One definition of a pioneer frontiersman is someone who gets shot in the back with arrows. The message of the cross is certainly not new, but for some people this book is too radical…is too Christian…compared to what we hear every Sunday in many Christian churches.
I would counter by saying that radically extreme Christianity produces the most balanced, healthy, and sane lives when lived in harmony with the highest levels of the natural moral law contained within a God-composed journey of faith.
The four gospels, the books of Acts, the letters to the churches, and the book of Revelation define Christianity.
The words of the New Testament define Christian principles and practices (Jn. 10:35).
It is certainly understandable that as the gospel message in the first-century went out from Jerusalem to the pagan, polytheistic, idol-worshipping cultures of the Greco-Roman world, that the purity of the message would become diluted, garbled, and challenged through this enormously complex synthesis between the higher ways of God and the worldly mindset of established conventional normalcy.
Christians sharing their testimony and the gospel message with family and friends today confront this same universal difficulty.
Romans chapter 16 gives us a window into the close personal friendships that Paul was able to form over his career as a missionary evangelist, which I think could also have been similar full closing chapters to each of the other epistles to the various churches founded by Paul with the help and companionship of Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, and others.
If we could personally meet and talk with Abraham, Moses, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Esther, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, Peter, John, Philip, James, and Paul…to name only a few…we would probably discover each of them to be among the most interesting, engaging, and balanced personalities in history.
Jesus said in John 14:12…”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.”
The reality of this statement seems unachievable according to the limits of horizontally conventional thinking.
But in a God-composed adventure of faith, angels are sent to open prison doors in the middle of the night (Acts 5:19; 12:7), we can be relocated in a moment of time (Acts 8:39-40), and God can use us to raise the dead (Acts 9:39-41).
If anything, within the current context of our limited and constrained Christian expression of the miraculous, the message of this book is tempered and understated in its call to committed discipleship in relation to the “latter rain” works of the early first-century church (Acts 2:15-21)…that we may see start to come to life in the end-times.
One of the most important things in our Christian lives is to discover that God is faithful. The means that the method God has chosen and creatively invented…to do this… is through a biblical-quality journey of faith for each one of us.
But there are some things even God cannot do. God cannot make square circles. God cannot make two plus two equal five. God cannot make married bachelors. God cannot draw with a pencil-and- paper a one-ended stick.
In a world with people having free-will choice to follow God or to push Him aside and follow our own way, God cannot overcome willful unbelief and our determination to place faith in ourselves alone.
To create an environment where people willingly follow God through a walk of faith that matures into a personal relationship, the direct opposite reality of going our own way in self-reliance must be fully in-play.
The delicate balance between belief and unbelief in our complex world is a spiritual engineering feat of incredible skill requiring the clearest proactive foresight and the most brilliant advance planning.
The pitfall of going our own way…in business and in life…is the subject of the next chapter.