Here in the Village we have mens’ and ladies’ meetings on most Saturday mornings. Sometimes they’ll be corporate meetings where all the men of the Village come together, but most of the time they’re “clan” meetings (we’ve divided the Village up into several small groups consisting of 4–5 households, which we affectionately call “clans”, so that we can more easily take care of each other).
During a mens’ meeting several weeks ago, we were discussing the spiritual warfare that the people of God are (or at least, should be) in.
I’d been feeling pretty heavy that morning because of some things I’d heard about and seen that were affecting some young people, and some adults as well, in the village, so I began to talk about fighting against letting darkness into the Church, and about being in a spiritual war. Some of the other men chimed in and we had a great discussion about being alert to the fact that we are in a war, and not being complacent.
It was a good exhortation.
And I hated it.
I felt like we were saying things that needed to be said and giving a good call to action, but this heaviness descended on the meeting, especially on the younger guys, and I didn’t know what to do to bring life back. I realized that the teenagers were probably feeling that it was a “the old farts are telling us we can’t have any fun” kind of meeting.
Most of the older men had to leave before the meeting ended, so there ended up being just a few of us left, mostly the teens. In an attempt to reach out to the younger guys, I told them that I didn’t want to sit around and talk about the bad things all the time; I wanted them to know the reason I got all fired up about the bad things, the why behind our fight, which is having fellowship with God. We talked for a couple minutes about some of the experiences we’ve had where we really felt the presence of God strongly, and I noticed how much the younger guys’ eyes lit up.
I felt like God told me to pay attention to that.
Later on, while thinking about all that had happened, God pointed me to this scripture:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2, NAS
Sometimes, I’m dense. And that just didn’t make much sense to me in the context of what I was looking for. But later on, everything clicked.
You see, there is a need for exhortation. There’s a need for shoring each other up, encouraging each other, and sometimes even rebuking each other. There’s a need to fight against the wiles of the devil, and the things of the world coming into the Body of Christ. It’s necessary that we are “not conformed to this world,” but that’s not the most important part of that verse.
The most important part of that verse is the part that says:
“…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
It’s not just the fact that there is something to come out of, but the most amazing fact that there is something to go into! We get to be transformed! We get to prove what the will of God is!
We need to talk about the cost, and make sure that we calculate it–Christ even tells us to do that, and says that no builder attempts to build a tower without first sitting down and calculating the cost. But we shouldn’t obsess over the cost. There’s always a cost when you go to buy something–but you’re paying that cost because you believe that the purchase is worth it!
Look at this:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the feild, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Matthew 13:44–46, NAS
When that merchant sold all he had to buy that pearl, it didn’t say that he did so begrudgingly; “Geez. Can’t believe I had to sell all of that. Ah well. I guess I can build up my treasures again. Stupid pearl.”
No, you get the sense he is ecstatic about that pearl, and can’t wait to get everything sold so he can buy it! This is what he’s been looking for his whole life!
We should never hold up the cost more than the Pearl of Great Price; I should always hold up the Pearl higher.
Yes, there is a cost, and yes, it costs everything.
But the cost is worth it.
The reason those young mens’ eyes lit up when we talked about the presence of God is because they got their eyes off the overwhelming cost, and onto the overwhelming Reason for the cost–Jesus Christ!
We need to keep our priorities straight. If we lose sight of what we’re running this race for, why we’re enduring the hardships and struggles that come, and fighting the good fight, what’s the purpose?
If we put all the priority on “the don’ts”, on keeping the things of the world out, on denying ourselves, on avoiding darkness–even though all of those things are good and neccessary–then what we’re doing is telling the people we’re trying to encourage a false message. We’re saying, “Ok, here’s the Pearl, but you’ll have to give up this, and this, and this. Oh yeah, you’ll have to give that up, too. Sorry.”
But that is not our message. Our message should be:
“Who cares what you have to give up!? You get to have the Pearl! You found It! That’s worth everything!”