The past week has been an incredible one for the Presley family. We are currently on vacation in beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia, and the trip is only tainted by the wild fires burning just over the ridge. We may be evacuated...but hopefully not! The first part of our trip started in Colorado to spend time with members of our spiritual family and enjoy the 70 degree days of the Colorado high country.
The week began with daily get togethers with old friends, and getting acquainted with new ones. I have been part of Ben and Robin Pasley's circle of friends for almost 12 years now, so these gatherings weren't anything new. The conversations centered around sonship in the Kingdom, which they typically do. It is always great spending extended time with a group of people who seem to have a grasp on the dynamics of being a son of a King whose kingdom is often neglected and relegated to the local fellowship.
God always takes time to bake my noodle a bit when I am on these trips, and He wasted no time for this one. As I was listening to conversations that I have heard before, and seeing people's eyes open to ideas that mine had previously been opened, I felt a tinge of cynesism growing inside me. It seemed that my heart was, "Yeah, so...," because we live in a city that is so far removed from the truth that was being said that it is difficult to live it out day by day when we return to the sweltering Texas heat. Then God dropped something big into my heart. He said, "It is easy to be persuaded by rhetoric. It is far more difficult to be transformed by truth."
I had to take a second to let that sink in...and then a few more seconds to let it sink in some more. In fact, I don't think that I now fully comprehend the depths of that statement and how it applies to how I have been living my life over the past 32 years.
In our culture, rhetoric is a powerful thing. So powerful that one can get elected president on rhetoric alone without having the least bit of experience or truth to back it up. Now this is not a political conversation. This is a conversation about how rhetoric drives our ideas and how we react to the culture around us.
I began to realize that I have been taking rhetoric, and making it part of my conversation and collection of ideas, rather than allowing the truth behind the "speak" to transform my life. In other words, I took on and expoused different ideas that impressed others and made me feel that I had it a bit more figured out than the normal Chrisitian, but I hadn't allowed the truth to make me a different person. In fact, I would say that I was the same person as before, but just with a new collection of descriptave words to depict my faith.
I have said this a number of times, but will say it again. God called us to go out and impact culture to build His kingdom. Rather, Christians have been busily building a culture and calling it His kingdom, when really it is only a collection of people who are too afraid and/or self centered to take the Gospel where it should live, in our daily lives rather than the ministries of our particular fellowship. For me though, this was just rhetoric, and every time I stated it, people would go, "Oh, that's good. I am going to have to think about that one." But really, upon that revelation, I should have completely changed the way that I was intersecting with culture. I should have become extremely agressive to finding ways to get into the culture that God has called me to reach and living life with people who need Jesus. Rather than that, I only took on the idea, and shared it with others, because of the appearances that it bred.
That evening, as we sat around the fire, enjoying the chill of a Colorado evening, my eyes were opened to the effective campaign of the enemy to take the revelation of God in my life and relegate it to an idea, which has seemed to make it truly pointless. I mean, really, what good is the revelation of God unless the result is a greater love for the Father and those He has called us to reach? I have seen this time and time again in my personal life as well as in others, and all along, I felt that we were really growing in the Lord, when in fact we were only growing our own egos and vocabulary.
Now, I don't want to say that all rhetoric is bad. In fact, with the understanding of the power of rhetoric in our culuture, I am asking God how we can use rhetoric as a gateway into other's discovery of the truth of the Gospel, but it can't simply end with an idea. It can't simply end with a mission statement or a slogan. Although many are foolish enough to blindly follow a slogan, we as believers must back it up with our lives and our love. It requires a transformation, one that I feel that I am finally embarking upon, and God is unpacking so much in my life right now that it is hard to keep up, but I will certainly be logging the transformation! I hope that many would have their eyes open as I was this weekend. We will see.