WOW! I had to share with you below an excerpt from a blog entry entitled Confessions of an Ex Clergy Member by David D. Flowers on March 26, 2009. Brother David nails it as he explains the true heart of Christianity. You can click on the above link to read the entire article. It is fantastic!!!
Conclusion-The Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ
It has been almost three years now that my wife and I have ventured off into uncharted territory with the Lord. I must say… Christ has been faithful. He has provided our every need and so much more. We are blessed with great jobs, wonderful friends, and a Christ-centered church fellowship.
The last two years have been a tremendous time of rest from the many trials we endured over the previous few years. For the first time in our lives… there is little to no burden of religion upon our lives. It is in this time now… that Christ is purging me of my old pursuits. The Lord has been setting me free from religion’s chains. He has been working in me the natural faith of Christ.
What is the natural faith of Christ? It is life born out of being instead of doing. Christ’s life is burden free! He said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:30) Be careful that this verse has not fallen on deaf ears or become cliché to you. If your faith is causing you anger, frustration, disappointment, depression, burnout, or suicidal thoughts even… this is not Christ’s life. You are not being Christ. You are not drawing life from his Spirit within you. Instead, you are doing things, which you intend for Christ, out of the mortal “fleshly” life you have apart from the eternal Christ. I call these works born of the flesh… religion!
Religion is nothing more than outward works of the flesh that temporarily satisfy the soul, but ultimately lead to an empty riverbed of hopelessness. We need to see that there is no way our Lord is pleased in this selfish life. This life eventually is depleted along with physiological strength. Obviously, life that is born of flesh will end in a fleshly grave. However, life that is born of the Spirit leads to real Christ-fruit and treasures stored up in heaven. It is this kind of life that is able to endure the cross.
Christ lived so that you can live. Paul said, “I no longer live, but it is Christ living in me.” (Gal. 2:20) We must draw from this life. This comes in time and through trial and tribulation. We learn “to live is Christ”, as Paul said… so that we may experience the gain of dying.
In this case, we are to recognize that the flesh (i.e. old unregenerate man) has been crucified with Christ! Yes… temptation, and fleshly desires, and pursuits are still very much real. However, Christ’s life has defeated this power so that we may now choose his life that brings freedom. The Christian life is Christ’s life. Until we commit to learning this… we have not truly chosen the road of discipleship.
My present struggles are tied to this. I personally need the Lord to show me his true nature after I have walked in the flesh for a spell. It is almost as if I didn’t even realize I was doing so… but looking back… I know that I simply was not being mindful of Christ. This is why Paul said,
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Paul, (Col. 3:1-3)
I gratify the flesh because I am not walking in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16) I make matters worse by supposing that the Lord wants me to feel condemnation for my failure. Yet, I know this comes from the evil one. The Lord is on my side. He is for me indeed! He desires that I might walk in his life more and more. And instead of him feeling disappointed in me… his thoughts are fully set on me knowing the power of his resurrection! Christ and all of heaven cheers for me. For the Lord knows that his life is within me and that it is produced in every season that I face. This is the reason we are told to rejoice in all things. For in all things… Christ is there.
We must learn from Christ. All questions and concerns regarding our lives (i.e. family, work, play, etc.) and his church… are resolved in knowing him. There is nothing… and I mean nothing… that you should be pursuing besides Christ. Do you have a problem? Are you filled with many questions and very few answers? Are you trying to jump start your faith with 12 steps and “purpose-driven” products that are void of the centrality and supremacy of Christ? Maybe you are wondering what it’s going to take to see revolution blow through the church. Maybe you’re just trying to figure out what the Lord wants with you. Whatever the problem… Christ is the answer. Whatever the disease… Christ is the cure.
OK, you may be thinking, “I don’t even know what that means.” If any of you are left longing to understand how Christ can be the answer to all of our problems… then set your sights to learning from him. Learn of Christ through the Scriptures… learn of him through experience… learn of him through song… learn of him through trials… learn of him through study… learn of him through sorrow… learn of him through prayer… learn of him through community… learn of him through marriage… learn of him through work… learn of him through learning… learn of him in it all! Place all other pursuits aside. Let him be your one and only passion. Learn of the school of Christ. And this will equip you for every good work.
I pursued other passions in the past (e.g. teaching, writing, education, ministry, etc.) and I found that my heart was in the wrong place. I pursued these things instead of Christ.
“God shows us that our power is not a thing; it is simply Christ. Our power is not the strength to do things; rather, it is a Person. It is Christ who manifests himself in us, instead of our using Christ to display our good works.” – Watchman Nee
It was a hard thing to admit. Do I desire to replace Christ with a thing? By no means! Yet, this very thing became obvious to me. I found myself wanting and longing for everything but Christ and him alone. My life was a mixture of Christ’s life and works done in the flesh. My heart desired notoriety and a piece of fame. I had my way mapped out. I knew what I wanted and I knew how to get there. And the Lord interrupted my “passions” and held a mirror up to all the things I was pursuing outside of him. I was confronted with a question.
“Is it to some thing that I am devoted, or is it to secure for the Lord Jesus Christ His absolute centrality and supremacy?”
T. Austin Sparks
How long will we try to convince ourselves that it is Christ that we seek in all these things of men? When will we realize that Christ’s life is not found in things? The Spirit within us is reaching out for all things Christ! Yet, we attempt again and again to fill it with programs, passions, ministries, and movements. Will our purpose be something else besides knowing the power of the resurrection in Christ Jesus our Lord? Will we use up all of our mortal days attempting to fill our lives with dead things? Only Christ is living!
Therefore, those things, which are not born from the natural living faith of Christ, are born from the flesh and will only produce dead cold religion. Other religious people may admire you for these religious works done in the flesh, but the Holy Spirit is grieved. For he knows that you will only be satisfied in Christ.
The Apostle Paul’s purpose was not tent-making! It also wasn’t being a good itinerant worker and church planter. He writes of his purpose and leaves us with an example to follow.
“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Paul, Colossians 2:2,3
May our Christ not be “ill-defined”… but may he come to full expression in our lives. Let your Christianity be more than mere acceptance of forgiveness of sin and works of men. Let us walk in the power of the resurrected Christ! Let us take serious his example given to us in the Gospels. Too many have stopped short of this life.
I am convinced… if we are ever going to experience the life of Christ and enjoy the Spirit he has placed within us… if we are ever going to see his Bride fully prepared for the wedding banquet of the ages… we must press on to everything Christ!
When we are beginning to learn of the person and work of Christ through being Christ in all things and in every situation… his works will then naturally flow from our lives. Works born of his Spirit will spring forth from the well that never runs dry. May we allow the Lord to break our will for the release of his mighty Spirit of life through our earthly tabernacles. May we find the way of the cross a most satisfying death to embrace. For out of this death will come Christ’s life.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
Click on this LINK to read the entire article