13 January 2011 (Chamashee/Teruah)|
Day #303, 5934 AM
Have You Found the Right One?
"I was born a Wesleyan and I'll die a Wesleyan!" a Methodist once told me. And as far as I know, he did, faithful to his label. But if he ever expected to find a heaven full of Wesleyans when he died, he would have got a rude surprise.
How we love our labels! They take on a life and power of their own even if they have no objective reality in the spiritual dimension. It used to be arrogantly said in my own country that God was an Englishman. Closer to home was the claim that the Church of England was the Conservative Party at prayer, though I doubt that is true now.
Yes, people are proud of their labels. They wear them like medals. One Baptist told me that he loved John the Baptist because he was a Baptist. These days, it seems, God has acquired some skin pigmentation too: "God is black (or white) so I'm proud to be black (or white)" - such people suffer from spiritual melaninitis. And then there are those who are proud they belong to no denomination at all, and call themselves independents. Mind you, they wear the label 'Independent' or 'Independent Fundamentalist' with pride too. Then there are those who go one stage further who not only are proud of their denomination but who boldly assert that it's the only true one and that all others are tumbling into hell. And if you look really carefully, you might find amongst the bullrushes someone who has totally lost it and believes he is God.
Everywhere you look you will find conceited, intractable people who will say that they were born this or that and that that is the way they will die too. One man, I recall, chose to die as a thief on a cross but the other lost his label of shame and accompanied His Saviour into Paradise (Lk.23:39-43).
The funny thing is, when you genuinely enter the mystery of Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus), all the labels seem to vanish:
None of this is to deny who you were before, nor what you may be classified as on your passport or ID card, nor is it a demand that you suddenly become unisexual or asexual. What it is saying is that you are to discard all the old labels by which you distinguished yourself from others (Wesleyan, Anglican, Catholic, Copt, Jew, Greek, Gentile, Muslim, etc.) and are to now identfy yourself with the One whom you have "put on". And once you do, it destroys all the old Úlitist genetic or cultural claim-to-fame lineages that people are so proud of! There are no 'master races' in Messiah!
"For you are all sons of Elohim (God) through faith (active and obedient trusting) in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus). For as many of you as were baptized into Messiah (Christ) have put on Messiah (Christ). There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus). And if you are Messiah's (Christ's), then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:26-29, NKJV).
Once you are IN Christ you are also the seed of Abraham - you belong to His family. Indeed - and this is the real pride-crusher - Abraham is saying that you can't be a part of his family, or of Israel's, unless you truly belong to Christ! To be IN Christ (authentically trusting in Him and obeying His Torah) is to be an Israelite - it has nothing to do with your lineage. If you are a genetic descendant of Abraham or Jacob (which is hard to establish anyway these days), all well and good, but that in itself does not qualify you for the Kingdom of Heaven. You see, there are no Jews in Heaven either. Messianic Evangelical Jews, Messianic Evangelical Englishmen, Messianic Evangelical Afro-Americans, Messianic Evangelical Chinamen, and Messianic Evangelical ex-Wesleans amd ex-Anglicans, yes.
How about 'Messianic-Evangelical'? Isn't that a chauvanistic label too? It could well become one if we aren't careful. However, we are not a part of a Messianic-Evangelical 'Club' or master race - to be 'Messianic' means we obey Messiah's Torah and to be 'Evangelical' means we believe salvation is through grace alone. Messianic-Evangelical isn't a club, church or assembly - it's an inner condition with an outer response or lifestyle. Some of you, whom I have never met, could well be one. The bottom line is that we belong to Christ and are the children of Abraham.
Labels are not infrequently the result of pride, and pride is the cause of a fall (Prov.16:18). Grow out of your label. Grow into Christ and put His on.