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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Mind of Christ: The Precious King of a Precious Kingdom

I cannot settle on one favorite passage in Scripture, it would be impossible.
A life verse, some are able to choose, but as soon as I choose one I think of another
it would have to be. A couple of my favorites though are the following:

Hbr 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

Phl 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

This morning, I was reading also about the Preciousness of Jesus Christ, described
as our "Precious cornerstone" in I Peter:

2:4 To whom coming, [as unto] a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious,
1Pe 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a Chief Corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

His blood is described as precious [1 pet 1:19] and our faith is described so [2 Pet 1:1] and in a number of other instances, Jesus, the Word, our faith and belief are described such.

Now, it may seem that these two trains of thought may be racing in different directions, but as I read and considered this morning, the two are critically related:
The first two deal with the fact that when we are "born again", born from above,
from Heaven, when the Holy Spirit comes to abide in us through BELIEF in Jesus'
atoning act on Golgotha, when by the blood of Jesus Christ we enter in to eternal
Life, and also into the Mind of Christ and the Life of Christ, as His Children,
we enter then [and also] into a new Citizenship, a new "Nation" a new "Conversation".
I have often felt rather uncomfortable in the world since receiving Jesus Christ and
believing in Him. Even in the beginning, I knew that most of the world did not understand a new life in Christ. I was hungry for the Word of God, and have remained so most of my life since then which is now 22 years. I left a life and lifestyle which while with great burdens, such as a daughter with a life threatening illness, single parenthood, and raising a son as well while fighting off the vultures of academia, still was easy to understand and negotiate, and we had what we needed readily. I did not have to sit and think about whether what I was teaching or doing was right, or face constant decisions whether to stand for anything, much less a faith in God, but rather I dressed, acted lived and negotiated life in the ways everyone else does. Well at least most.

As time proceeded however, and I grew in my faith and the Word, my comfort level with the world was altered: in time, I would leave a number of 'conventions': I left my
career and world view, I home-schooled my children after I had spent my own life in many arenas of public education, I found myself often even in Church at odds with the
worldly views and practices which have crept into today's Church because they just didn't line up with God's Word, and God was constantly calling all of us to "come ye out and be ye separate" and that "friendship with the world is enmity with God."

I have seen that worked out in a number of ways over the years: for some it means not going to movies, for others not going to certain movies. For some it means wearing dresses of a set length, a certain kind of head covering, avoiding defined activities,
not watching tv, homeschooling vs public and the list becomes endless. When I was younger and raising my children, and still younger in the LORD, I was fairly strict myself about what we did, watched, ate or saw. Over the years however (I will eventually get to the point), I learned the difference between liberty and legalism.Most have it wrong leaning too far between the poles and either ignoring Biblical commands or making them a burden no one can bear. All this most have heard before.

Real Separation though, to the point we are in the world but not OF the world, means
that we begin to come into our "Citizenship" or "Conversation" becomes apparent as we receive the King of that new heavenly realm, the reign of God, and agree willingly and in love to become subject to Him and His ways, commands, and 'legislation'.
When the words Peter used are understood, we comprehend that our 'conversation' is no
longer here- it is in eternity. Many of us understood this perfunctorily or metaphorically in the beginning, but if we grow in Christ, we must begin to understand it from the heart and 'put it on'. That new conversation or citizenship means we belong in another place, a better place, where no one can rationalize away our justice, where Love really has won and sits on a Throne in the countenance of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life [Jn 14:6] and where all is made whole, well, and the promise of perfect rest, perfect Shabbat rest is accomplished for all time.

I prayed not long ago for the LORD to help me be eternally minded. This is the true
putting on of the Mind of Christ, not just 'changing opinions'. It has nothing to do with being more moral [there are Buddhists and Islamics more moral than some Christians], or only voting Republican, or watching Christian programming, it has to do with becoming apart of a Kingdom with a King, which has been since before time and
lasts eternally, in which the way we see things must change.

We do not belong in this world when we willingly encounter Jesus in the great exchange: His life for ours, ours for His. Even from the beginning, we understand things very differently, although not at once. When Christ first welcomes us into His
Kingdom, we over overwhelmed with joy and relief. Our sins have been paid for, we do
not have to strive to be beautiful, perfect, excellent or anything else. The work was His and not ours. Over the years, we allow Him, if we are walking right to change us through surrender, through obeying His Word, and learning to walk in the Holy Spirit. If our doctrine is in error, we need only to pray and He becomes the teacher and corrects, always gently never with the condemnation which men love so much. If we choose froward ways, and we all do, too often disobeying in our weakness, He gives us strength, does through us what we cannot [I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me], and when the sorrows and despair of life overwhelm, we have somewhere and someone who will bear it with us and for us. We cannot trade that Love for what this fading tearing world has to offer.

