Trued

Trued

“We need to be trued,” she said.
“Trued?” I asked.
“Trued,” she said. “It’s an old construction word meaning everything has to be in line before you can build on it.”

I called a dear older friend yesterday to tell her an event had been re-scheduled. She has just come back from spending several weeks alone, resting in the Lord.
“I’m so glad you called! Let me get my notebook. I thought this was just for me, but the Lord said it’s for more than me. It’s for you. It’s for His church.”
When she came back and picked up the phone this is part of what she said:

“We are the temple. We are the living stones and Christ is the cornerstone, yes? Well, we need to be careful that our foundations are true to the cornerstone. We all need to be in alignment with Jesus Christ. It won’t do to get in line with whatever stone you are near hoping they are true. Every stone must be trued with the cornerstone.”

“He is talking to me about stones,” she went on, “About cobble stones, about building stones, about precious stones, about polished and engraved stones, about prospecting for gold nuggets the size of eggs. This is a season of building. Personal building first — then building together — but we must become true to the cornerstone and nothing but the cornerstone.”

I remember a hugely impressive stone I saw a few months ago. We stood in a tunnel under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and touched an enormous stone about 11 1/2 feet high and 41 feet long. They called it a “master course stone” and it was a foundation stone for the western wall of the temple area where Jesus was brought as a baby, where his parents found him talking to the learned men while still a child, where he drove the money-changers and merchants out, where he taught, and where he wept when he saw its future. This stone was so perfectly dressed, with every tiny bit of extraneous rock chiseled off, that no mortar was needed to hold the massive walls and buildings together (we were told the temple was probably three times taller than the Dome of the Rock which dominates the Temple Mount now) but this also made it possible for the Romans to dismantle the temple in 70 A.D. just as Jesus predicted. The old temple was torn down within a generation of his resurrection. God doesn’t live there anymore; the dwelling place of God is now in mankind -his adopted sons and daughters.

The stone we stood beside sat on bedrock and was almost as big as a bus, but when it was laid even this giant master course foundation stone had to be moved and adjusted until it was in perfect alignment with the cornerstone.

Another illustration of being in alignment came through Susanne who commented on an earlier post this week. She included this quote:

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”
― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

These words written by Mr. Tozer reminded me of this story:

I once sang with an amateur orchestra made up of members with widely varying skills. (It included a gracious group of experienced musicians who mentored young players.) At rehearsal I found the tuning somewhat disorienting. As I walked across the stage in front of the orchestra pit (it was a concert of scenes from opera) I could hear the pitch gradually rise slightly from one side to the other. This was the problem: the young musicians tuned to each other rather than to the piano which was on stage right. (Since a piano was included in the work and its pitch cannot be easily changed, the instruments needed to tune to it rather than the oboe this time.)  At any rate, the concert master rushed in, having arrived late, and picked up the problem with a discerning ear honed by years of experience. He supervised the re-tuning of the instruments and everything was back in order.

Both stories give the same message. When the stones are all lined up with the cornerstone the building has integrity and stability. When the instruments of the orchestra, which all have their unique qualities, are tuned to the same pitch, even though each instrument plays a different part, the result is harmonious unity. When the Church, the universal Church, is in alignment with Jesus Christ, our cornerstone, we are in alignment with each other. We are in tune with each other. We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord.

The Church is not a man-made edifice, nor is it a group of people aligned to a particular doctrinal emphasis or administrative style or methodology or personality. The Church is the body of Christ with all of  its members intact. The Church is me and the Church is you trued to Jesus Christ.

The Church is Christ in me and Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The Church is made up of living stones with Christ as its head -an organic, breathing,  growing and moving force of love against which the gates of hell cannot prevail.

You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.

 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.  Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
    chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
    will never be disgraced.”

Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.”

 And,

“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
    the rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. ( 1 Peter 2:4-9)

We are obviously not in unity of the faith yet. We need each other, because going it alone is a sure way to lose perspective. We need the concert masters who are part of the orchestra (and not soloists!) who can keep us tuned to the Maestro/Master Musician and in time with Him, so we will be in tune and in time with each other. We need the whole orchestra playing together without rivalry over which section is the greatest. We need the builders who keep their eyes on Christ and help us stay true and in line with  Him, (and not themselves!) because Jesus showed us who the Father really is.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16) (emphasis mine)

We need a reformation.

Outside the walls
Outside the walls

5 thoughts on “Trued

  1. Susanne Schuberth (Germany)

    You are right, we need a reformation. A heart reformation, that is.

