If I Be Lifted Up
    Jesus made both a powerful and beautiful declaration when He said in John 12:32, "And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to Myself." The question that arises for me is, how do we go about "lifting" Him up?  Is it a matter of trying to imitate His life, doing things that Jesus did, showing love, compassion, care?  Is it telling people who have not heard of Him about Him, how He came from the Father to save a lost and dying human race?  Is it singing songs and preaching and teaching messages about Him?  The answer is that it is all of those, but with a distinct qualification, we can only truly and effectively lift up Christ and His cross through lives that themselves have, like our Lord, gone willingly to the cross themselves.  Not near it, or around it, but to it.  Lloyd Ogilvie once told the story of his time at seminary when he was struggling with yielding the whole of his life to the Father.  One of his professors, with great wisdom, said to him, "Mr. Ogilvie, you cannot sneak around Golgotha."  Golgotha, the place where Christ was crucified, is also the place we must go, where we must die to the control of our self life, so that we might enter into the fullness of His life.  Only then can we really lift Him up before a world that so desperately needs Him.  Our problem is, we want to tell the story of Jesus without the cross having entered into our lives.  We want to sneak around Golgotha.
     It is only a crucified life that can lift up and display before the world the crucified Christ.  Without this, and despite all that we might say about Him, what shows is our flesh, us.  I think the world has seen enough of "us" in the church, they desperately need to see Him instead.  We can do good works, and tell good stories, but the need of this day, of all days, is a church alive with the Presence and Life of Christ the King.  A church, a people, empowered not by our own strength and good intentions, but by His Spirit, His Heart, and His Life.  Not by our might, or our power, but by His Spirit, and the fullness of His Spirit comes only by way of the cross.  He can only take the high place in our lives and churches if we willingly take the lowest.  We sing songs that call for Him to magnified and glorified, but in the day to day working of our lives and fellowships, who really is being magnified and glorified, He, or us?
    We seem to be able to come up with more and more innovative ways to do outreach, but all the while getting fewer and fewer "results."  We strive to be "relevant" to the world, and I understand that desire, but oh that we would yearn to be His manifest presence to it as well, the literal presence and life of Christ the King in its midst.  Moving, ministering, in the resurrection power and life of Christ.  David Wilkerson, a preacher from the little town of Turtle Creek, PA, answered the Fathers call to go the streets of New York City to minister to street gangs.  His life and ways were not "relevant" to the gangs, and he had nothing in common with their backgrounds, but the power of the life that he walked in, resurrection life, was, and so the Father raised up a great church that was built on nothing but a risen, lifted up Christ.
    We in the church flock to seminars and conferences on everything from marriage, financial stewardship, to worship and church growth.  We often emerge from them feeling empowered, but the power is too often just a mirage.  Before long we need another seminar, another conference.  I don't diminish what these can be, but they cannot give us what only His life can give us, and His life and fullness come only by way of the cross.  It is a crucified life that will make for a better husband, wife or parent.  It's a crucified life that will bring about better, wiser, stewardship of what He has given.  A cruciifed life will see worship and witness not as what we do, but who we are.  It flows out of us as He is lifted up through us.  Such a life can't be taught, it can only entered into.
Will we enter in....by way of the cross, or, will we, as a friend puts it, continue to try and make "flesh improvements" in our lives, seeking to be better people, but all the while, remaining in control of our lives, ultimately giving self the highest place, and relegating Him to the lower.  We will have one, or the other. Which will it be, One, or the other?

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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