Out of Order
As I was praying about the blog this week I kept thinking of the phrase “out of order” and then as I was writing a sign with those very words for a machine at work, God confirmed His direction. I don't have some interesting anecdote that accompanies this word; what I do have is a question.
Say that you went to the supermarket to buy milk only to find that there was an “out of order” sign prominently displayed on the door to the cooler. Would you still buy the milk? Would you take it home and give it to your family, your kids? Of course not! You would leave the store and go to another one to ensure that you found fresh milk, safe milk, for your family. I know that it's a no-brainer but track with me for a moment. You wouldn't feed your family from an out-of-order cooler but are you leading them from an out-of-order life?
There are many instances in scripture of lives lived out of order but the one that is burning on my heart is with Peter in Matthew 26:40-41, “Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Couldn't you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” We know that Peter loved Jesus. I truly believe that the disciples knew that something was up that night. I'm not saying that they knew what was going to transpire over the next few days but Jesus told them Himself that His soul was “crushed with grief to the point of death” and He asked them to keep watch with Him. When I attempt to put myself in the position of someone that I deeply care about asking me to keep watch with them I would not be snuggling into the comfiest place I could find as soon as they turn their back to fall asleep. I would try to stay up and keep watch. I would try to stay awake for my friend.
I know that Peter didn't fall asleep out of unconcern, Jesus said Himself that his spirit was willing. The word that is translated as willing here is translated as eager in Romans. In other words, his spirit was eager to do as his Savior requested, his body, on the other hand, was weak and the weakness in his body overcame the eagerness of his spirit to obey and he fell asleep. He was out of order. His spirit should have been in the lead, but his weak flesh was instead. I don't blame Peter, though I'm sure he blamed himself, he didn't have the Holy Spirit yet to empower him, that happened later (John 20:22).
Peter was experiencing a Romans 7 dilemma. Speaking of Romans 7...I'm generally not a proponent of the Message translation of the Bible. I have nothing against it per se but I believe if you're going to read, your primary source of information should be a different translation. With that said, I do own a Message translation and there are times when I feel led to read and/or look up a specific scripture in it. Romans 7 was one of those times.
“I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decided not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by influence of sin to do something totally different.”
-Romans 7:17-25 MSG
Thank God the answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord! Without Him we are out of order Without Him our flesh calls the shots. But with Him...with Him, we have been freed from the power of sin and death! (Rom 8:2) We have something that Peter did not, we have the power of the Holy Spirit!
So back to the out-of-order cooler and its spoiled milk. Whether or not you are a leader in title, you are one in influence. We all have people that look up to us, whether we are aware of it or not. We all have people that are following behind and if our lives are out of order we are giving them spoiled milk, so to speak.
“I don't just do what is best for me; I do what I best for others so that many may be saved, And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:33-11:1 NLT
If I've said it once, I've said it a million times, this life is not our own. It's not about us anymore! It's about Him! It's about bringing glory and honor to His great name! We were bought with a price. The precious blood of the Lamb was shed for you, for me. We were commissioned to be the example to others, for us to walk a path that is safe for them to follow. Jesus made the way but it is up to us whether we hammer our sinful nature into the cross and leave it there to die.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives.”
-Galatians 5:24-25 NLT
It's your job to nail them to the cross, no one can do it for you. No prayer line or fire tunnel is going to crucify your flesh. No altar call is going to hammer the nails in. You are the responsible party. But here is the good news, you are victorious because of the blood of Jesus. Because Jesus hung on the cross we don't have to, but because He hung on the cross our sinful nature can! Hallelujah! I am free! I am no longer a slave to sin! I am free to be a slave unto righteousness, for my spirit to call the shots and for my flesh to get in line, for my life to function in order, rather than out of it.
Will my flesh still try to usurp the Spirit's authority? Yup, this isn't a once-and-done procedure—this is deciding to climb up on the cross every day, to crucify it, again and again, to die daily. But what a marvelous privilege that we can! Crucifixion was an ugly business, it was gruesome and painful and slow. It would be silly to expect the crucifixion of our flesh to look any different. It's going to hurt, climb up there anyway. Praise Jesus that He made a way for us to be free. Praise Him all the way up to your own Golgotha and worship as the nails are driven in. We are free! Hallelujah! We are free indeed!
Written by Amanda Strauser