By Chad Napier, Crosswalk.com
Even from our early years in school and throughout our work career, we have known or were those students or employees who always positioned themselves close to the teacher or boss. We perceived that closeness in position to the authority figure would guarantee preferential treatment when grades or promotions were doled out. Our Savior desires a close intimate fellowship with us. By our salvation through Him, we are indwelled by Him.
Paul wrote in Colossians 2:9-10, that “for in [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” In this position, we are spiritually connected to the Heavenly Father through our mediator Jesus Christ and our new birth. Additionally, our connection is solidified through a fervent prayer life and the reading of the Word of God. We can realize the importance and power of our close positioning with Christ either when we have distanced ourselves through disobedience or when we enjoy close communion of His presence through obedience.
Isaiah Saw Our Need for Holiness in Order to Serve
The great prophet Isaiah was set up for service as a messenger of the Lord following the death of King Uzziah (Isaiah 6). The Lord appeared to him with all His glory on a lifted throne donning a train large enough to fill the temple. Isaiah was taken by the appearance of the seraphims and their crying to each other “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” The power of the manifested glory moved the man of God to declare, “woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Isaiah was properly positioned to see “the King, the Lord of hosts.” He was desirous of service when the presence of the Lord was fully presented.
When we are confronted with the sheer holiness of God, inevitably our soul is awakened to the realization of our uncleanliness. Many within the church are honestly uncomfortable with seeing the Lord in all His holiness. Inescapably it is then that we have the ability to see ourselves for who we really are. Holiness clears the fogged-up mirrors with which we perceive ourselves. After being confronted with the clarity following God’s holiness, Isaiah was given the remedy as a seraphim approached him with a hot coal and placed it in his mouth. The seraphim informed the prophet that his sin was both taken away and purged because the coal touched his unrighteous lips. The purification enabled Isaiah to be qualified for the service of the Lord when asked “whom shall I sent, and who will go for us?”
When we come into the presence of the Lord either by worship, prayer, or study with a desirous sincere spirit for service, the Holy Spirit will direct us on the proper steps for both cleanliness and the equipping us for our ministerial duty. We are not suitable for Kingdom service until we are sanctified in the eyes of our holy and righteousness God by the cleansing and purifying blood of Jesus Christ. Just as the hot coals were applied to the position of Isaiah’s sinful lips, the blood of Jesus is applied to our sin-diseased souls.
Martha Realized Not to Forsake His Presence for Worldly Business
Martha and her sister Mary were visited by Jesus Christ in the flesh as told in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was performing menial household duties described by Luke as being “cumbered about much serving.” Mary, on the other hand, “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” Martha during her “working” went to Jesus and requested that He tell Mary to help her. Jesus in His reply let her know she was concerned and troubled over the wrong things. Mary, however, “hath chosen that good part, which shall not be take away from her.” It is easy to have a “Martha” perspective which justifies that we aren’t accomplishing anything unless we are doing something physical and visible to the world.
In Luke 10, she is pictured performing many of the duties that our wife or mother prioritize when company is expected. Maybe Jesus arrived earlier than expected or was not even expected at all. Martha worried about the appearance of the house while Mary “chose the good part” which was communing with Jesus Christ.
We personally can be busy with activities that show us to be busy, but consequently cause us to miss out on the good part which “will not be taken away” from us. Our churches are even susceptible to this way of thinking. The church building can look pristine (as it should), but the preaching and teaching aspects can neglect the importance of its responsibility of preaching about salvation and “choosing the good part” of drawing closer to Christ. Not only was Mary positioned correctly near Jesus, but she was listening to His Word. If our spiritual minds are in left field or focused solely upon being in the right place, we are unable to appreciate or comprehend the Word.
Peter Acknowledged That Closeness Entailed Knowledge
In John’s account of the “Last Supper” and Judas’ departure at John 13, the disciples were questioning both themselves and Jesus as to the identity of the “betrayer”. In verse 23, John was positioned “leaning on Jesus’ bosom” and described as being one “whom Jesus loved.” In verse 24, Simon Peter sat two seats away from Jesus and next to John. Peter requested that John “ask who it should be of whom he spake.” Peter fully realized that John was “closer connected” and, therefore, he had a better relationship with Jesus and was more suited to ask Jesus who will be the guilty disciple. Personally, we are satisfied in the position of Peter. We have a seat at the table and we are happy “just to be among the chosen.”
Contentment is the equivalency of spiritual stagnancy. Contentment gives us the acceptable mentality that we are saved by Christ and glory bound with the “hammer down”, now we can sit on a pew until the Lord returns. Paul disagreed with the “just happy to be here” thinking. In Philippians 3:13-14, he wrote, “brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Whether “those things” referred to his treatment of the Christians before his spiritual enlightenment or the great and remarkable things he achieved for the cause of Christ, Paul had the mentality of reaching for more and pressing forward to greater rewards for the total obedience of his calling. The Lord wants us to desire more.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20 that the Lord is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” We should have the desire to be leaning up to Christ’s bosom and so connected by the Holy Ghost that we would have no need to ask the Sunday School teacher or the pastor about every spiritual matter that comes into our life. Further, John 13:29 says, “for some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said until him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.” When we have an element of spiritual disconnect, we judge physical appearance as our means of discernment. Sister Susan or Brother Jim must be camping at the foot of the cross because they always carry their Bible and attend services every time the church doors are open. The objectivity of religiosity sets a very low bar and often gives a skewed picture of reality. The “exceeding abundantly” is the result of His positioning within us as it is “according to the power that worketh in us.”
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/peshkov
Chad Napier is a believer in Christ, attorney at law, wannabe golfer, runner, dog lover, and writer. He enjoys serving his church as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, fill-in preacher, and pandemic televangelist. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter. He and his wife Brandi reside in Tennessee with their canine son Alistair.