"Christ-following involves daring to float on the dark river of unseeing that leads to the Kingdom of Light." It requires the courage to set out on a path that is not only narrow, but also far from straight. That is why it is a journey of faith.
"The essence of Christian spirituality is to follow Christ on a pilgrimage that will often leave us feeling we are lost in the desert or heading in the wrong direction away from everything known and safe."
"The distant land is the new creature into whom Christ wishes to fashion us -- the whole and holy person who finds his/her uniqueness, identity, and calling in Christ. The distant land is God and the true self we are fully found in God."
"... there is a divine pattern at work which allows the widest variety for each Christian's idiosyncrasies, but seeks through the Holy Spirit to bring us toward union with God through spiritual encounters and experiences common to us all."
Our "union with God necessitates":
Desire for holiness
Relationship is the Essence of Reality
A Desire for Holiness -- a deep desire to overcome sin and experience biblical holiness. Isaiah -- "The blinding glimpse of God's burning holiness educes the obligation and desire for holiness to become part of his own soul. He is compounded of but one desire, that the burning holiness of God would sear the sin out of his innermost being. Symbolically it is done. A live coal touches his lips, and his sin is purged."
John Stott -- "One of the God-appointed functions of the Holy Spirit is to make us know, feel, mourn, loathe, and forsake out sins."
To get a sense of "holiness" -- "gaze steadily at Jesus Christ and consult one's heart and mind at the reaction one feels. He is pure, adorable, holy. Gaze at Jesus! Adoring contemplation of the Savior. Look at Jesus ... looking in loe and longing on Jesus. Holiness is a by-product of this. They grew in holiness as they grew in the steadiness and fixity of their gazing."
"Throughout church history all the saints are of one mind on this issue -- because God is holy, we must be holy too."
Accept Suffering -- Dennis Covington - "Mystery is not the absence of meaning, but the presence of more meaning than we can comprehend."
"Both biblical teaching and personal experience combine to show us that God uses suffering to bring us to holiness and maturity. (mental, emotional, and physical suffering) ... Character, love, and pompassion develop through suffering."
Hebrews 2:10 (NIV) - "being made 'perfect through suffering.' "
"Suffering is not a very popular doctrine amongst modern-day believers. But have you noticed? There is always an indefinable something about people who have suffered. They have a fragrance around them that reminds one of the meekness and gentleness of Christ."
John Stott -- "I sometimes wonder if the real test of our hunger for holiness is our willingness to experience any degree of suffering if only thereby God will make us holy."
Relationship is the Essence of Reality -- God places great importance on interpersonal relationships. Relationships are frought with difficulties; ... minor jealousies; ... pettiness; ... belitttling ...
One can read biographies ... "that talk about ... difficulties with relationships and how they sought to overcome them. And many of them tell how even though they may have inherited a difficult and passionate temperament, they allowed grace to work in their lives until they soared above such things as pettiness, temper, and lack of consideration toward others."
What is the divine purpose behind relationships? ... to enable us to understand the essence of reality.
Quote -- The Everlasting God -- "... we learn from the Trinity that relationship is the essence of reality and therefore the essence of our existence, and we also learn that the way this relationship should be expressed is by 'concern for others.' Within the Trinity itself is a concern by the persons of the Trinity for one another."
"I used to believe that truth is the essence of reality (then, I made a paradigm shift) ... I came to see ... that the energy which pulses at the heart of the Trinity is other-centered. Each member of the Trinity is more concerned about the others than He is about Himself. Part of the movement toward God, i am convinced, is learning to relate to others in the way the Trinity related to one another -- in true other-centeredness."
Often we regard people "as the cause of many of our problems until I read ... 'Relationships do not so much cause problems as reveal problems.'" (My reaction to people was the real problem.)
"To be thoroughly honest, the greatest challenge of my life has been to consider others as more important than myself."
"Dr. E. Stanley Jones defines Christianity as 'the science of relating well to others in the spirit of Jesus Christ.' He added, ' ... we are as mature as our relationships.' " (Unless we learn to relate to others in other-centeredness, our union with God will be blocked.)
Eternal Perspective -- All great saints see life in the light of eternity. The great and the godly seem always to be able to keep heaven in view. ( ... the silly little honors ... or the material things that many love and crave are seen as unimportant.)
"With a mind set on the glory of God and a heart aflame with supernatural love, ... (they know ... they know that earth is not their home.)"
"Heaven is our home; it is where we belong. It is a theme that must be kept in constant focus ... 'we are to be God-intoxicated men who always have heaven in view.' "
"The happiest people on earth ... are those who keep their eyes focused on heaven. The Psalmist wrote, 'In thy presence is fullness of joy. In thy right hand are pleasures forevermore' (Psalm 16:11, NASB).
Joy is found in the realization of heaven.
Joy is also found in the anticipation of heaven.
by David G. Benner Conversations Magazine, Vol. 2:2, Fall-2004
(Murphy Toerner -- this article was just one of many wonderful, challenging articles found in a relatively new periodical "Conversations". The senior editor is Larry Crabb. If you are interested in knowing more about this new magazine, please contact me at 753-7773 and I will be glad to give you the information.)