One of my first ideas for starting a blog (before I ever did so) had a great running title; it was: ‘The Early Memoirs of a Lay Minister.’
The concept for it was rather intrinsic in the title: it would primarily be testimonial in nature. I would discuss certain incidents and instances that I have experienced, and been privy to, but use stories from my own life to bring the Gospel to light.
The lives of those who know God are testaments of His dealings with real people. Our lives, themselves, may be the message of the Gospel played out.
Abraham was the father of those of faith, and God called him a prophet – yet we have no record even in scripture of any sermon ever preached by Abraham. Rather, we have a brief sketch of his life, which is not even near as comprehensive as a modern-day biography. Yet the life of Abraham (as compiled in writing by the Prophet Moses) is, itself, scripture and paints an astounding picture of the Gospel for us.
Likewise, much of the bible, both Old, and New Testament are biographical, revealing the dealings of God with man.
And let me be the first to encourage you (if no one has yet) who are in Christ with this revelation: your life – as a believer in Christ is a testimony of the Gospel. The degree of His work in your life will be (as it was with Abraham) in accordance with the proportion of faith at work in your life. Faith… because without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6); without faith, we cannot enter a relationship with Him.
Without mutual respect friendship cannot exist between two people. One may have respect for the other, but without respect returned it is a one-sided relationship. So it is with God – He sent His Son to die for us (by which we know He is invested in a relationship with us) – but if we heed not His sacrifice and have no faith in His Son, we are in no relationship.
One of my principal relationships as a child was with a person who did not reciprocate my respect… in fact, the relationship was abusive. I used to fawn over my oldest brother; six years older than me, what little brother wouldn’t think he was cool?
My eldest brother for some of the very formative parts of my life was somewhat (or I saw him to be) raising me. My mom worked three jobs while my dad went back to school; they and their three kids lived for some time in an RV. After graduating from the University, my dad took a job travelling for a few years; the result was – as I mentioned – that for all intents and purposes my eldest brother became the head of the household.
I sought to be like my brother though he had a violent temper, and was a rebel running to the drug scene. I sought to be like him; his approval, or disapproval of things largely became mine. With him I took my first ‘drag’ of a cigarette (to his raucous laughter at my coughing for probably 5 minutes (I was probably 6)), smoked my first ‘bowl’… probably had my first taste of alcohol with him, etc.
I had become the disciple of a wayward fiend. I plunged myself into the attitudes that he carried, sought to take up his outlook on life, dress the way he dressed, develop the types of friends he had, etc.
Now, obviously, that’s not to way he was responsible for the rebellion of my youth… in fact, I believed for some reason – deep down inside of me – that I had a call of God on my life. Even when I had taken up a stoner’s lifestyle (if it can be called that under the age of 15) for myself, I believed that one day I would return to Christ and one day be a minister.
Now, I don’t mean to go into much further detail, but I began discussing this part of my life for a reason. I repented at the age of 15, and since then have been striving to live sold out for God, but years later I found that I was still somewhat snared by the idolatry I had had in looking up to my brother. I still looked up to him… and this caused issues in my thinking, and my attitudes. In fact, I realized that I was snared in my thinking towards him… I recall counseling with an anointed man of God who pointed it out (this was some time later in my adult life).
I had looked up to my brother for so long, that my mind had developed habits of looking to him – thinking of him. Surely, it was idolatry. I asked this minister who was counselling with me: “How do I break free from this idolatry?”
He said to me: “LOVE GOD MORE.” Of course, he didn’t shout those three words, in fact as I recall he spoke them in a fairly low voice… but they echo in my soul to this day. How do we overcome anything our mind or heart elevates above God? We need to love God more. More than the idol, more than ourselves.
Wow; simple, profound… and seemingly impossible. “Love God more?!” How do I do that?! At that point in my life, I had already committed my life as fully to God as I knew how to do.
Then a thought occurred to me – and it must have been the Holy Spirit. The thought was this: ‘What if JESUS had been my brother?‘ I thought of it… I don’t think I ever considered Christ taking the role of ‘brother’ to me… not in that sense. The first instance I thought of was my first drag of a cigarette – Jesus would never have pressured me to do that; would never have encouraged my drug use, or any other thing.
It occurred to me to think through my relationship with my brother, but in my mind, and affections to replace my brother with Jesus (Love God more). Realizing that I had set a role model who had become an idol (not appropriate), I replaced my brother with God, Himself in my affections.
One of the things that this did for me (besides beginning the process of freeing me from a lot of bondage) was that it established a pertinent Gospel principal in my life. A pertinent Gospel principal that I was not even really aware of.
The ministry of John the Baptist was [chiefly] the ministry of repentance – the prophet declared that when he [John] came, he would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Or as the angel Gabriel interpreted it in Luke 1:17 ‘…to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and THE DISOBEDIENT TO THE WISDOM OF THE JUST…’
My entire paradigm about role-models began to change. I began studying the lives of anointed ministers of God, and looking up to them. Men are flawed, certainly… but our souls long to have fathers, and they ought to be the JUST – those who at least are striving for righteousness, not the rebellious.
I continue to study the lives of ministers, and what I look for is not any certain doctrinal, or denominational stance, BUT THE ANOINTING (Love God more).
Now, I may be running a bit long for some readers, but I’ll briefly tie this in to the need of our society to turn to the wisdom of the just. One of the greatest reasons for the decline of our culture, all of the rising violence, and perversion lies within the revelation I have opened here, for as it is written: The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted. (Ps 12:8).