by David Brenneman
I often think on Andrew and what the Gospel's say of him and his introducing Peter to Jesus. Our time in this world isnt to be spent being ingrown but to be an outward expression of our decision concerning the most important question every human faces: the choice to be face to face with Jesus, agreeing with Him that we need what He's offering in order to save our souls.
Being ingrown isn't a good place to be. Nobody looks at a toe and gets all excited about having an ingrown toenail. Any body part that is malformed and turns inward often takes time, energy and other bodily resources away from the rest of the body in order to deal with this abnormality. When any body part isn't doing it's proper part within the body there's consequences for the rest of the body.
Paul goes to great lengths in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 12 on how the Spirit is the one who sets people in the body of Christ as He sees fit. The Spirit of God knows the new believer's best contribution to the body of Christ way more than they would. Scriptures says elsewhere that it is the Lord who knows the hearts of mankind. He sifts them, He is already there, all knowing.
Was reading of 'new' identities that seem to be coming up out of the woodwork and in part, this isn't a new thing. People believing they are something that physically they aren't so they intentionally do something to their body in order to be this way that their minds say they are. To be clear...this is a VERY clear manifistation of demon posession. We have several examples of what demons do to people that Jesus healed them of. The Bible says in Genesis that we are created in the image of God, as some describe it aptly, we are image bearer's of God. To mutiliate the body intentionally is to try to imply that God 'got it wrong' about us. From everything from gender altering things to this form of bodily mutilation change, it's demonic. Every single person doing this physically WILL find themselves as they were intended to be by God when they stand before Him. Nobody will retain these things that are done to them because they cannot change the spirit of that was created in them by God. All life comes from God and that life is unalterable by any human entity or by way of chemical changes or by way of surgeries. We are all born of two things...a physical body and a spiritual body.
Being ingrown...let's get back to that. Much can be said on the other but the point being...it's God who establishes who people are and even they cannot do anything to 'correct' God. God does not make mistakes. In the book of John it's written that Jesus was the Light that came into the world and the world rejected Him because He testified to their deeds that those deeds were evil. That they loved the darkness rather than the light.
Being ingrown can also happen within the Church. Churches quite often die because of being ingrown. Not wanting to pursue missions or outreach outside of the group they have. Not wanting change that is of the Spirit of God in order to reach others for Christ.
Individuals can become ingrown because of the hurts of others inflicted upon them. Again, I know, from personal experience. Fears and confrontations have often caused me to withdraw from people. To find a 'safe' place to be rather than deal with the situations. To look for other people or situations that make me feel more comfortable and to help me forget those pains. We cannot be in a world of those who love the darkness rather than the light, be a Believer in Christ, and not be put in situations whereby we have to stare down fear or stare down confrontations in Christ Jesus. We are instructed to put on the whole armor of God in the book of Ephesians not for our health, not to just make us look good spiritually, it's because we are in a battle.
We read in 2 Corinthians 7 the following (5-7) "For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts on the outside, fears inside. But God, who comforts the discouraged, comforted us by the arrival of Titus; and not only by his arrival, but by the comfort with which he was comforted among you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more."
Paul was also well aquinted with fears as well as conflicts. Paul didn't run from them. He wouldn't have taught the Ephesians in Chapter 6 about the whole armor of God if he was the kind to run away. He taught that we battle not against flesh and blood in 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.".
We cannot escape the war until we are safe in Heaven with Jesus at the end of our time here on Earth for those of us who have placed their faith and trust in Christ for salvation.
Our sanctification is also wrought in God. 2 Thessalonians 4:3a it says that it is God's will...our santification. We cause the Spirit of God to go to extra measures to turn us back around to God's Will when we are intentionally going a way that is not for us to be going...even turning inward away from the world's conflicts against us.
We read in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His workmanship. We read elsewhere that He is the potter we are the clay. We don't tell Jesus how we are to be formed, we do not tell Him what we will and won't do because of our wants and desires. Yet we always do when we become ingrown.
