Occasional editorials written since 2001 

Passion yes, aggression no. Harry Potter All roads lead to God?  
Value of a soul. Homosexuality Passion of the Christ
Islam and Christianity  Love not the world Persecution coming
Biblical or secular worldview? Freewill offering Letter or Spirit?
Faith The sacred and non-sacred Test your self
Discernment The gospel of me Repentance
Sinking sand That awful four letter word Sin
When God offends. Walls, gates and electric fences The curse of pornography.

 

Passion yes. aggression, no.   

We are called to be passionate about Jesus. 

Never lukewarm, but passionate.

However there is a world of spiritual difference between passionate and aggressive and those at the receiving end know the difference only too well.

I think all disciples start off thinking aggressive is passionate, because aggressive comes naturally to us, but 'passionate' is a slow deep work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts.

James and John who turned out wonderfully well had to go through this stage in their development.. In Luke 9:53 we read about their reaction to the Samaritans would not receive Jesus whom they loved and followed.

"And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?"

Doubtless they believed this reaction to be true Godly passion for the things of God  Jesus however, knew differently. It was simply soulish spiritual aggression.

But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy menís lives but to save them."

It is wonderful to read John's writings and see how he evolved from an aggressive disciple into the passionate man of God.

He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.  John 2:8-11

John's brother James left no legacy in ink, but with blood. He was martyred for his faith. (Acts 12:2)

Who was more aggressive than the young disciple Peter? We read in John 18:10 of his natural reaction to an attack on the Jesus whom he loved and followed.

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priestís servant, and cut off his right ear.

Jesus did not congratulate him but told him to put his sword back into its sheath.  The word of God is the sword of the SPIRIT, not the sword of man, and when man uses the sword aggressively it brings damage not life.  The letter always kills because an aggressive soul wields it rather than the Spirit wielding it. 

It  is wonderful to read that - in His mercy - Jesus redeemed the damage that Peter's natural aggression caused. In Luke 22:51 we read..

And Jesus touched his ear and healed him

There was a period of several years when I knew that I was called to be a teacher. I knew that God had graciously given me a substantial understanding of His Kingdom, yet He was clearly not opening doors within His church for me to teach the understandings that He had given me.  

I resisted the temptation to blame 'the church' because I knew that God could open the door in an instant if He chose to. So eventually I prayed and asked why He was not opening doors. The response to my prayer did not come quickly, but perhaps a year later.  Then suddenly these words dropped quietly deep into my spirit.

"I will not let you change what you do not love'

I was shaken by this revelation. It was only as I was honest with myself that I began to realise that my passion and 'fire' for the Kingdom of God was merely spiritual aggression for 'the cause'  

As I re-read scripture and saw Jesus' reaction to the woman at the well, the adulteress, the corrupt tax collector in the tree I realised that although He brought them uncompromising truth, He brought that uncompromising truth with grace. This grace meant that those in great need of the truth were drawn to Him like a magnet because they felt safe around Him who was the Truth.

Only the aggressive Pharisees did not love Him.  They were aggressively guarding God's Word and because they were of a different spirit they did not recognise the Word become flesh and standing in their midst.  

Indeed I realised that only Jesus had the right to speak to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law as He did because He was willing to die for them.  

Slowly through prayer, my heart for those in need of a touch from Jesus has softened, is still softening, and will, I pray be softened until .. well until people see Jesus in my life and not just me.

Jesus used a South African missionary to Ireland to help change my life in this direction.  One evening he and his wife were coming to our home for dinner.  I would normally have prayed beforehand that my wife and I would be a blessing to them, but this time, to my surprise,  I found my heart crying out to God, 'Please let Joe be a blessing to me tonight'  I knew that this must be the Spirit of God preparing my heart for something that I needed to receive.

During the meal 'Joe' talked of how difficult it had been to find a church where they could settle into, as he had found two uncomfortable extremes at work.  Those with grace but sorely lacking in truth,  and, more commonly, those with truth but sorely lacking in grace.  He then quoted a verse that I had never really noticed before. John 1:17 

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

For the first time I really saw Christ's ministry clearly, and how I loved what I saw. It was like fresh air and liberty flooding in.  He was Grace made manifest and He was the Truth made manifest. To divide them was to divide Christ Himself.  I noticed that grace preceded truth, not visa versa. I realised that I could not represent - be an ambassador for, a living letter from - the Kingdom of God unless I lived on those twin tracks.

Some time later a Canadian couple stayed with us, and as they were going they gave us a small framed picture with the quote from 2nd Peter 3:18  Another verse I had never noticed before.

Always grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

There it was again. Grace and knowledge. With grace preceding again. 

A quick check on the computer showed how often the Spirit of God placed 'grace' in front of - and an integral part of - a blessing.  Grace and favour (Esther 2:17). Grace and glory (Psalm 84:10) Grace and supplication (Zechariah 12:10) Grace and apostleship (Romans 1:5) Grace and of the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17) Grace and peace (2nd Peter 1:2)

No one was more naturally spiritually aggressive than Saul, who of course became Paul.  Yet it is truly wonderful to see that it was he who was eventually able to pen the greatest exposition of Christian love that has ever been written.  1st Corinthians chapter 13.

When Paul wrote strong letters to the various churches teaching and correcting them, he always topped and tailed his letters with great grace from a Christ like heart.  Even to the troublesome church at Corinth we read of grace making the way for the truth that would follow..

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now I plead with you, brethren ...

The Lord's brother James - who matured from his early opposition to Jesus (John 7:5) into a greatly respected leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13) - wrote eloquently against spiritual aggression in brother Christians.

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath (aggression) of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  James 3:17

When God asked me to start a web site in the mid-90's I honestly had no idea that He would use it to carry the material that it now carries.  Perhaps if I had known fear might have stopped me!  Yet step by step web over the years the site has evolved as you now see it.

If in the site you sense a passion for Christ and His Kingdom then I am blessed. If you sense, in places, soulish aggression, then there I have failed.

But bear with me as I seek to do what Peter counsels. To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[see also The Pharisee spirit]

 

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