Taking our Christianity to the next Level
You have probably heard the term separating the men from the boys. It represents a season of change where distinctions and contrasts come into plainer view. Take the example of Esau and Jacob. Here you have twins that became known for two very different attitudes concerning the things of God. One had no appetite for God while the other sought every means to obtain the blessing of the first-born.
“And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me” (Gen 25:31-32)?
Esau had an appetite for the temporal pleasures of his day. He had no regard for the things of God; he sold out his privilege cheaply for the purpose of instant gratification to his flesh. Is today’s church immune from the Esau mentality? What are we truly hungering after; the things of this world or the righteousness of God? Our heart motive will eventually lead us into one of these two categories.
Today’s entitlement based society is one where Esau would feel right at home. It is a generation of people from all ages that choose to live by a “live for today” platform. There is little appetite for the things of God contrasted by an out hunger for fleshly indulgence. It speaks of a people who have lost sight of the cost that had been paid to help secure the freedoms that can now be enjoyed. What do you think about the above verses; is there a warning for us to take note of? Do you think there can be a tendency in taking the blessings and privileges of God for granted? Is this tendency finding greater access into the church?
Where are the true men and women of God? The term “snowflakes” has been given to a group of people who were offended in the results of the recent USA presidential election. Their sense of grief at the outcome has resulted an insane means of accommodation to soothe their fragile egos. This method of accommodation is beginning to make greater inroads into the church. Remember, snowflakes do have an appeal and beauty in the natural as it covers an earthly landscape. Once the temperature begins to arise they will quickly melt into obscurity. The temperature in both the natural and spiritual is about to arise. Will we be able to take our Christianity to the next level? The account of Jacob will help to give needed insight.
Jacob, under the inspiration of his mother sought a way to obtain the birthright from Esau. Here are some points to consider: The Bible made clear that the elder would serve the younger regarding these twins (Gen 25:23). God had already predetermined that this would take place. So was the method employed by Rebekah and Jacob appropriate seeing that the objective was achieved? One could say that Jacob fulfilled scripture since it was already predetermined. Does the expression “the end justifies the means” sound familiar? This is an important question for all of us.
The means to obtain the birthright was rooted in deceit (Gen 27). The next stages of Jacob’s life needs to be carefully noted because there is a message we need to take into consideration. There was to come a time when Jacob would be required to take his “Christianity” to another level (Gen 32:26-28). Before this could become a reality Jacob first had to serve in the house of Uncle Laban for a period of about 20 years. Let’s illustrate this further; before Moses could assume his leadership role as the deliverer of Israel he had to experience 40 years of wilderness wanderings (Exo 2). God had to bring his beloved Israel into a 70 year captivity in Babylon for the purpose of cleansing them from their deeply rooted idolatry before they could be brought to the next level. Jesus, as the son of man had to endure 18 years of hidden obscurity before entering into the fullness of his ministry (Isa 49:2). What does this all mean for us today? There are some New Testament highlights from this week’s reading that helps to provide clues and insights:
The 7 kingdom parables from Mathew 13 demonstrates the progressive walk of a believer. Each parable builds upon the other. (There is a fascinating study regarding the 7 feasts of the Lord (Lev 23), the 7 kingdom parables (Math 13) and 7 churches of Revelation (Rev 2-3) that will be forthcoming that will give greater insight into this truth.) I would like to zero in on the 6th parable as noted below:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Math 13:45-46)
This speaks of a believer who is choosing to take his walk with God to a higher level. This man is bringing to the table an intentional and focused pursuit of a greater treasure. This requires a letting go of impediments and worldly rudiments that would get in the way of a greater intimacy with God. This man is one who puts the kingdom of God as a priority. This is his appetite as opposed to the temporal example of Esau.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Math 6:33)
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Pro 25:2).
Let’s go back to Jacob for a moment; he has the birthright but he also has an unresolved nature of deceit that needs addressing. Do we see the bigger picture like the merchant man above; do we see the value and cost of the true riches? Is our appetite so immersed in the things of God so that will have ability to serve in our respective Babylonian captivities? This will be a recurring theme and question throughout our journey in the Word of God.
A self-absorbed narcissistic brand of Christianity will never bring us to the next level. The appetite that motivated Esau is gaining greater ground in the church. Where is the reverence and sense of awe for the presence of God; where is the Fear of the Lord amongst a people who should know better? We may easily dismiss the “snowflakes” ascension in today’s politically correct culture but do you realize these same “snowflakes” are materializing in the modern church? Yes, it is beginning to snow! (Sigh)
It is the time and season to recognize the “new wine” that is being made available. Jesus made clear at the marriage feast of Cana that the best wine is saved for the last (John 2:10). God is doing a new thing but there needs to be a “manning up” to step into the purposes of God. This was seen in the life of Jacob after serving his deceiving Uncle Laban. That exposure of being deceived helped address his own nature of deceit. It was imperative for Jacob to be cleansed from this nature even though he had the right and privileges of the birthright. Jacob had an encounter with God at Penuel. This engagement resulted in a new name and authority that enabled Jacob to come to the next level (Gen 32:24-28). It was here where Jacob answered the following question; what is thy name? (vs 27) It is a question that God is asking us today. It requires a transparency and honesty in being able to face the truth about ourselves. Are we willing to submit to the house of Uncle Laban; are we intentional as the merchant man in seeking after a greater treasure? Are we willing to become the new wineskins that will enable God to produce something new and fresh in our lives? A lot of questions to ponder but each of them helps in providing a gauge to determine whether we have what it takes in going to a higher level.
In closing it is worth looking at what transpired after Jesus challenged his disciples with regard to becoming new wineskins (Math 9:18-38). There are five powerful demonstrations of the power of God at work in the closing verses of chapter 9. I personally feel Jesus was showing the potential of what new wine can produce. We marvel and long after such miracles but oftentimes fail to understand the prerequisites in coming into that place of authority and privilege. Note how these passages end in Mathew 9.
“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” Math 9:37-38).
Yes, it’s time to separate the men from the boys; those who are of full age from the babes and immature in Christ (Heb 5:13-14). God is calling us to a mighty harvest but are we prepared? Remember, Jacob had the rights and privileges of the firstborn but he also had a nature of uncircumcised deceit. We have been bestowed with many great promises but that alone is not sufficient. What are we truly hungry for and where do we devote our energy and time? What priorities do we seek to live by? One final question, are we really willing to take our walk with God to a greater level? Let’s not resort to spiritualized snowflakes but rather be men and women of God characterized by integrity and substance.
“If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan”? Jer 12:5