Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"Just an Observation"

By Tony Harriman

It’s just an observation, but when Jesus personally sent His followers out to work the works of God, miracles took place: the sick were healed; the dead were raised; demons were cast out. There’s no record of followers being paid for their efforts, or of them getting rich from working these works of God. No one had to invest a small fortune in “learning” how to work the works of God. They simply went out and “did” marvelous things “in the name of Jesus.” The training from Jesus was wrapped up in a handful of words: “Go out and do this …!”

So what in the world happened? Today a person has to go to school and seminary to “be taught,” not how to work the works of God, but how to be a pastor and manage church affairs and business — the person is taught to be an "Administrator." When the learning is over, the “pastor” is qualified, not to be a healer, a raiser of the dead, or a caster-out of demons, but he (or she) is qualified only to “talk” about what wonderful things Jesus did and said while He was here. Or perhaps they are now qualified to dazzle their audiences with the grasp of deep prophetic utterings or vast prophetic timelines. The lack of power is matched only by the size of the debt left to be paid for the privilege of learning how to “talk about” what Jesus did and said — in three languages.

If you can’t see a huge shortfall here, then you’ve clearly never spent time reading the Gospels and the Book of Acts, where real human beings lost their lives for working the works of God. Once you land on the writings of Paul, it becomes obvious that most of the space in the rest of the Books of the Bible is going to be taken up “talking” about the past and what Jesus did while He was here, and (at least in the writings of Paul) what the intellectual problem is regarding sin and the heavenly Sanctuary.

I know, and have known, many good pastors (across denominational lines) who lament the lack of the Spirit in their lives and in their churches, and who see no clear indication from Heaven of how to fix the problem and get plugged in.

Are our schools and seminaries only to be places where a person can learn how to give a polished speech on the necessity of clean living? Can a person be taught to shout loud enough so that the entire congregation can clearly know how lost each one of us is? Shall any one of us settle for paying to be taught that, in actual fact, the original meaning and translation of that verse doesn’t actually say what it says today?

Seriously, we know what a mess the world is in; what we need are solutions — that work! Most of us understand (unless we are seriously deceived) that if any of us shall inherit eternity, it will be by a miracle beyond the kind we can generate for ourselves. Perhaps, then, one answer to our dilemma is to stop focusing on the problem — whatever it is — and start looking up for a solution.

Maybe there are no solutions. Maybe we just have to deal with things the way they are. And obviously doing the works of God is not all that is necessary for the salvation of the soul; didn’t Judas go out on more than one occasion in the name and power of Jesus doing the works of God … healing the sick and casting out demons? Yes, that Judas, the one that betrayed the Son of God in the Garden.

Like I said, though, it’s just an observation — which might not amount to much. We know how to make observations; what we need is to be shown — not told — how to get plugged in to the Spirit of Beneficence.

Hmmm … but, the schools, the schools .... Yes, the schools.  The Schools of the Prophets.  The Schools of the Rabbis.  One of the objections (and perhaps one of His greatest qualifications) regarding the ministry of Jesus was that He HADN'T attended the revered schools of His day; He HADN'T learned the Letters, at least, by the reckoning of the priests. And, yes, the disciples spent a lot of time (though perhaps not years before they were first sent out) at Jesus' feet; but when He sent them out, it wasn't to train people to sit at the disciples' feet, or to JUST "talk" about what Jesus had "said" to them.  There was so much more to their ministry.

I'm reminded of the LifeLock Identity Theft Protection commercial. The security "guard" looks so very official and impressive. But his job is merely to inform his employers that there is a problem; he does nothing ABOUT the problem. When Jesus sent out His disciples, their job was to "tell" what wonderful works Jesus had done, AND to "do" similar works. At one point Jesus informed His followers that they would eventually do GREATER works than those which He had done. The disconnect here is so outrageous that in order for one to call oneself a Christian, one has to completely reinvent the definition of Christianity. 

For a modern interpretation of Christianity to make sense, the Sermon on the Mount has to be all but erased from the record of Scripture, or at least confined to the idea that Jesus really couldn't have meant what He said, and the original intent was "Blessed are the rich;" "Blessed are they who are well spoken of;" "Blessed are the warmongers." The list goes on, but you get the idea. I have a sense that Paul would approve of the present scholarly debate, but I also have a sense that the original disciples (one of whom Paul was not) wouldn't recognize Christianity even a little ... as it is practiced in the world of Christendom today.

And just a gentle tongue-in-cheek observation: I can't imagine how inconvenient it would be for a person to have the power to raise back to life one who had been murdered, only for the former-corpse to quickly identify his or her murderer.  I suppose the order of business would be to quickly eradicate the person who had the power to raise the dead, lest dirty deeds be exposed. 

Perhaps we've lived without the power of God for so long, we've actually convinced ourselves that this is the will of God.  Perhaps.

And that's just my take on it ....

The Story of Redemption - Narrated by Tony Harriman


Steps to Christ - Audiobook

Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing - Audiobook

Christ's Object Lessons - Audiobook

Up a Tree with Christina Bee - Audiobook

Leave the Thorns Alone - Music CD