Joined to the Head Part 1

We are likely familiar with the idea of Jesus being the head of the body.

15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:15-18 (NKJV)

In the above passage it is clear that all things point to Jesus. Everything was created both by Him and for Him. This includes the visible and invisible. While we may recognize that the creatures in the spirit realm are part of the invisible, another aspect to consider is that the structure of relationships is part of the invisible realm Jesus created.

While not obvious or visible Jesus in fact created the ways we can relate to Him. Look at what He says. 15  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 (NKJV)

Here Jesus is speaking to the 11 (Judas has left to betray Him) and He identifies a change in His relationship to them. What is clear in the text is the relationship changed over time. I believe this is Jesus desire for all of us and it is not automatic, particularly given His warning in Matthew 7 that people could appear to follow Him but not really know Him (Matt. 7:21-23).

Jesus has built into the structure of relationships that when we seek Him and choose to spend time with Him we have the privilege of becoming His friend. I think if we could see in the spirit realm we would be able to see a change in us, we would know when we moved from servant to friend.

What would others see if they could look at us?

Walking in the Word

We are likely familiar with the exhortation to walk in the Spirit yet there is a need to see the link between walking in the Spirit and our walk in the word, the scriptures.

1  I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. 2  I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. Psalm 138:1-2 (NKJV)

Here we are told that the Father has exalted His word above His name. Many want to be led by the Spirit, as do I, yet our walk in the Spirit needs to be anchored in His word. To use an analogy think of our walk in the Spirit like a kite flying high in the sky. The kite can soar, dip, flutter, swing, all because it is anchored by the person flying it, in this case, the scriptures. Release the kite and it will soon crash.

In a similar manner many have crashed over the years because they exalted their experience over the scriptures. The scriptures do not tell us whom to marry nor what house or car to buy. They do however give us principles by which to weigh what we are hearing or sensing in our decision making.

There is an expression, ‘you can’t give what you don’t have.’ I have learned some things over the years and can share them with others. In terms of our individual walk it is harder to be led by the Spirit if we have not taken the time to sow the scriptures into our lives. The Spirit says to us;

17  Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to my knowledge; 18  For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, Proverbs 22:17-18 (NKJV)

15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:15-16 (NKJV)

So, as we seek to soar in the Spirit may we deeply value first being anchored in His word.

Do You See What I See?

There is an expression used in relation to positions in conflict resolution, ‘Where you stand depends on where you sit.’ In essence, how we see things depends on the perspective from which we are looking at them. Jesus addressed perspective on many occasions and we will look at one example.

The context for the passage below is Jesus being tired and hungry, resting at Jacob’s well while the disciples headed to town for food and Jesus then ministering to the one who has become known as the ‘Samaritan Woman.’ The disciples return as Jesus is still talking with the woman.

31  In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32  But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33  Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” 34  Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35  Do you not say, ‘’There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” John 4:31-35 (NKJV)

The disciples misunderstood a few things here, as I suspect most of us would have.

Since culturally they didn’t associate with Samaritans the disciples were experiencing an internal conflict. From where they sat Jesus should not be talking to the woman, yet He was their leader and they were being discipled by Him so they didn’t challenge what He was doing. They had experienced enough to know He was up to something but they didn’t see it.

Jesus informed them that His encounter with the woman strengthened Him because she responded to truth. There was spiritual food and natural food to draw from. I’m sure Jesus still ate later on. Jesus then used another natural event, harvest time to make a further point. While naturally they were not in harvest time Jesus was telling them to see differently. There was a more important harvest, one that harvested people for His kingdom, and it was ready to be reaped.

It is clear that Jesus intent in this brief encounter was to teach them rather than confuse them. He highlighted their internal conflict to broaden their perspective. So when we see something in His kingdom that doesn’t align with how we think and see perhaps where we stand is connected to where we are sitting and we need to ask Jesus if He wants us to change chairs.  

There Stands One Among You

The source of this phrase is John the Baptist speaking of Jesus.

26  John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.” John 1:26 (NKJV)

The word translated ‘know’ is the Greek verb oida and means to, “Know fully; understand, recognize (The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary).

The reality here was that Jesus was walking among the people unnoticed. While He was publicly identified when John baptized Him a short time later, even after this only a few recognized who He really was. For example, long before Peter had his experience (Matt. 16) Nathaniel declared His deity.

49  Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” John 1:49 (NKJV)

Like Peter, Nathaniel received this by revelation. In minutes he went from sarcastic doubter (Can anything good come out of Nazareth?) to believer and follower. He now knew the one John had referred to and his heart had shifted.

In a similar manner One is walking among us all the time, walking in our culture, walking in our days, walking in our relationships. As we go about our daily lives He desires to be involved in our daily decisions and actions. Do we understand, recognize and follow Him?

Walk in the Spirit

Scripture encourages us in many ways. One encouragement Paul provides is as follows.

16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)

In our Christian walk the Holy Spirit is our leader. His job is to lead, ours is to follow. At times we will be on a well-established trail with clearly marked directions. At other times the trail will be faint or very difficult to follow. As a general principle we need to always be paying attention to His leading to walk with Him. We need to hear when He tells us to pause, to turn, to press on, to stop and rest.

His leading will not always make logical sense. Years ago a fellow shared a story of how the Holy Spirit trained him to listen. He said he was directed to drive around town and given a sense of when to turn and where. This may seem like it was a pointless exercise but he said he learned to be attentive to the Holy Spirit leading him. The benefit came when one day he was driving and had a sudden sense to stop as he came to a green light. He hit the brakes and someone came tearing through the red light and would have broadsided him had he not stopped.

I’m not suggesting this is the way He will train all of us. Just as good coaches develop individualized plans based on the developmental needs of their players, so He knows what we need to learn and seeks to draw us into His specific training program for our lives. I know in my walk it is more about my thought life and speech. At times I have a sense, ‘say this’ or ‘don’t say that.’ I find when I listen I experience His peace resting in and on me.

While peace is one indicator if we want a broader look at how well we are doing He has provided us with a diagnostic tool in Gal. 5:19-23. Here Paul shows the fruit of walking after the flesh in contrast to walking after the Spirit. While we may be in and out of either way of walking at times, the more we submit to His leading the deeper the habit of waling with Him becomes established in our lives and the more of His fruit we manifest.

Recently I was walking with a younger man on an established trail and I was breaking off some overhanging branches that were in the way. I explained why and he joined me. Whenever I hike, even if I don’t think I will ever be on the trail again, I habitually clear branches and remove small rocks and sticks. I believe it is a basic function of leadership to improve the path for others. In a similar manner the Holy Spirit is always leading us in ways to better clear and establish the path of our lives. He wants us to work with Him to remove branches that will entangle us or rocks and sticks that may trip us up. So, let’s focus on staying in step with Him.