Learned Christians who teach well and can exegete the difficult verses of Scripture are much admired within Christianity. Their goal is gaining knowledge about God and this is often equated with spiritual progress in the Christian life. Academic prowess is prized and church is often made into a classroom.
But the central idea that knowledge of theology is the same as spiritual progress is deeply flawed. One of the first and most fundamental things to understand about Godly wisdom is that the accumulation of information about God and even the intelligent application of that information is not necessarily in itself, Godly wisdom. Godly wisdom is measured more accurately by the extent to which we allow the Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus in every area of our lives.
1 Corinth 1:30 tells us that it is because of God that we are in Christ Jesus “who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” Christ has literally become for us true wisdom from God. It is not the knowledge of Christ that is our wisdom; it is Christ himself! Thus, as the person of Christ is allowed to rule in us, the personification of His wisdom is revealed in us. Wisdom for us is not about placing our faith in the accumulation of information. Wisdom for us is Christ in us.
We are not simply collectors of information about God; we are receivers of living truth. Truth and wisdom are more than facts. They are a person. We receive living truth and wisdom through surrendering to the process of the character of Christ being perfected within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Christ lives and reigns in us, truth and wisdom live and reign in us.
After visiting quite a few Christian churches over the years, there is one thing that I have found particularly unsettling. It is the way so many Christian leaders in public ministry change their way of speaking to mimic the performances of certain other popular media-producing Christians.
They begin to use drawn out accentuation – God becomes Gawd. And many of their sentences end with extended, over-accentuated dramatic flourishes. It often sounds something like “Praise the Lord-uh” or “You just need to Believe-uh.” Sometimes there is even shouting and running back and forth combined with tears and strong exhortations. Is all this theatrical behavior supposed to represent to us that they are truly passionate about the Lord or perhaps that they have a special anointing from God?
Personally, I am immediately wary of any representative of the Lord who is using heavy verbal showmanship in the presentation of their message. I feel as though they are trying to both impress and manipulate me to believe that they are exceptionally Holy Spirit anointed and appointed men and women of God.
I believe that this is frequently an indication of a religious spirit that has infiltrated Christian ministry. What may have begun with all humility and sincerity is slowly replaced by religious performance and theatrical display. The Holy Spirit may very well be moving through them; even doing miracles. But, I also believe that in many cases they have chosen to believe that they must place a garment of performance over the cloak of their Holy Spirit anointing in order to be perceived as possessing a “special anointing” by the people to whom they are ministering. Reinforcing this behavior is the unfortunate reality that many of the people sitting in the pews show considerable appreciation for a good performance!
The primary danger is this: Once we determine to travel down the slippery slope of seeking the approval of man it becomes increasingly difficult to ever return to the straight path of humble service to God.
Matthew 23:5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long…
Many years ago, we attended a church where the worship team was simply the pastor playing guitar and his wife singing along. They worshiped very passionately. Occasionally, he would pause and strongly exhort people to participate more in the worship. I was mostly annoyed by that.
Then one day I was sitting at the back of the church during the worship. The lights were dimmed and I thought, “Maybe I could stand up and clap my hands and move around a little bit since probably nobody would see me.” So, I got up, looked around to see if anybody was watching and then began to clap my hands and sort of shuffle around a bit to the music.
Suddenly, I experienced a tremendous sense of the presence of God! Then I felt almost overwhelmingly compelled to praise God without caring what I may look like to others or what other people may think. The Holy Spirit had hold of me and I didn’t ever want to be released from His embrace. Until that moment I did not realize that I could experience God in such a profoundly personal way through worship. A few moments later, when the music ended I could hardly bear it. I was like, “NOOOO! This should never, ever, ever end!” Worship was never the same after that.
Then one day, I saw this video playing at a Christian book store about the day the Spirit of God took hold of Shirley Caesar in a very similar way. It is my prayer that everyone would experience this dynamic connection to God through worship. But we must be willing to step out…
“You are forgiven” are the most important words you will ever hear from God while you are on this earth because that is where life begins.
Luke 7:40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Romans 8:29 – For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Our primary destiny and purpose as Christians is to be conformed to the image of His Son. God foreknew and predestined us for this very purpose.
God is not much glorified by a life that is lived in resistance to conformity to the image of His Son. The life that truly glorifies God is the life that flows from the inner wellspring of the mind of Christ. The living waters that flow from this source have an eternal value that brings glory to God through obedience to His Son.
This is our destiny, to the glory of God.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31
Is it possible to make your favorite food taste even better?
Christians have typically adopted a traditional model of saying a prayer of thanks and blessing before eating a meal. Then they begin to eat the meal, usually no longer connecting in their minds the meal with the Lord.
So I have this chocolate chip cookie recipe that is highly enjoyed, not only by myself but by many others. I spent about 5 years experimenting with recipe variations and different ingredients and finally arrived at what I thought was probably the best recipe. The cookies were made specifically to be eaten after being refrigerated and ideally they would be dipped in milk.
I would usually eat about 3 or 4 of these in the evening when things were winding down. They were so tasty that I would often close my eyes and slowly chew the cookie, savoring the taste and praising the Lord and thanking Him for their tastiness while I was eating them. And that’s when I discovered how food can actually taste better with no change to the ingredients themselves. I found that if I gave glory to God with praise and thanksgiving while I was actually eating, very often the food tasted even better. It was almost as though something within my brain had been opened up to increase my ability to enjoy the flavor of the food! And then, as I enjoyed the taste even more, I would praise God even more! It literally became a wonderful, worshipful, spiritual experience without any deliberate intention of pursuing a spiritual experience.
I believe that God actually enjoys our enjoyment of His creation and that it is especially pleasing to Him when we are praising and thanking Him at all times in our lives. Whether it is the food we are eating or the work we are doing, we can glorify God by having a thankful heart.
And I have not found a more powerful dynamic that can release people from strongholds of depression than practicing living every moment of life with a thankful heart of praise unto the Lord.
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”