Inspired Study from Acts 8:29-36
Does anybody remember the Wonder Twins? That fictional cartoon duo that was from another planet that could turn into ANYTHING by putting their rings together and saying the famous line, “Wonder twin power activate!” (and their blue monkey sidekick). It was an entertaining cartoon of my era of upbringing to say the least (it's getting more comfortable saying that, lol), but I also know that many of my readers may know nothing of the duo. It's ok. Explaining their powers is enough to get into today's topic, obedience.
Just look at that word for a minute...
That's a weird word. It even sounds weird. But what is "weird" and how did you understand what I meant when I said that word? Well that brings us back to our word. Obey.
We have to not only agree to the definition of “weird”, but also commit ourselves into obediently following the rule of always using that definition when communicating in englis... Englsi... English. A set of characters, sounds and other rules we agree to corporately use to communicate ideas and intent in my home nation, the Texas (Texans will understand, lol).
Obedience is a necessary condition of “civility” in the manner in which we express it. But, arguably, even if we were able to arrive at a utopia like state of civility, it would all still hinge on individual and corporate obedience. So, as a question today, I would like to ask you, who are you obedient to?
Self or someone/something else?
The reality of our initially lost and carnal state is a pathetic choice between those two. So, we aspiring types will aim in some way to better self, exalt self, and incorporate self in the “best” (from their human, but ultimately, limited and individual perspective) self it can be. It takes Christ calling out to each of us multiple times while in the midst of such a vain and depraved state to bring us to the sobering reality that the gains of this world are futile and, when He finally gets through, we are compelled to salvation and the process of sanctification that should define the life of every Christian on the planet.
And this is a big but.
Like, the handicap sign isn't a wheel chair it's a butt, but...
Just like we not only have to agree to the definition of that “salvation" and "sanctification” as we receive it, we also have to obediently commit ourselves to following what those terms define for the believer's life, which is in the bible... enter the first verse...
That original word “said” or “told” is “επω” not “λεγω”. For those who don't read Greek, that translates to “ehpo” and “lego” respectively. The significance of this is that ehpo implies more of the tones of a command than lego (which is the relative word) and is commonly translated to the word “command” in the bible. Lego is simply to say or tell. So, one of the first things we must understand is that, we are not entering into a relationship with just a loving, compelling Father who loved us so much that He looked at us in the middle of the worst stages of our sin and gave up His ONLY earth begotten Son, we are entering into a relationship with a King of ALL kings who is All- Powerful, All-Knowing, and the Victor of a war you couldn't win with the BEST weapons in the galaxy. After salvation, being PURCHASED by the Blood of the Lamb that we might have life eternally WITH Him means just that, we are HIS PROPERTY. We belong to Him, and, in the words of another minister named, Sevin, “If you BUY something and it doesn't WORK you THROW IT IN THE TRASH” or get a replacement that does. God doesn't just ask our permission to use us after we become His children. He commands us and our obedient response does not earn us “cool points” it is the expected response a slave ought to give his Master. Thankfully, we serve a loving Master. Yet, the bible does mention virgins being left out of the Great Wedding because they did not keep their oil. These were not whores and harlots like Babylon, these were virgins. So disobedience to God's will for your life after the human declaration of “salvation” can lead to some “believers” (I call them “churchgoers”) losing their spot in the Great Wedding. We never initially chose Christ, because the bible says clearly, WE were Babylon, yet He cleansed us and made us new. Because of that truth, though we did not initially choose Christ, our state, faith and convictions require that we always respond to Him, not that we may get a great reward in the kingdom, but as evidence that we are part of it. This results in and requires obedience to the unctions of the Holy Spirit (John 3:6) and is the essential expression of the Christian faith in this world.
