One day I was reading a news report of an executive who stepped down from leading a large international company due to a 'personal crisis'. In later reports the executive told the interviewer that he reached a point in his life when he realized he had been driven in business for one core reason - ever since he was 12 years old he had been trying to please his father, chasing something to which he could never attain. When he realized that, the all-powerful drive to succeed disappeared, and he quit.
Many Christians and pastors are like the executive, trying to be personally affirmed, loved, accepted within and by that structure called 'church'. They chase what they think is God or what God wants, rather than actually knowing Him. We are to follow His voice and respond to that, not blindly chase what we think might be Him and hope He is pleased.
Some Christians never become a 'knower'. They are affirmed by keeping busy rather than knowing. They are affirmed in the chase, not having attained knowing the Father and Lord. They equate busy-ness with being righteous. Emotion has replaced the anointing so that many Christians can't perceive the Holy Spirit in their spirit. They are chasers in their believing, not knowers.
"This is eternal life: That they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3
And this is the rub, as they say
We should move from believing to knowing, which leads us to be affirmed by the Father Himself and by the Lord Himself because we know them. "Knowers" know that they know one day Jesus will stand up next to them and tell the Father, "I know them and they know me."
Hamlet said in his famous 'To be or not to be' soliloquy: "To die, to sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub."
The 'rub' was a reference to a game we might today call 'lawn bowling' in which an unevenness in the ground would alter or interfere with the path of the ball. That unevenness in the path was the 'rub'. Today we think of 'the rub' as an irritant, but in context it meant altering the path of the ball.
In this use, a believer starts along the path to becoming a knower, but something interferes with that path which takes them in a slightly new direction. But the action is so slow they never perceive they are going in another direction until the gap between 'believing' and 'knowing' is startlingly clear.
One day they wake up, years down the road, and realize they don't truly know the Father. They don't truly know the Lord Jesus. And they wonder, why? They wonder how they got there and are horrified at that truth.
Knowing the Father 'and Jesus Christ whom you have sent' is an individual effort, not a group event. It doesn't even involve a book, recording, web site, ministry or teaching. It doesn't involved a pastor, a teacher, a prophet or your best friend who led you to believing in the Lord. It is an individual effort, an individual walk. Anything that takes you from that instead of contributing to that, is 'the rub'.
The good, the bad, and the ugly of affirming someone
It was a Wednesday night service with about 1500 people in attendance, and I had a word (of knowledge) from the Lord for a woman (I didn't know who) in the congregation thinking about committing suicide that night. The Father was very specific, and I shared with the congregation what I heard Him by the Holy Spirit say:
"You were told by your mother when you were young that you weren't very pretty, and you weren't very smart, so you were going to have to work hard all your life. You took that statement to mean you were ugly, and that robbed you of hope. You became discouraged and angry at yourself, hating yourself. Discouragement led to despondency - a complete lack of hope. That led to depression and thoughts of hurting yourself. That has led to several suicide attempts. The Father and the Lord Jesus want you to know that was a lie, and the Father does have a plan for you...." and so on, as I repeated what I was hearing from Him that night.
The next week before the Wednesday night service I was walking in the hall and a woman stopped me and told me she was the one the Lord was talking about. She had gone to the service that night saying "Lord, if you don't have a word for me tonight I'm going to go home and kill myself once and for all." She showed me the scars on her wrists from years of cutting and suicide attempts. She said since I prayed (after giving that word) she had no more thoughts of suicide, knew she was loved by the Lord, actually knew Him, and was at peace for the first time since she was young. About 3 months later I saw her again, and she was still doing well.
She was affirmed in the negative as a child. With every look in the mirror, she believe it confirmed what her mother told her. She believed therefore that she was ugly. With every low grade in school, she was affirmed as not being very smart. With every party she wasn't invited to, with every club she wasn't asked to join, with everything she did or didn't do, it all conspired together to confirm she wasn't pretty nor smart - she was affirmed as an ugly girl with no future. So why not end it all and be done with it?
For her, 'coming to Jesus' and every teaching, every stream of the faith, every movement called God, was an effort to be healed, and that night she made the switch from being a believer to being a knower. 'Knowing' healed her.
When you were young, how were you affirmed? Have you similarly experienced 'the rub' of chasing movements of God or teachings or streams of the faith, but never truly being healed of those childhood hurts? Knowing the Father and Lord WILL heal those hurts. How to do that?
Paul prayed we would know the love that is beyond knowing, and I'll close the series starting there next week.
Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org