December 1, 2010

Intellectualizing or Internalizing

Often our issue is not intellectualizing the Scripture, it is internalizing it. We accept the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised again the third day according to Scripture. Then we we do absolutely nothing with it. We intellectually assent to it and then move on. It does nothing to move us in life. I compels us to do nothing. We must ask ourselves something at this point. Are we saved? Did I accept what Jesus did for the sake of my only intellectuality or do I desire to have a relationship with Him by internalizing His teachings and becoming His disciple?

As I have said hundred times in the past and will probably say a thousand in the future before I die: You cannot have a experience with The Living God and walk away unchanged. If you did walk away unchanged it might not have been God you came near to. Only you can know for sure. This understanding avoids the usual question I have so often heard, especially from Catholics and non-Calvinists, "Can I loose my salvation?" The question really should probably by, "Did you ever have it?" Believe me, you will know it when God descends into your world. It is something more than an intellectual assent. It is also more than a feeling that I am told I needed to have experienced by my more animated brethren. The God that left His presence manifest on Moses after being on the mountain, the God that anointed kings, the God that dwelt in the presence of His people as a pillar of flame by night and a cloud by day.

So you sit and ask, how will I know? Personally, I have noted it in my behavior. I have internalized behaviors, sometimes unconsciously so. Behaviors that show and manifest a Christ-like nature that were not who I use to be. Sometimes these behaviors and actions are quite inexplicable and are not always the easiest course of action but because they will benefit others, I do them. I have slowly disconnected from what the culture and society says is okay. I often find much of what they deem okay offensive and improper now. Is it a deliberate arrogance to purposely appear snobbish and act like an idiot? No! Is it often perceived that way? Yes! In an attempt to set myself apart from it and prevent myself from sinning I often am perceived as being stand-offish, intolerant and exclusivist. The reality isn't that I look down on others for their behavior but it is a need I have to avoid what can easily become a trap for me that ends in sin or a further distortion of a holy life.

I am only now learning to be thick skinned and resistant to certain types of sin. I came from a background of addictions. I know that limiting is not an option for me, I need to avoid things. Some say, "I am not that weak, I can handle it." Can you? If I told you the names of every person I heard that from on the last 25 years that ended up destroying their lives or ended up sliding slowly back to sin and eventually dead it would take your breath away. The evil and sin lurks in the shadows just out of the line of sight. The minute you turn, it jumps on your back and hangs on to you like a ravenous animal. Its claws deeply dug into your back and teeth embedded in your neck.

Do I internalize it well? Do I always walk the walk perfectly? Of course not. I am very human and therefore a sinner by nature but there is a constant desire to first seek out the will of the One, Christ...God. I am now wired in such a way that I try to assure I am in the will of God and obey the life outlined in the Bible. Yes I stray but I always try to recenter on the Word. I am always gauging to see if I am being led astray and if I note a considerable deviation of 5-10% of normal. If I sense I have gone off target I stop, plan, check and act if I get off track again.

You will know when your 5-10% off. It will be like riding in a vehicle with air low in a tire or a messed up suspension. Your life will lean or list to one side or the other and you will always be using some of your strength and effort to right the steering and it will continue to fight you. It is at that point you need to stop the vehicle, get out and find the problem. Then make a plan of action to correct by focusing on the Lord in prayer and check to make sure the plan is working. If not it is either the wrong plan or the one you have needs to be tweaked. Act on it and get it right, your sanctification is at stake. If you do not make the corrections now and recognize somethings not right, it can only get worse. If it gets worse you risk permanent damage or worse...failure.

Maintenance and being proactive are key. A true believer will care about this and want to do it to maintain a close and active relationship with their Lord and Savior. If to the scrap heap. Sometimes it takes more than replacing oil or polishing the paint to keep up appearances. Sometimes it takes more than replacing a headlight to see where you are going. Sometimes it takes an entire tune-up or overhaul the of the inside. This can only be done by internalizing not intellectualizing. If you only intellectualize Christ and the Word it is like replacing the vehicles computer but doing nothing to fix the malfunctioning engine. If you want a smooth clean running need to do both.

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