There’s a lot of emphasis on human effort and initiative to bring harmony and peace on earth. Even “heaven on earth.” Is this possible? What would Jesus say? ◊
If you think about it, it’s actually easier for a non-Christian to do good deeds in this world and help his or her fellow humankind. There’s no mandate or obligation to do so other than one’s own sense of goodness and desire to be of service to others.
That Jesus teaches a pragmatic Golden Rule which would have us treat others as we would want to be treated is simply good human policy and guidance for a civil society.
What nice person wouldn’t want to get behind that?
But the non-believer is not hampered by any other constraints beyond their own applied morals. Would that all people had at least that as a moral compass.
However, a true Christ-following Christian is laden with that moral teaching as well as the burden placed on them by a Christian and worldly culture that applies great value on such practical good deeds, activities, and public beneficence.
And what’s wrong with that?
Public vs. Private Life with God
Of course, the world can always use good people doing good social deeds to perpetuate a happy society where we all live in peace.
But that’s the trap that both non-Christians and Christians fall into if we’re not careful. It’s the public life vs. the private life with God. As stated, it’s a non-issue for the non-believer. For the Christ-follower, however, it’s a common obstacle.
It’s the thinking that the quality of our Christian life is really a function of our good works and efforts around us. That God cares more about (and rewards) our good efforts and intentions toward our relationships, community and culture, than our personal relationship with Him. Even if we don’t actually believe that, by all measures we can actually live like that.
This is “the great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The great 20th century Christian evangelist and teacher, Oswald Chambers, states this as follows:
The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God.
The emphasis is on the wrong thing.*
Chambers calls it a plague of the spirit of the religious age in which we live. He notes the central thing about the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is simply the personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men.
He makes the case that Jesus noted the understated and personal way that the Kingdom of God was to be manifested:
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
Chambers refers to it as the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of the life.
The Unheeded Secret
In truth, it is not the obvious and good practical activities that are to be heralded. Certainly we are to love one another and lead good lives as beacons of light: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
But rather, it is in the “soaking before God” or the deep immersion of our heart and soul in Holy Spirit connection that is of most value. That is how and where God moves and engineers our circumstances in manners we can scarcely understand. But we can know that He wants an intimate relationship with us more than our over-active energies directed at public usefulness.
Yes, as good as those works may be in our own hardworking efforts, God places a higher value in the personal relationship through His own Spirit within us.
And it is in this unheeded secret of being rooted and grounded in God where we can know heaven on earth, not just for us but, through God-led influence, for the world around us as well.
Are you experiencing heaven on earth?
“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there! For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.”- Luke 17:20-21
* Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, “The Unheeded Secret,” October 16.
Categories: Abundant Living, Calling, Devotion, Faith, Jesus, Marketplace, Purpose
Oswald was crazy! And he did not have to deal with all the stuff of our time. A fool for God, we should all be.
Yes, he was a very wise ‘fool for God.’
On His Blindness
By John Milton
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Thanks, Tim. Agreed. “Be strong, live happy and love, but first of all Him whom to love is to obey, and keep His great command!” – John Milton, Paradise Lost
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Thanks! Great stuff Mike. Our sermon last Sunday regarded how Jesus, even during the most intense times of His ministry, made it a priority to pray to God the Father and listen. I think this concurs with your point here that God desires an intimate relationship with us. We have been challenged in our daily prayers to listen to God by stating, “Speak for Your servant is here to listen.”
Thanks, Mark. Yes, the relationship with God via the Holy Spirit is a misunderstood mystery to many. It’s a real relationship that’s available to all of us who seek and accept it. It’s really like a father/son/daughter relationship but with wise feedback and guidance provided through prayer, the Word, and through God-orchestrated circumstances that are often missed. We can know that it’s not the heavy-handed and judgmental expectations we often have about God, but an intimate and loving relationship that is to be nurtured and developed.