Thursday, June 28, 2012

Preschool lessons in Christ

 I’m so blown away right now I cannot help but share.  I’ve just begun reading a book by T. Austin-Sparks entitled “The School of Christ”.  I made it through chapter one and had to stop.  Before moving on, this stuff has GOT to sink in.  In the book, Sparks presents a somewhat elementary or kindergarten lesson that must be learned by every disciple of Christ.  No, wait...its lower than kindergarten, its preschool stuff.  They are base line principles where we learn how to learn.  The lesson is comprised of three parts:

  1. God the Father finds His ultimate pleasure in His son, Jesus Christ, and has made it His purpose to conform us to the image of Christ.
  2. Christ is wholly and completely “other” (I think holy is a good fit here as well) than we are.
  3. We are utterly incapable of bringing about God’s purpose by our own strength, it must come about by God’s own miraculous work.

That is meaty stuff.  These three statements are bursting at the seams with meaning.  Just take the first point; God finds his ultimate pleasure in His Son.  He is completely and totally satisfied with Christ and Christ alone.  Christ is His treasure.  Christ is the object of His love.  The Father is pleased with Christ.  I have to take a moment and think about God being pleased.

God is happy,
full of joy, 
and elated.  

Christ puts a smile on His face.  

Can you imagine?  Have you ever stopped to consider the pleasure of God in Christ?  And to think, it is His purpose to conform us into the image of Christ!  He wants to make US the objects of His pleasure in Christ!  (makes me want to sing)    That is His purpose, set forth from eternity.  God does what He wants and gets what He wants and He does all things according to His good pleasure.

Blessed (happy) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  (1 Peter 1:3-6 ESV)

Oh how far we have to go.  Christ Jesus is so completely and utterly beyond our comprehension let alone our imitation.  It is in the presence of One so mighty that we fall on our faces as though dead.  Angels created for the purpose of ministering in His presence must have their eyes covered as they cry out


for there are no words higher that may be employed to praise the One whose glory surrounds them.  We are made of dust and He makes us a home for himself.  The uncaused first cause has moved into the neighborhood and called the dust of the earth known as man his friend and lover.  Not only that but in Christ he has torn down the wall of sin that separated us from himself and reconciled us that we might be called sons and daughters of God.  Children of the Most High. [again with the singing] His mercy, grace, love and humility are beyond words and understanding.

It is such a high calling to be destined to be conformed to Christ.  Do we really get that?  Can we wrap our minds around it?  Conformed to Christ!  This is no task we can set out to do by our own strength.  No amount of laws or goals could bring us there.  There is not enough human effort that can be accumulated for a lifetime to attain it.  The hope we have is dramatically beyond our grasp.  By our own strength we are totally hopeless.  In short, it is impossible.  Our only hope is for a miracle.  Try as we may the end result is always the same:  despair.

We despair of our inadequacies, our inability, our smallness, and our powerlessness to live up to such a high calling., but in our despair there is real hope.  A broken and contrite heart God will not despise.  We fall down as though dead before Him and He lifts us up with the same power with which He raised Christ from the dead and that is an awesome kind of power.  He throws aside our fig leaves and He clothes us with Christ.  He removes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh.  He crucifies our old man of flesh on the cross with Christ and gives us his own life, his divine life.  By this life, Christ in us, we can now discern God’s will.  By his life we are transformed from one degree of glory to the next.  By his life we can be a light to the world.  By his life we are conformed into the object of his pleasure.  Happy is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has caused us to be born again!

What absolutely wonderful news!  I can’t hear this enough.  It’s as though we must come to each of these three things before any progress can be made.  God has a high purpose for us.  He is holy, we are not.  We depend fully and completely upon him by grace through faith in Christ to take the next step.

…and so it continues.  A perpetually necessary preschool curriculum, for the children of glory.