Priority number 1

I think this is an important issue that Selwyn raises in today’s study.

To maintain the context, I’ll repeat a lot of what he says: “As you meditate with me on this issue of adoration, I wonder if you might be thinking this is something best left to contemplative order of monks – to those who have the time for such things. Possibly some readers – activists perhaps – are thinking: ‘All this is fine, but in a world such as ours we would be better given to social reform or works of charity. This is how we can best glorify God’.”

Of course, works of charity etc – in themselves, are not the best way to glorify God. I can’t understand how anyone could reach this position if they have taken into their heart all of what the Bible says about God.

We cannot truly love another unless we first love God. To be very clear about this issue – I’m using the word ‘love’, in the same way as the Greek word ‘agape’ is used – I’m not referring to the other forms of love which can only be expressed appropriately when included under the umbrella of ‘agape’, the perfect love of God. To love God above all other creation – is the highest priority, how could it be any different?

Selwyn goes onto say: “Work for God is important, but I stress again that the most effective service for God is accomplished by those who know Him intimately. … Contemplation of God and nearness to Him enables Him to direct His willing servant to the tasks that He wants done. … Adoration disinfects us from egoism (Henri Bremond).”

If we don’t have God as the highest priority – we run the risk of putting ourselves or others as the highest priority – this risk is often seen when we do works of charity etc, with the aim (sometimes unconsciously) to produce a feeling of self-satisfaction by doing ‘good’.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NIV): “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

Now – let me say once again; ‘why is it critical to have the love of God as our highest priority?  It is our loving contemplation of God and nearness to Him that enables Him to direct His willing servant to the tasks that He wants done!

Any comments?

Keeping still

Selwyn’s introduction is good – it had me thinking about the issue he raised – that is, our ability to ‘be still’ for any length of time.

He writes: “We pursue the thought we touched on yesterday, namely that when we gaze on God we become like a mirror in which the likeness of Jesus is seen more and more clearly. Adoration is holding ourselves steady so that the Lord’s reflection can fall on us. A mirror is of no use unless it remains steady in front of the object is should be reflecting. Remaining still before the Lord is the secret. … In these frantic and frenetic days when people seem troubled if they even miss one section of a revolving door, the idea of sitting quietly before God in adoration and contemplation of Him seems an impossibility to a large proportion of the Christian population.”

We all know that the ones who find it the hardest to keep still – are little children. It’s rare for a parent, in this ‘modern-age’, to help their children to learn how to be still. On the contrary, the entertainment provided to children appears to encourage continuous activity – and, I don’t mean just physical activity. Kids, who sit in front of a TV or computer screen want the action on the screen to be fast and furious – anything less, is just plain boring to their pampered senses.

Consequently, is it any wonder that when people are exposed to such frenetic activity – day after day, that they then find it hard to be still?

In a similar way,  I think the people who find it difficult to sit still in front of the throne of God – have not reached full maturity in their faith.

In Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV), we read: “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Although the above verses are not about keeping still while we adore the one, true God – the verses are about spiritual maturity. The important message from these verses is that by constantly practising to be still – we can train ourselves; it will need some work – some effort by ourselves (in association with prayer) to achieve this outcome, the ability to be still in front of God.  As we read in Psalm 46:10 (NIV):  God says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

‘The secret of the saints’

Selwyn continues his discussion on adoration. He says: “Some believe that the holiness of life seen in the lives of the great saints of the past was a by-product of gazing on God in silent adoration.”

The best aspect, I think, is when Selwyn mentions the text selected for today’s reading and meditation (as follows).

2 Corinthians 3:7-18 (NIV, Paul writing to the Corinthian church): “Now if the ministry (the law of Moses, the covenant with Israel) that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate (reflect upon) the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

A number of points: first off, the covenant we have in Christ, is superior to the old covenant with Israel, brought to the people through Moses. There is no need for a follower of Jesus to follow the old laws covered in some 613 verses, as listed in the Old Testament – however, we must follow the laws engraved on our hearts by God’s Spirit. Sadly, this issue is often not well understood by many people who call themselves followers of Christ. Second point: since the ministry of Christ brings righteousness, which is the basis of the hope we have been given, by the Holy Spirit  – therefore, we can be very bold, a reflection of the trust we have in the words of Jesus. There is no sin of presumption – in the boldness which our faith and trust in Jesus, provides – as some groups have been known to state. A further facet of our hope, is that we are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory – how great is this transformation?

Lastly, another issue which does not get enough coverage (I think) within the Church – the Lord is the Spirit. There is no separation (regarding will, or purpose) of Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit – there is only, one true God.  There are some among us, who appear to teach a theology which leads to three Gods; the Trinity is a mystery – we can never even come close to explaining it – this side of the grave. Your view?