Let’s be clear. A gospel that does not progressively awaken us to the truth that Christ’s sacrifice is all sufficient is not the gospel of the Kingdom Christ preached. A gospel message that teaches we can gain God’s favour by anything in addition to faith in His Son will ultimately produce dysfunctional disciples in whom ‘self’ is king, and Christ is servant. The perverted and mixed gospel I spoke about in my last post is producing self-focused believers obsessed with a God whose primary function is to meet their every need.
Sadly I’ve recently witnessed this unsavory fruit in believers who openly present themselves as mature disciples. It’s not a pretty sight. It has left me grieved in spirit and sorrowful about the delusion so many are walking in.
What are the outcomes of being under a delusion? One of them is blindness to the truth that’s before our own eyes.
At the time when Jesus walked on earth the great temple in Jerusalem was Israel’s pride and showpiece. A magnificent and imposing building, it was considered sacred by the Jewish people. It was holy ground, hallowed by all Israel as the place where God’s glory rested. The temple was the centerpiece of Jewish culture, history and religion. With its priests, sacrifice and ritual and intrinsically connected as it was to the Mosaic Law, it was a tangible daily reminder of Jewish identity.
Into this context Jesus boldly declares something greater than the temple has appeared (Matt. 12:6). The shock value in His statement cannot be underestimated. In the eyes of the Jewish authorities and the people, nothing was greater than their temple, not even the might of the whole Roman Empire.
(In 70 AD the Romans would lay siege to Jerusalem and destroy their exalted temple, as prophesied by Jesus (Luke 21:6))
But Jesus hasn’t finished. Not long after, He singles out one of Israel’s ancient prophets Jonah, announcing that something greater is now in their midst. He then points them to the great wisdom of their ancient King Solomon, son of David, and again declares something greater is now before them (Matt. 12:41,42).
What, or who, could be greater than their revered prophets? Who or what could surpass the mighty Davidic Kingdom and the legendary court of King Solomon? Every Israelite grew up believing David’s Kingdom, led by one of his descendants, would rise again and in that day Israel would subdue her enemies and reign among the nations.
The Law, the Prophets and the Kings! Within just a few hours Jesus had alluded to the three essential pillars on which Jewish society was founded and declared each one of them inferior to the something greater He had come to show them.
One stood within touching distance of them who was immeasurably greater than all of these and whose Kingdom was already operating in front of their eyes, yet they were blind, deaf and ignorant. Their religion was centered on themselves. It was built around their lifestyle, their well-being, their needs.
Lately I have seen fellow believers demonstrate the same blindness to the something greater taking place right in front of them. While they sat waiting for God to ‘meet their needs’ someone desperately hungry for God was being touched by the Holy Spirit just inches away. Christ was being revealed, the gospel being received and the miracle of new birth taking place. The Kingdom was being manifested before their eyes. But those who considered themselves mature and spiritual Christ-followers could not perceive it, nor did they value it.
In April 2014 in this post I wrote:
We are fond of declaring “it’s not about me, it’s about Him”, while we still fail to see the forest for the trees. Words originally uttered in the Spirit quickly become ‘christianese’ (a very dead language) unless infused with Holy Spirit revelation. It’s better not to speak if all we are speaking is vain repetition (Matt. 6:7). Newsflash: it really IS about Christ. It’s not about us, never has been, never will be.
There is something greater ready to be manifested right before us, and we can’t afford to miss it. The Kingdom is among us. The Holy Spirit is at work. Christ the King is present with His people. The Kingdom does not come with observation; it is not a spectator sport, it is not entertainment, it is not our church, our traditions, our national history or our political preferences.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for it is they who shall see God. If we truly want to perceive the something greater, it will take a humbling and brokenness of heart to open our eyes. Man-centered religion focuses us on ourselves above all else. The pure gospel of Christ frees us from self to be part of the something greater only perceived by those hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Christ).
The Kingdom is at hand, which means it is available, within our reach, and has come upon us. But it remains hidden in plain sight for those blinded by the false gospel of ‘self-first’. Only a continual revelation of Christ to our hearts and minds can heal us of our love for self, and only the pure gospel of the Kingdom unctioned by the Spirit of God can reveal Christ to us.
Friends, it’s so very easy, and so very comfortable, to fall into the delusion that our needs, our lives, our happiness are front and center in God’s purposes. God help us to humbly present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices that we may be Life bearers to those who are desperately searching for something greater than the world and self-focused religion can offer.
© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2017. All rights reserved. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.