I’ve invited several people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.
(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)
Today’s post was written by Greg Gamble. You can follow Greg on Twitter (@ChurchExodus).
It’s been close to 40 yrs since the Lord Jesus captured my heart and I’ve been reflecting on the parallels between my life, our life together and our story as God’s family. It also took 40 yrs in the wilderness for Gods people to be transformed from slaves building someone else’s kingdom to sons building their own. That refining pattern appears to be repeated in the church throughout history.
King David and his men, in the wilderness, knew the times, had a sense of destiny, understood their place in the trajectory of God’s eternal plan and fell in line with what He was doing through David. Happily, many of us are likeminded as we follow our David, the Lord Jesus, as we journey thru this church wilderness.
But there is a neglected narrative in scripture, hiding in the open, which is the framework for changing from desert dwelling slaves to sons of the Heavenly Jerusalem. It’s not explicit but God purposefully wove it into the shadows of the life experiences and relationships of those that love Him. God shrouds Himself in mystery, and allows confusion and misrepresentation of His nature without setting the record straight. And though it’s us doing the misrepresenting, He ignores it, and like a true lover, focuses on us, making us chase Him, so we appreciate Him and how He has chased us.
What corrects the misrepresentation is our changed lives, as we also ignore the wrong understandings we have of Him and each other, and simply love one another as He commands us.
The hidden narrative is knowing Him, in deep, intimate marriage like love, and in a similar shadow way, knowing one another, no longer after the flesh, but in Him.
Titles, architecture, family ties and all earthly structures don’t factor into this knowing. There’s no prescription or 12 step programs in scripture for getting from the wilderness to Jerusalem above. The scriptures themselves don’t say the scriptures are Life, though Jesus said they point to Him. He alone is Life, and we should stop trying to squeeze life from ink and draw from Him, and Him in one another.
I was saved at 17 from a wicked life, didn’t understand church and spent my time alone. I knew I was defective, sought to be rid of my residual guilt and brokenness, and stumbled upon the Song of Solomon in the O.T.
May I suggest you spend a few hours reading and contemplating this love poem if you haven’t?
I identified with the Shunammite as she fell in love with her beloved, intuitively sensing my own longing for eternal love, affection and meaningful life.
I was transfixed from the start, and in spite of the many wonderful, and challenging attributes of this life, and my life together with others who love Him, He’s kept me falling in love with Him in response to His endless love for me.
Through the years I’ve been reduced to loving and being loved by God and people, over and over again. Life has been convoluted and exciting, and some might say unorthodox.
The themes in Scripture, the wisdom of biblical church structure, the certainty of faith, many miracles, the joy and the losses have not compared to my Beloved, as He has drawn close, hidden Himself, chased me and waited for me. Everything and everyone in this life feeds into the grand narrative of knowing Him, like the Shunammite, in chaste and intimate love. God’s love is marriage love, and until we lose our fear, and surrender to Him as He woos us into a marriage relationship with His Son in our daily walk, we will struggle with things we need not, and argue about trifles. Especially the important trifles like church structure, leadership, kingdom principles et al.
Through the craziness and conflicts of this life He is bonding us together with a shadow of that same marriage relationship, drawing us from the slavery of working to please Him and one another to the liberty of family and lovers, walking together with Him in His garden. We are being enlarged from individuality to a family by being reduced to love, the starting place of Life in Him.
I haven’t been part of the big church scene, but I still identify with the bondage and frailty that has marred the testimony of Christ amongst us as a people, because we are all in the wilderness.
I’ve quit trying to get out of this wilderness of uncertainty, vast differences in life experiences, conflicting visions and pain from broken relationships. The only escape from the wilderness is the Jordan River ie death to self.
I’m resting in Him, as if I am in a garden, and as if I’m happily married and content.
We can choose to get past trying to fix what we have broken, and not try to figure out how He is fixing it either.
The Hebrew Christians were told there is a Rest, where we have ceased from our own works, entering into His Rest, where we discover that which we were furiously searching for all along.
We find Jesus, as our lover, and soon to be husband.
He’s not anxious about the state of the church, our families, the environment, world government et al. This is part of the process of our Shunamite journey.
He owns this wilderness we are in, and we would be wise to change our discourse to speak less of our own journey and more of our Beloved, and His attributes, His features and His love for us, as the Shunammite did.
It’s the language of love, which includes church building.
Her journey started with how much He loved her, moved to how much she loved Him and finally returned to how much He loved her, and that process turned her wilderness into a garden.
That’s the vision Jesus has for His church, His bride, His wife.
Don’t let lesser visions, no matter how legitimate, rob us from Knowing Him together.