A Citizen of No Mean Country

What does it mean though, to be a 'citizen' of the Kingdom of Heaven? Heaven is not
as tangible as we would like it to be on earth, in fact Hell seems to preoccupy earth far more often. The Apostle Paul in defending himself as a 'freeborn' Roman once
remarked that he was a 'citizen of no mean city' or no 'base' or reviled city.
Act 21
:39 But Paul said, I am a man [which am] a Jew of Tarsus, [a city] in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

What did he mean? He was only referring to his Roman citizenship to which he had been born, invoking the law to stop his mistreatment. If Paul considered Cilicia "no mean City", though, how much more magnificent and less base is our freeborn status into the Kingdom of God, the City of God?

The tenets of the city I live in are not always pleasant. People are not always treated fairly. There are murders, violence, unfair elections, prejudices, troubles and trials just like in every other city on earth. But there, never to dissolve or
die, is the presence of utter Joy and peace-bliss beyond comprehension, reunion and victory. We are given a little glimpse in Scripture as to how wondrous it will be as
all things are made new. We will not hurt or ache or cry. No love will end. And all the sufferings we experienced here, some of which are overwhelming us in despair,
will not even be remembered-they will have been things Jesus used to bring about His will and our rest, no matter how horrible they seem now. There is nothing He will not turn to the good of the believer: nothing.

To wear that Citizenship and conversation like a garment, though will lift us above the constant concern we have about 'fitting in' or quandaries about whether we should obey Christ or men. Whether we swear an oath or not is not about being legalistic
and old fashion: it is about who our allegiance is too. If our allegiance is to Christ we must understand that the 'principalities and powers' in the world are not going to be pleased at our obeying the Final Authority, the Alpha and Omega over theirs. It is not about rebellion or an unwillingness to obey man's law: we are in truth expected to obey earthly laws more than other people, to do things decently and in order, and to 'obey the higher powers' because they are ordained of God. Far from rebellion, when we do reach a discrepancy between obeying Christ and the commands of His Kingdom over those of nations, it should be with trembling, for while we will have no peace or rest unless we obey Christ, failure to obey men still has an effect, and sometimes an unpleasant one. All the Martyred saints who died at stake, stoned to death, murdered for their faith found this to be the case. John Bunyan did nothing more than refuse to be bound by Anglican ordination in the preaching of the Gospel, Ana Jans would not recant her testimony and lost her life and child to a burning pyre, and thousands through history have died at the hands of earthly religion or governments, kissing the stake they were burned on as merely the door to their Continuing City.

We have all nodded in acquiescence to this 'citizenship' under Christ's Reign.
But to really wear it in all adornment and holiness, helps us to rise above the mire
this world is. I reached a point a few years ago, when so much bad had happened in my life, things unspeakable, that I was at the point of losing my faith. What I could not understand was why God would allow others to hurt us in such deep ways, whenHe promised to protect us. I could not really choose unbelief, because I had seentoo many unadulterated miracles and mysteries and even felt God's presence often during my life. I came to understand though, that the rain does fall on the good and bad alike, that too often even awesomely horrifying things happen to God's children, but this does not indicate that we are not His: it indicates that the world which perpetrates the crime upon us is NOT HIS. They are the ones without healing, Salvation and citizenship in the eternal. We also have to take account of our own obedience: we can get hurt if we do not obey, or if we are out of the way. And sometimes, seemingly unfairly, when other people do not obey, we can be the unjust victim. If we fall into the hands of thieves or worse, though, even this turns to the good of Heaven's citizen, turning to their benefit and His Plan.

The Precious Cornerstone

This new Kingdom, though, the country of our greatest allegiance, is desireable not
merely because we find peace and rest when we walk fully in it, but because the King
of it is a Precious King. As I read the above passages this morning: this is what filled me with joy and love in an aching and aging body: my Precious King, His precious blood which bought my eternal citizenship, the precious faith he has given meas a gift. Precious in scripture describes the Word of God, our souls, jewels, first fruits, and us in the sight of those who love us. The dictionary defines the word as :
pre·cious (prĕsh'əs) pronunciation

1. Of high cost or worth; valuable.
2. Highly esteemed; cherished.
3. Dear; beloved.
4. Affectedly dainty or overrefined: precious mannerisms.
5. Informal. Thoroughgoing; unmitigated: a precious mess.


One who is dear or beloved; a darling.

The word comes from Middle English, French and Latin meaning 'price': and we were bought with one. The Hebrew is Meged, meaning excellent, and the Greek timios
meaning of a great price, honored, esteemed and dear. [blueletterbible.com]
The reason we can put on that new Kingdom and citizenship, where death and sin cannot reign, and where we are promised victory against the Anakim of despair and death in this world, is that we have a King who is Precious: consider the great Price. If we
lose sight of how costly our conversation in Heaven is to Him, how precious, excellent, esteemed and dear His blood, then we slip back into the allegiances and alliances of the nations on earth, a poor substitute with no promise.

If the mind of Christ is framed by any first thing, it is our love and allegiance to the One who bought for us our eternal place in His House forever, who bought our very souls, who purchased us in His excellence and not ours. Mocked, ridiculed, beaten, broken, humiliated, mistreated starved or killed, we stand in a new birthright, as
subjects of a blood bought and excellent Kingdom. As the next choice confronts you in this world regarding what is right or wrong: recall the Continuing City and nation
you are called to, and already walk in if you will, and the Mind of Christ will being to form in you.
2. 84.