Sunday, August 7, 2011

FLESHIANITY KILLS HOPE

FLESHIANITY KILLS HOPE
A. Brother

This letter was written to comment on another blog, where the subject of "hope" was raised, and some were talking back and forth about it.  I felt compelled, because the blog readers are much younger than me, and very eager to know Christ, to write this letter, which I've amended to fit here.  It's pretty much a testimony of how hope came to my life, recently, and in uncomfortable ways.

Brothers and Sisters:

We've been raised in what I call "fleshianity", which is the bill of goods that keeps us hoping in a better life now.  By that better life now, I mean rewards for righteousness on the earth--better jobs, better finances, better families, better church life, better standards of living, better social life, better vacations, better....you get the idea.  This flesh-centered Christian walk keeps us walking on Broadway, instead of the narrow Way with Christ. 

Speaking to the issue of "HOPE" this kills hope immediately.  So long as one shred of our hope is in this world, in whichever society we live in, whichever political system we live in, whichever neighborhood we live in, whichever job we have, and even how perfect our families are doing, or how "cool" and "trendsetting" our church is, we are hanging on that thread of hope instead of Christ alone.

My challenge in love to us is this.  There is no hope apart from Christ.  Billboards of the world trumpet that if we only do this, or only give that, we can give hope.  Charities are all about hope.  Yet there is no hope for me apart from Christ.  And nothing I hope in can bring me to Christ.  It is hard-edged, threshing floor, narrow road Christ-life that brings me hope. 

Unfortunately, most of us must have the world's hope taken away before we experience Christ in His fullness.  That's me.  Had to lose it to gain hope in Christ.  I was full of Christian zeal when younger, as a single, as a married man with kids, as my kids grew into adults, and as I was busy being a "fat, fleshy Christian" when I thought I was ok.  I was busy doing the things we were supposed to do.  Being a leader in the churches, active, focused, working pretty successfully in business, doing the right things and providing nice homes and cars for my family.

YET CHRIST WAS NOT PLEASED WITH ME.  I took time to read and study the word.  I led Bible studies and home groups.  I read Scripture to my kids.  But my heart and mind were all the time screaming, "Why am I doing this?"  "Where is the life I see among those narrow gate people in Scripture?"  And I was sinning secretly the whole time.  Doing things we don't talk about at church.  And when I approached my trusted pastors and brothers with my pain, they shied away, or gave me pat answers and prayed with me, then left me on my own.  I know why now.  Because half of them were struggling with the same sins, and the other half were just as dissatisfied with the "busy modern Christian life" as I was.  By looking at my transparency, they were looking in a mirror, and it was very uncomfortable.  Besides, they had no idea how to get free of their bondages any more than I did.

THEN CHRIST ACTED.  I lost, in a series of life incidents, pretty much everything I'd been working for.  I gained a woman as my wife who loved God, and I left my sins of the past.  However, the fruit of my sins were making themselves known.  Over the next 18 years or so my life became like a slow train wreck, and the twisting and grinding sounds, the pain and frustration, brought me to the end of myself gradually.  I still tried to get it back, but Christ stood in the way of my worldly ambitions.

And now I am finding (process) the Christ-life.  I am on the narrow road with the few who will find it.  Christ Himself said it would be few, and now I understand why.  It requires absolute obedience, and the acceptance of every discipline God brings into your life.  It requires taking nothing with you on the journey, not even a cloak or coin purse.  It requires everything.  And most will walk away like the rich young ruler when Christ braces them with the "everything" requirement.

Until we are willing to give up "everything" on the altar of sacrifice (Abraham with Isaac, without any idea there's a ram in the thicket), we are still lost in the world.  Now God let me keep my incredibly patient wife, and over time we gained back an apartment, a car that runs, most of our furniture, food on the table, and some dialogue with our grown children.  He says if we seek Him first, He will add the basics to us: like food, clothing and shelter.  We are working through the losses, and hope that Christ alone satisfies us enough to keep our hands off the world.  But it is His power that keeps us, and His love that provides the fuel.  Sometimes we despair momentarily, but He is there, and we continue with Him.

Unfortunately, it is a lonely road, without much fellowship.  To talk about this "Christ-life" brings polite smiles, and knowing nods, and a change of subject as quickly as possible with most Christians.  They're just fine with Broadway and Egypt's treasures, and a smattering of Christ before breakfast or at lunch.

But I now feel a hope growing, free of the day's events, that is powerful and undeniable.  To your subject of hope I had to respond.  Because you all have the chance to do this right, to disciple with Christ, to come in through the Narrow Gate, and know the Christ-life in a way I never knew until later.  You must hope in Christ alone, not just saying it, but learning it by giving up anything that keeps you from it.  Remember this--Christ came to bring a sword into your life--not peace.  And you can only learn His inner peace by letting that Sword flay your flesh from your soul, your worldly needs from your wants, your "fleshy" expectations from your true spiritual Life in Christ.

Blessings on you all--
A. Brother

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