When we embrace and won't let go of pains and hurts rather than give them to Jesus to deal with...we hurt ourselves all the more.
When we surround ourselves in 'safe' to us places and people rather than where God was taking us...we hurt oursleves all the more.
We are taught by Jesus to pray that it be His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven...when we forget this...we hurt ourselves all the more.
To get it right means to get in line with what God's doing in us. By following through with our calling in Christ Jesus to be who we are to be in the body of Christ, not us trying to be a body part in Christ we are not and never were meant to be. Through the pain of this or that inflicted upon us by others we often want to become something else in order to avoid those kinds of people or those kinds of situations.
To get it right means denying self, taking up our own cross and following Him. It will mean facing those who cause us distress and fears.
"But I'm happy now! I no longer have to go through all that! That MUST be from God right?" Not really. There's a few times in our lives when struggles and strife aren't there. One is when indeed God says to those afflicting us to back off, the other is when Satan and his minions have us right where he wants us by our own choosing. He really won't bother those who are doing what he wanted after all out of us.
I'm reminded of a gospel song of Charley Pride. "This Highway Leads to Glory".
"We'd go to church on Sunday and I'd hear the preacher say If you want to see my Jesus you gotta stay on the King's highway. This highway leads to glory but it's no easy ride. You'll find all kinds of exits can throw you off yoru stride. Some will lead to fortune and others lead to fame. Some will lead you so far wrong you won't return again. Oh you just stay between the white lines, obey all the right signs. Keep your eyes open all the time. Oh you just stay between the white lines. Nevery pass o're the yellow lines and you'll get to Heaven right on time.
Satan's on this highway he walks on every side. Trying to flag you down, don't give him a ride. He'll try to stop you at just any cost. You may stop too long and your soul may be lost."
We don't like conflicts and we don't like being hurt. Jesus said that all those who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus would face persecution, would face suffering. It's on that list of Jesus's "Facts of Spiritual Life".
Success can be a good thing and can be a bad thing. Paul prayed several times for whatever it was to be taken from him and all those times God said no.
God's power in Him was sufficient. God's power was perfected in Paul's weaknesses, so Paul resolved to boast in his weaknesses that the world would know Jesus all the more. In other words you may say "I can't!" just as Paul did, and in Christ you're being taught to say instead "Let's go....in Christ...we can.".
The worst part of being ingrown is that you can get used to that pain. You can get comfortable with it and eventually ignore it. What's second worst is when you finally acknowledge the need to do something about it...it can and likely will be very painful to back track to where the condition is not there anymore. It's going to cause a need for humility.
When you look at where you are...are you where God really wants you to be or are you where YOU really want to be?
Are you really a different body part in the body of Christ trying to be something else?
I am now reminded of another song...as is often the case... "Open the eyes of my heart Lord, Open the eyes of my heart...I want to see you."
We often close our eyes in order to avoid what's coming or what is true in front of us.
We are not following the Will of God when we are out to make ourselves what we want to be in this world.
If you're finding happiness only in what the world has to offer...then you'd likely be good to step back and wonder why.
We're supposed to be like Andrew and to point people to Jesus. Not point them to themselves and how to make themselves a better person.
We were brought to Jesus who did not leave us as He found us, but began that work in us to make us more like Him...that sanctification process.
We were supposed to always be pointing others to Jesus so that He can do that in them as well...their santification process.
Getting it right means full obedience to what the Spirit is wanting you to be in Christ...to be the BEST body part that He set you in the body of Christ to be.
He knows you better than you know you. He knows every part of you that needs to go and what needs to stay in order to make you more like Jesus.
He most certainly doesn't need our help in figuring that out. He doesn't require pointers on how to do His job. We actualy grieve the Spirit when we are resisting His will and purpose for us in Christ Jesus.
It's either us or Jesus on the Throne of our Hearts. We can never be ingrown within if Jesus is the one leading us to do the Father's will for us. When we're in that perfect place of being in the center of God's Will...we can never ever get life wrong.
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