The Obsession


     Heaven Is Real is both a best selling book, and soon to be released movie.  It tells the story of a 4 year old boy who died on an operating table, was taken up to heaven, and then came back to life, and then related to his family all of what he beheld there.  I have not read the book, or seen the movie, so I'm not going to comment on any part of either, but I did see his pastor father being interviewed by much respected evangelist James Robison.  I was impacted by something the father related that his now 10 year old son asked him one day.  He wanted to know why people did not believe the Bible?  His father answered, "Because they haven't seen what you've seen."  That statement registered upon my heart, and in a much deeper manner than just going to heaven and beholding its wonders.
     Several questions arose in my mind and spirit in response to the boy's.  The first is, when people, both believing and unbelieving, look at His church, His people, at you, at me, what do they see?  Do they see anything that draws their hearts to Him?  Does the Living Word move with power in and through us, and allow people to see glimpses, even fuller views of His Kingdom, and of His life?  Do they see what we've seen, and if not, would we dare to ask that maybe, just maybe, it's because we've not really "seen it" either.  Oh, we may know what our Bibles say, but we've not truly experienced the life of the One who speaks in it.  We can teach doctrine, preach power point sermons, even list all the benefits and blessings of being His, but we cannot show people "Christ in us, the hope of His glory."  We know what He has said, but not what He's saying.  We know what He's said, but have not experienced what He meant.  We know facts, but not the Person, not Christ.  And so, an unknowing world continues to go on unknowing, and we wonder why?
     In 2 Kings, 4:9, the woman of Shunem, upon meeting the prophet Elisha said to her husband, "Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God."  Commenting on this, Watchman Nee wrote, "It was apparently not what he said or did that conveyed that impression, but who he was.  When he came, she sensed God's presence with Him......Elisha's visits had one conscious effect: they left on that home an impression of God Himself."  Elisha beheld Almighty God, and those he came into contact with, whose hearts were tender and being drawn towards Himself, could see that same Almighty God in him.  This is the desperate need of our culture today.  Not just good works, and good teaching by His people, but the witness of His Manifest Presence in His church and people.  They need to "see"what we've seen, but unless we have truly seen Him, encountered Him in our daily lives, they'll just see us, and we are no substitute at all for Him.
     The lifelong obsession of the Apostle Paul after his conversion was to "know" Christ.  In Philippians 3:8 he writes, "More than that I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord....and count them (the loss of all things) but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ."  T. Austin-Sparks wrote that we will "never come out of the rubbish until we see Christ."  We will not, and those we seek to reach will not.  It's popular to say that the world is dying for Jesus, and they are, but they are dying to see a real Christ in real people, His people.  This goes beyond just doing Christlike things, it is manifesting the risen Christ to a world trapped in darkness and death.  Like the woman of Shunem, they need to sense, see, His presence in us, through us.  They need to see what we have seen, but they can't, won't, if we have not seen it, Him, ourselves.  Have we?  Have you, and have I?
     The letters of Paul, a man obsessed with knowing Him, still are filled with the the risen life of Christ.  Wherever he was, whether traveling and ministering throughout Asia Minor, or sitting chained in a cell, he resonated the power and life of Christ in every place.  All who came into contact with him saw it, and we still see it today in His Word.  Will you and I be such men and women, obsessed with knowing Him, willing to come out of the rubbish that we might?  To say as Paul did in Romans 11:33, "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!", and then to become partakers of those riches, and to become living vessels of those riches so that others can partake as well.  Living in what is truly, a magnificent obsession.

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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