    Just a few examples on how “the truth in love” has been pronounced before…

    The People of Israel Confess Their Sin
    “But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” (Neh 9:28-31 – ESV)

    “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed.” (Jer 48:10)

    “How do you say, ‘We are heroes and mighty men of war’?
    The destroyer of Moab and his cities has come up, and the choicest of his young men have gone down to slaughter, declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts. The calamity of Moab is near at hand, and his affliction hastens swiftly.” (Jer 48:14-16)

    John the Baptist:
    “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Mt 3:7-8 – ESV)

    JESUS:
    “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt 12:34-37)

    Paul:
    “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Cor 16:22-24)

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    1. Hi Susanne. I took time to pray about your post before responding.

      At first I groaned thinking, oh boy, here come more Old Testament verses giving permission for “prophets” to declare doom and gloom and God-will-get-you-for-that.

      Since this post was about aligning with Jesus I choose to pay close attention to his words to the disciples who wanted to misuse their gifts to call down fire on those who did not receive them gladly because they disagreed on religious practises. The story is told in Luke 9:52-56

      And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village. (Some manuscripts add and he said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy people’s lives but to save them.”)

      Clearly the passage I quoted in the post states that the purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and shepherds is to build the Church, not to curse it.

      When I first chose to believe and raised my hand and said “the sinner’s prayer” it was out of fear of God’s punishment. I may have been “in the camp” but it was not a happy relationship. My prayers were mostly “Please don’t hurt me.” How this attitude must have hurt Abba. In those days I could understand my friend who dared to say out loud, “It’s as if God is saying, ‘Love me or die.’” I had to let go of that image of God and eventually I came to know Him as the God who loves. I wrote about it here:
      https://charispsallo.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/god-is-good/

      After sometime thinking about your post though, and noticing you included quotes from Jesus and Paul, I cannot deny that Jesus himself, who was the epitome of love said some very harsh things. Matthew 23 is a good example of his exasperation with religious people who really, really ticked him off. He was not “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” in these altercations. But these words were never directed at followers -or seekers- of Christ. The woes and warnings were directed at religious leaders who misused their positions to block the way of seekers.

      Verse 13, for example “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

      Some people become upset at the mention of the wrath of God, but I don’t think a person can truly love without wanting to protect the one they love from those who would harm them. Most of us become livid with wrath when someone threatens our children with harm. Jesus had no problem showing righteous anger in the temple when he tossed over the tables. Why? Because they stood in the way of those he loved, the innocent. They were turning faith and worship into profit and self-aggrandizement and using others for their own ends. They were blocking the way to the kingdom of heaven.

      But here’s the thing: Jesus was willing to lay down his life for these same people. Paul, as well, said he would consider giving up his own salvation if it meant the ones caught in religious rules and exploitation could be set free. We cannot bring harsh warnings of dire consequences without self-sacrificing love, nor without telling them about the “insteads.” -God’s alternatives to the things that aren’t working.

      New Testament prophets are called to build up the church. They are called to proclaim what God plans to do in place of the plans of the enemy of our souls, who wants to tear us down and tear us apart. That is also speaking the truth in love. Lining up with Jesus means paying attention to His mandate which He read in the synagogue in Nazareth, saying that the prophecy had been fulfilled in their hearing:.
      1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
      because the Lord has anointed me
      to proclaim good news to the poor.
      He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
      to proclaim freedom for the captives
      and release from darkness for the prisoners,
      2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
      and the day of vengeance of our God,
      to comfort all who mourn,
      3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
      to bestow on them a crown of beauty
      instead of ashes,
      the oil of joy
      instead of mourning,
      and a garment of praise
      instead of a spirit of despair.
      They will be called oaks of righteousness,
      a planting of the Lord
      for the display of his splendor… (Isaiah 61)

      Sometimes speaking the truth in love may involve harsh warnings -like screaming at someone to get out of the way of a moving bus (it might even involve tackling) but harshness is not the usual manner of Holy Spirit, who is characterized by the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and moderation.(Gal. 6) Paul talks about nurturing the church in Thessalonika like a gentle mother. (1 Thess. 2:7)

      No doubt the church has been rife with those described in James 3 and 4:
      But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3:14-16)

      and in James 4:
      What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

      (James 3 also warns that New Testament teachers of grace, like the old teachers of the law, will experience a harsher assessment because of the weight of responsibility on them. They need to treat their calling extremely carefully.)

      Although there are many abuses, and sectarian “hedges” and “berms” may serve to protect their influence, I also see many fine humble, wise people who seek to be in line with Jesus Christ, and who accept the help of other members in the body who point to Him and not themselves. Just this year I saw a demonstration of unity and an outpouring of love in a church that meets in a particular building in a particular town, which spread to the Church around the world. For me, it was a glimpse of what the Church can be. And it was beautiful!

      So, I ask you, Susanne, what do you perceive to be the “insteads?” What are God’s plans for a glorious universal church?

      Like

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