When God Mixes His Glory with Our Lives, Culture and Times
When God's presence or the River of Life flows among people it does not do so in a vacuum, but flows into their time in history, culture and theological understandings. It also embraces their gifts, talents and personalities in the process of forming the new wineskin or organic unit in and from which the glory of God flows out to the people of their day. These wineskins seem to have varying life spans, but all seem to follow similar patterns in their life cycle. This pattern is seen throughout Church history. It is similar to the pattern in the book of Judges.
It all starts when believers begin to call out to God for more of Him.
They repent and humble themselves, God moves on them and they rediscover Godís power and supernatural work, and they see a biblical truth or truths that have been neglected or ignored, these new discoveries become a part of their core values or doctrines. They begin to spread this new life or renewal of Godís power and truths and grow in numbers. The move of God among them needs defining and conceptualizing; there is also a need to organize as they continue forward with this fresh work of God. The people who have been leading organize things and form a recognized unit, terms are defined and doctrine established.
It is at this point where the trouble usually shows up. There is an attempt to camp out or build tents at the point of renewal or revival. This is similar to Peter wanting to build three tents on the Mount of transfiguration. The people begin to get fixated on the unique things that happened or truths discovered and the hardening of the wine skin begins. All future fresh working or teaching from God must fit the new grid or it becomes unacceptable. God is grieved and begins to wait for His people to start the process again. It might be a different group in a different place at the same point in History or among the same group.
The other thing that occurs among those experiencing a fresh move of God is a tendency to retreat back to previously known ways and beliefs when the new move of God begins to fade and /or its teachings get to be a challenge to live with or walk out in daily life. Evaluating what is or is not of God along with teaching others the proper way to express and operate in these gifts or according to these teachings has been a major challenge to those who experience a renewed work of God among them. This is particularly true if there is supernatural manifestations of Godís Spirit among them as was true in the book of Acts and as have been recorded throughout church history. We have a tendency to either abuse or deny anything new. We either become fixated on it or flee it and those associated with it. This seems to be just as true for justification by faith as it is for divine healing.
If you are familiar with molding clay, mixing concrete or even plaster you are aware that the mixture only has so long before it will set into some permanent form. This is somewhat true of the mixing of Godís living water into the lives, times and culture of people. Once you set the form it seems hard for us to change.
Wineskins are also limited in their durability. Although, it is true that with proper care they can last a long time it is also true that they have to be replaced from time to time. This knowledge requires of us that we care for the wineskin we are a part of so that it will accomplish all that God intends and last as long as He desires it to be useful.
Isa. 55:8-11 presents us with a truth that must be considered in our examination of Godís work among people.
8 "My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 "The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
God knows what he sends His Spirit or River of life to accomplish and into the context which he sends it. He knows the strengths and weaknesses and the life span of His work among each time and people. This brings us to awareness that God is constantly pouring out His presence or river of life to accomplish His work among the different peoples and in the different cultures and times. Although culture and times change peoples need for the life of God does not.
The question then arises; can we change with the seasons and changes in culture to allow the River of Life to flow through us so that Godís purpose in the earth is accomplished on a continual basis? If we say yes, how will we do it?
Up Next: With our different Wineskins we all faced with accomplishing the same task, to fulfill the commands of Christ and to equip His people in accord with Ephesians 4:10-13. What are the common elements to our task?