Cor. 6:4-8).

Each of these difficulties spoken of here,
and each of these virtues and graces, could
be an end in themselves, something to boast in,
but resting in them alone would not be
"after Christ." They were means to an end,
they were by-products of being "after Him."

Beloved, there are so many things that can
sidetrack us, that can capture our attention,
that can cause us to camp far from the
campfire of Christ (Hebrews 13:13), but
we must go after Him outside the camp,
bearing His reproach, forsaking all to
be with Him.

Every lesser thing will call to us.

"And not after Christ."

Every human scheme will try to allure us.

"And not after Christ."

Every doctrine of demons will seek to beguile us.

"And not after Christ."

Every lesser place will try and tempt us.

"And not after Christ."

Every fear will relentlessly assail us.

"And not after Christ."

Every temptation will hope to enthrall us.

"And not after Christ."

Human wisdom will try and convince us.

"And not after Christ."

Human weakness will seek to break us.

"And not after Christ."

Human suffering will press down to harden us.

"And not after Christ."

Our work is cut out for us. We must lose
all to gain Him. We must forsake all
to follow Him. We must abandon all to be
found of Him.

Lesser things, human wisdom wrapped up
as something spiritual, imbedded in our
very underpinnings: clouds at our love
feasts, snakes in our churches, sin in
our minds, lust in our thoughts, jealousy
in our hearts, will hatch their dark
strategies, but we must CAST THEM
ALL DOWN, lest we find ourselves
to be "not after Christ."

Put nothing before Him so that you
will be found to be absolutely
"after Him."

Be after Christ.

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