As we parted company last time, we were challenged to ask ourselves if we were Hi-Fi or Low-Fi followers of Christ. A Hi-Fi follower is a person in whom the Holy Spirit consistently and powerfully, produces the mind, the love, the faith and peace of Jesus Christ. These characteristics must be seen in our words and actions in order to bring revelation of and glory to God.
On the other had, Low-Fi followers would be those who profess to be followers of Jesus, yet live lives very little different from those who do not follow Christ. To say being a high-fidelity believer is preferred by God, is an understatement of the highest degree, for we are commanded to be of the highest fidelity. In spite of this command, the word of God clearly delineates the danger of falling into a low-fidelity life. Jesus Himself spoke to this in Mark 7:6-8. For our discussion today I would like to focus on II Timothy 2, beginning with verses 11-13.
This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
The word for “faithless” means to lack marital fidelity; in essence to have committed or be committing spiritual adultery. For us, in whom the Holy Spirit is to have dominion, admitting our propensity toward being unfaithful to Christ–through omission, ignorance, neglect or disobedience, ought not to be to difficult. Yet let us not focus on our weakness, but Christ’s faithfulness in us.
We already know Christ’s presence in us, by the Holy Spirit, produces miraculous results in the way of Christ’s character and righteous actions through our lives. By this “excellence of the power”, which is “of God and not of us” (II Corinthians 4:7), we also experience miracles through our faith. These testify to the awesome power of God. Remarkably these miracles are seen in the midst of fantastically difficult circumstances. These circumstance are necessary to produce obedience commensurate to our faith in God.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-10) We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
The results to this have been awesome in the sight of men through out the ages. We see this truth recorded in Hebrews 11:30-34
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
In spite of these great victories, we must regard the reciprocal nature of the faithfulness of Christ’s followers and the dire circumstances they are in. We seldom have one without the other, in fact both are necessary in producing glory for God. Mighty miracles, preaching with anointing amidst threats or peril, and loving in the midst of assault, by nature produce more of Christ’s character in us and glory for God. Simply put, the trouble produces a positive response from our lives, which invites more trouble, which produces more of Christ in us. When God finds us faithful, we can be sure we will face more peril; as it is the blessed wine press sqeezing out the sweetness of the Christ-life in us. Yahoo!!!!!! Or is it Yeah?
(2 Corinthians 4:11) For we who live [as faithful fools, willingly submitting to God in all situations] are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
I think we understand that this does not always mean we will always be in death producing situations. Often in our time of Christian maturation,”being delivered to death”, is seen in dying daily and denying ourselves in front of others or in private. Yet we must not forget that Paul was literally in death producing circumstances daily, and most of the followers of Christ outside of America and the Western world are as well. In spite of this, Jesus commands us to “leap for joy”, when we encounter persecution and difficulty as a response to our faithful following; as the trial brings forth a visible manifestation of Jesus life through our obedience. Are you shouting Yahoo!!!!! Yet?
This is the reason we must truly count the cost when professing Christ, for more than just He and the holy angels take note. Those who see in the enemies kingdom will respond, with ferocity.
(Hebrews 11:35-40) Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Suffering deprivations and more deprivations will be the lot for many of those who would walk as “faithful fools”, yet the word of God holds them in the highest of esteem as those “of whom the world was not worthy”. Tradition tells us the one who was “sawn in two” was none other than Isaiah the prophet; the very same prophet who saw the Lord “high and lifted up” and record in greater detail the sufferings of Christ, than any other prophet. Why did he choose Christ? Why would anyone who could suffered so choose Christ? It’s pretty simple really and written in to the word of God; as seen in Moses… “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God” rather than “enjoying the passing pleasures of sin” and “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches” than anything the world could produce (Hebrews 11:25-26).
Moses decided that holding on to Christ was THE treasure of this life, and no amount of suffering would pull Him from the Lord. We must acknowledged this same truth, understanding that being a “faithful fool” will bring about similar trials and pain. Let’s return to the passage we began with in II Timothy 2, but finish with verses 8-11…
“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory“.
As we have come to find in other portions of scripture, Paul’s being a faithful fool produced extreme hardship, eventually leading to his own beheading. Even though Paul, like all those who died in Christ, counted “the reproaches of Christ greater riches” than anything the world could produce, he had another reason for being a “faithful fool”; the sake of the elect.
In my last blog, we discussed how discipleship needs those who are not just teaching the truth (academically), but also manifesting the truth in their lives. Paul says, his endurance of all things, is for the sake of those who follow Jesus by following him. This is two-fold. In the first place, if a leader is struck by trial and falls away, it is likely to happen in those who follow him. Paul decided he would not be used by the enemy as crowbar to separate anyone from Christ.
Yet secondly those very same followers he is speaking of, were an inspiration to Him (by the Holy Spirit), when the trial and pain would wear him down. In those times he would remind himself of the riches of Christ in their lives, as a result of the Christ-life squeezed from him in the trials. Their growing faithful foolishness encouraged him.
Yes, it is true, imprisonment, deprivation, perils, pain, lost, and hardship await those who are “faithful fools”, but if we endure unto the completion of God’s will in our lives, we will no longer need to esteem the riches of Christ as greater than anything this world can produce. Then we will be immersed in the riches of Christ for all eternity (Read Ephesians 2:1-7, especially 6-7). That may seem foolish, ridiculous, asinine and crazy to the people of this old world, but to us it produces a very LOUD… YAHOOOOOO!!!!!