And if the tree of our life is to tower high, to bless many, to be significant in the body of Christ, our roots must go correspondingly deep into the secret places of Christ. We must drink of his sweet words, his life-giving waters.
So Good Friday, the travesty of justice, ends with the greatest act of validation I know of, the resurrection.
Jesus, unjustly slandered and accused, is raised from the dead by God.
“Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know,” Peter says. (Acts 2:22).
* * *
I mean, sometimes God showers the kind of grace and favour on people which a million dollars of advertising would not buy, as when a single mum read Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life to a desperate murderer, who dramatically escaped from jail, and then, sort of, allowed her to call the police on him.
Or think of the astonishing success of The Prayer of Jabez though there was clever marketing in its dramatic editing into a small, short book. Its message in essence is: Pray big, faith-filled prayers, and God is more inclined to answer. We’ve heard variants of this lovely and true message before. I think the run-away success of this book was God showing favour on Bruce Wilkinson, who had quietly done remarkable things for many years with his Walk Thru the Bible Ministries. (Incidentally, I frequently pray the prayer of Jabez, particularly when stymied, and this has contributed to changing my life.)
* * *
Interestingly, the people God chooses to validate are often visibly flawed people, which maybe why God chooses to validate them, to show that, despite our scepticism, his favour rests on them.
“Oh yes!” they said.
“Can I pray?” he asked.
The Plagues of Egypt are darkly spectacular, aren’t they? Locusts, darkness, hail, gnats, flies, boils, darkness…. It certainly seemed that someone was trying to get the Egyptians’ attention.
And so it goes, through the decades, as recorded in Johnson’s journals: going to bed at 2, or 3 or 4 a.m. after nights at clubs, smoking and drinking, waking up in the afternoon, excoriating himself, resolutions, failure.
The audience roared with laughter. I found it tragic. Miller concluded that that this cycle of resolution and failure was because Johnson, a Christian, did not know how to rely on the power of God.
Christ before me,
Christ within me,
Christ below me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right hand,
Christ on my left hand,
Christ in my sleeping,
Christ in my waking….
At a social media lunch last year, I met an Anglican. There were 8 of us seated around a table, but she dominated it with a constant stream of strident patter, mocking Rowan, deriding Sentamu, attacking an apparently nefarious, but certainly boring document called the Anglican Covenant, telling us about the gay lovers of various Anglican priests she knew, so many troubled priests, so many troubled parishes. And oh, so much, so very much gossip.
* * *
So what’s going on? Following Jesus is just not easy. When he speaks rhema words to me, I cringe.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
- Is powerful because our spirits pray in agreement with God
- Invites the Spirit of understanding to enlighten the eyes of our understanding (esp. when we want to understand things in times of crisis and tragedy.)
- Bypasses the intellect and activates our Spirit born faith (for faith does not come from the intellect)
- Bypassing the intellect, allows us to pray when we lack understanding for how to pray.
When I was twenty-something, young and ambitious, I read this statement by Willa Cather, The God of Art demands human sacrifices.