It’s been over thirty years ago that, while attending a two-week course in Irvine, California, I was privileged to attend services Calvary Chapel Irvine. Pastor Chuck Smith founded Calvary and served there as head pastor. Pastor Smith had the ability to draw an audience into a sermon taking them to places they’d never have imagined. I recall part of one of his sermons in which he spoke about Heaven. He illustrated Heaven as if it were Earth, divided up giving each person a share of land, which he calculated to be three acres. He said things like there won’t be plumbing in the house, because things will be perfect. What I have remembered about Pastor Smith’s sermon is that even if Heaven looked anything like Earth, it is very different. Perfect, for one thing. The physical presence of our Lord Y’shuaJesus is the most significant difference. And after our physical deaths, we who are saved though faith in Y’shuaJesus will experience Heaven as life in the presence of G-d.
There’s another kind of life after death. And we who are marked, having our names engraved in the Book of Life, are experiencing it right now. This life began when we responded to the call of the LORD. For our response was one of dying to our flesh and receiving a new life of the Spirit.
. . .now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:6.
From the time the Law was given to us on Mount Sinai, until the Cross, we were bound by the written Law. We were not certain of our afterlife. We were certain only of the overwhelming guilt that didn’t seem to come clean even with the sacrifices. We thought if G-d told us what we were to do, we could do it. Like children, we said, in effect, “I’ll be good, Father.” But we couldn’t. We needed something more. It took the Blood of Y’shuaJesus to wipe away the guilt and shame, to pay the price we simply couldn’t pay. We have now the Spirit, and the Law is written upon our hearts. We are saved. We are Genuine. We are Authentic.
Sure, we’ve from time to time fallen back into the flesh, into some sin or other. But we don’t stay in it. We see it for what it is, and move away from it. Things aren’t rigid anymore. There’s flexibility. We don’t have to fit into a mould, fit into a small rigid box. We are free to walk in the way the Spirit guides us. Free from condemnation.
This way of walking didn’t come easy for me. Call it legalism. It doesn’t have to be enforced by a church; it can be self-imposed. I must do this, or that, or . . . But I don’t have to be that way. That’s the freedom we have in Messiah. The freedom we have in the Spirit. It means we can serve G-d in a way that’s uniquely tailored to our personalities, our gifts, our talents.
There are time, however, in which we are called to stretch ourselves out of the comfortable, into other paths. We are promised, however, the Lord’s Lamp to guide our feet, His Light to guide our paths.
These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work. 1 Chron 4:23.
C.H. Spurgeon in Morning and Evening (June 03) uses this scripture to speak about service to Christ that is less than glamorous. He mentions that some are called to live in the country and not the city, as they might prefer.
I am reminded of the fellow in SLO with whom I once discussed St. Francis of Assisi. He said he was so very suited to be in a monastery but a friend said he could, and should, “make the world his monastery.” His life could be spent not doing what is comfortable for him, but what is not within his comfort zone.
For me, it’s helpful to know that the Lord won’t let us bite off more than we can chew. I’m a county boy at heart. I long for the wide-open range, the mountains, a long stretch of barren beach. A small town is okay, too. As I’ve said before, I’ve little use for cities. But, then here I am, a stone’s throw from Atlanta, Georgia. And I’ve accepted that it is this way for the moment. Praise the Lord, for when I am up to my neck in too much city, the Lord allows me to find times of refreshing, both physical and emotional/mental, with Him.