Genesis 22:1-19

Over the years the Lord has permitted me to mull over certain issues. A frequent theme has had to do with how the person of Christ is revealed to the human heart and how this revelation equips us and establishes our authority. As one who has done a fair amount of both following and leading within the body of Christ, I think often about the nature of authority; where it comes form and how it develops. Today’s passage highlighted for me what I have come to think of as the legitimate authority that is unique to the the sons and the friends of God.

God, testing Abraham, said, “Take now your son…and offer him as a burnt offering“. The scripture doesn’t record Abraham’s reaction other than his prompt obedience. There just had to be a “You-Can’t-Be-Serious!!” moment in there somewhere. “Slay Isaac?! But God, he is the miraculous fulfillment of your promise to Sarah and I. And, need I remind you, he is the means to the fulfillment of your promise to make nations from me. Isaac has brought laughter into our lives replacing the sorrow of Sarah’s barrenness.” It is recorded that Abraham is God’s friend. Has it ever bothered you how God treats His friends? How about His sons; each of whom He scourges?

Words like scourging and discipline sound so Old Testament. But it is the New Testament writer of Hebrews who goes so far as to call us illegitimate without these experiences with God. Here is  a question for those who lead;

How do we possibly abide in His Word, confessing that it is inspired and not speak with clarity from personal experience regarding the Word-driven aspect of our friendship and sonship with God?

Legitimate shepherds are those whose lives and teachings incorporate these challenging aspects of following Christ. By teaching on our favorite themes (which frequently exclude correction), we fail to equip would-be followers of Christ with this essential part of the vision that should be forming in their hearts. Without this understanding of God’s ways, how will the would-be disciple react when the pathway becomes steep with some discipline from the Lord or narrow with some challenging circumstance?

My mulling has grown over time into a personal appeal to those who lead in the body of Christ; Please do not just share what you have learned from the latest books you have read and expect your listeners to become disciples. True disciples will balk at this voice. Unless it is lived-truth it is just propositional truth.  Second hand truths do not fan cold embers into fires nor can they sustain the fires that already glow within hungry followers.

Speak to us instead from your legitimizing experiences with God. Model for us what life with Him and each other looks like. I believe there are many who are looking and longing for those who can speak to them and live along side them with the authority that can only come from a life-experience shaped by God’s Word and His Spirit.

In his becoming a friend to God, Abraham had to let go of the thing that was most precious to him on this earth. Contrary to ever fiber of his being, he had to relinquish his rights to God’s promise and entrust that promise back to Him to do with as He pleased. For Abraham and for the author of Hebrews, it boiled down to this;

                                                  It is with God with Whom we have to do.

The sons of God who also enjoy friendship status with Him have been weened (often through discipline or pruning) from their earthly ambitions. Having let go of their agendas, they have become equipped with that legitimate authority that comes only from broken men and women; saints whose false foundations have been demolished; who are now resting exclusively on Christ alone as their life and are now living for His larger kingdom-agenda.

Father, please raise up authentic spiritual fathers whose lives and words will honor the whole counsel of scripture and help us to understand Your loving Father-heart so that we may process life as You intend us to; so that we might grow up well-formed in our spirits accurately representing who You are, as legitimate sons and daughters, to the world around us. Amen.


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