Sunday, June 9, 2013

Worlds in collision

No, this post is not about the book or thesis of Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky. It’s not about that kind of worlds, but it is about two worlds on collision course, throughout history, and in the very much ‘right now.’ Those two worlds are the world ‘ruled’ by the prince of darkness, and the world ruled by the King of kings of kings, the Holy One of Israel, the living God (blessed be He!).

God’s bare Truth can seem an impudent affront to the religious professional, that laborer in God’s vineyard who thinks he ‘is worthy of his hire’ (Luke 10:7), but to a minister of the Good News, a shepherd who ‘gives his life for the sheep’ (John 10:11) as does his Master, that bare Truth is ‘the treasure hidden in the field’ (Matthew 13:44) for the sake of which, he ‘has forsaken all, and followed the Lord’ (Luke 18:28).

The Body of Christ throughout the ages has seen plenty of in-fighting and strife. In fact, it had already reared its ugly head in apostolic times, and yes, even earlier when disciples grumbled against misuse of funds spent on Jesus (Mark 14:3-9), tried to jockey into positions of pre-eminence (Mark 10:35-40), or decided to abandon the call because the Master spoke outrageous things that they couldn’t accept (John 6:66).

But what did the Master say to expect? ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword’ (Matthew 10:34), and ‘a man's enemies will be the members of his own household’ (Matthew 10:36). ‘Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!’ (Matthew 18:7 KJV).

It really is a cause for sadness, that a man who loves the Lord, loves the Word, lives a simple life of purity, walks in God’s ways, in short, who ‘seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’ might be considered a threat by professional clergy and told essentially to conform to the current ‘teachings’ or move on, yet we find this happening repeatedly in the Church.

It’s not impossible for professional clergy to work closely, harmoniously, supportively and safely with members of ‘their’ flock who are shown to be anointed by the Holy Spirit for ministry. In fact, a good pastor seeks out among the flock those members, male and female, young and old, new Christians and veterans, Greeks and non-Greeks with whom he can share the ministry.

Of course, he can do this only if he himself is anointed for ministry, because the Spirit in him must be able to discern the same Spirit in them, which honestly reveals them to each other, for the Lord’s work.

It is only when ministers of the Gospel have decided that ‘they are it,’ that quickly or slowly they devolve into hirelings and false watchmen. God save us from this! Instead may He send us true shepherds, pastors, of His flock!

My example of a true shepherd is Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco (of blessed memory, who reposed on Christmas Day, 2005).
I remember one time when he was visiting our community, he stood in the doorway of the Gate Beautiful and cried out, ‘My children, come with us up to Mount Tabor, and see the Lord transfigured!’

He meant that we should not let the ordained clergy alone see Jesus face to face (in the Spirit) and serve Him alone, but that we should all come up!

On another occasion, walking among us in the ‘catacomb’ church of St. John the Forerunner, he spoke forcefully but with glistening, gentle eyes and a broad smile, ‘My children, you can do nearly everything that we priests can do! Join us in ministering to God’s people!’

Bishop Anthony did not scold, did not ‘guilt trip’ or belittle ‘his’ flock into taking action for Christ. He knew we are at all levels of maturity, commitment, and capacity. He merely loved us, and made us all feel what he felt in serving the Lord, and invited us all to join him and the presbyters and deacons who served with him. Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco, originally Greek bishop of the Dardanelles, may his memory be eternal!

This is what we do, we do what the Lord has laid on our hearts to do, without fear, without boasting, without regard for men’s opinions, but ‘in fear of God, with faith and hope, we draw near’ to the Lord who dwells in the midst of the praises of Israel, by giving our voices to Him and His people, by reading aloud the Gospel and the other God-breathed scriptures to people passing by in various public places.

No man gave us this work to do. Did we give it to ourselves? Well, I suppose you can think that, or think whatever you like. What does it look like when you follow the call and word of Jesus? I suppose it all depends on where you’re looking at us from.

What of worlds in collision?

Yes, the two worlds will at times collide, whether we are in the ‘world’ or in the confines of the Church, because the battle lines are drawn right down the middle of each—the world and the Church—and down the middle of each of us (as Solzhenitsyn writes).

Our task as followers of Jesus is simple.
Just respond when He calls us and says, ‘Follow Me!’

He will not fail to teach us how to walk beside Him faithfully, how to love Him with an undivided heart, and He will without doubt make us to be ‘fishers of men.’

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