Furthermore, We see that it was not enough that Philip obeyed the Spirit once going from Jerusalem to Gaza, but now obeys again. I believe the reality of our conviction and faith is that these choices ought not be some uncommon or remarkable thing. Our connection with God through the Line He provided to us ought to birth in us not only the blessings of God (which we tend to focus on exclusively) but the responsibilities of God. We are to be the “Hands” and “Feet” of Christ right? So why are we acting like the “hands” and “feet” instead of His Hands and His Feet. That's what He meant when He said, “greater works shall ye do.” (John 14:12). Yet, from the same mouth he asked, “will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). And so we dance somewhere between the On/Off switch dynamic of being the biblical model of what a Christian is and the perverse and faithless generation we are.
The thing is, though it's impossible for us to make it real through all of our “trying to be a good Christian”, because we ALL sin and, daily, fall short of the glory of God (that's why His mercies are new EVERY morning and His grace is sufficient), it is completely a doable thing to walk the walk of Christ for real both individually and corporately. The fallacy that being a Perfect Christian is hard is a lie, for the truth of Christ is only best displayed in a transparent expression of our weaknesses. That is why Christ said, “My yoke is easy and My burdens are light” and to Paul in his account of his being caught up to the “Third Heaven” or Paradise in 2 Corinthians, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Now, that's a deep text so don't take it to mean that you can continue to sin and never grow so that God's grace can abound in the world. God gives us grace specifically so that we can grow, and He expects growth, for the Perfect Christian can only exist when we are true and transparent Christians; for Christ is already Perfect and He will not lead us into anything other than growth with and towards Him.
This brings me to another point and, ultimately, the reason that I felt led to title this portion of the series as I did. What if Philip would have said, “no,” to the voice of the Spirit in Jerusalem? Or even when he stood close by the eunuch's coach? The birth of the first and oldest Christian Church in history seems to have hinged upon his obedience to the Spirit in that fateful moment. Would the eunuch have even had a proper interpretation of the scriptures? Or had an opportunity to meet Jesus? I'm without a doubt certain that God's will is impossible to thwart and that before the foundation of the world, God knew that a man named Philip not only would be perfect for the job, but is perfect for a job that, spiritually, is already finished. However, that does not pull from the fact that we as humans have the burdensome task of making a choice in what we call the “present”, but is actually the revelatory process of finding out were we stood in a future that hasn't happened yet for us, yet already was finished in the realm of the eternal the moment that God uttered the infamous words, “Let there be light.” Why? Why use us at all if we fail constantly, lie terribly, and deceive only ourselves and other humans with our own vanities? Because He loves us and chose to include us in a story so beautiful and unique that no man could have possibly dreamt it up.
But what do you choose?
The ability to choose requires something inside of us that is unique to only us as living creatures on this planet, a soul. I call it the “toggle switch”, because as God explained it to me, the soul is essentially just that. You see, when God created us in His image one of the things He did was make us tripartite (Soul, body, and Spirit), not in the same exact way as He is tripartite (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit), yet tripartite none the less. We who are born again have the revival of this “Spirit” part of us that is “dead” because of the sins of Adam and revived by the renewing of our minds (what God has shown me to be the physical link for each human between this realm and the next, i.e. the part of the soul that translates spiritual intent in to physical manifestation) into a perpetually submissive position to the Lordship of Christ. Therefore, those of us who submit to the Spirit will find that we will start to resemble the Holy Spirit inside of us, God. Those of us who only submit to our own thoughts, vain intentions or the thoughts and vain intentions of others will find we will begin to resemble the only other spirit originally inside of us, the body/flesh. Others still do much hurt to themselves and this world by inviting more ominous and malicious forces to abide within them and lord over them... Who is your wonder twin? The Most High or someone/something else? Who's “power” are you activating? God's? Yours? Someone/something else? We see what Philip's resolve was. After walking with the Messiah for 3 ½ years, he was so completely convinced and submitted to the Spirit of God that, he not only heard His voice multiple times, but responded in obedience multiple times. What spirit are you obeying when you do the things you do? And, more poignantly, who is motivating your soul to action in this world, for where such a wonderful treasure is (your actions in this world and their results), there also will your heart be (Matthew 6:21).