The secretary at work asked how I was the other day.
“Groovy” was my response.
I like that word. It’s not a pat response, but it is still nebulous enough to keep people guessing about how I really am.
Alas our culture of moral relativism has even taught us to enjoy words that have no concrete meaning. We live in a world which has left us feeling “Is what I think I heard really what he meant by what he is almost sure he said?”
And we wonder why half the world is walking around in a state of philosophical confusion! If we are ever to put our feet on solid theological ground again we have to learn to say what we mean and mean what we say.
We have been talking about reinventing our prayer lives. I think this idea of defining terms is really important if we are going to go deeper into the presence of the Living Savior. After all if we are going to say “this” or “that” is the key to a better prayer life isn’t it important that we all have the same definition of “this” or “that”?
I have two words for you: anointing and discipline. These are two words important to us as individuals, churches and even communities of nations. That we don’t recognize their importance or even sometimes misunderstand what they are does not in anyway negate them.
So let’s begin. What is anointing? According to the Bible the anointing is the touch of God or the glory of God set upon a person’s life for practical use (I John 2:20, 27) particularly in the area of knowledge and understanding.
In the Old Testament it was the anointing that set a person aside for practical use by God in a specific calling (Exodus 29:7-33).
Anyone who does not want the anointing, or the glory of God applied to their lives for practical use is as dumb as a box of hair! You need the anointing! I need the anointing, because I need God’s glory to live out my practical everyday experiences. I don’t just need God’s glory to help me prepare sermons or lead worship. I need God’s glory to figure out how to pay my bills. I need God’s glory to advise my kids. I need God’s glory to love my wife as “Christ loved the church.” Noone I have ever met has figured out how to do this life successfully without God. Yet so many of us as Christians are trying to figure out how to impress God on our own without the anointing. “Having begun in the Spirit we are now trying to finish the work in the flesh”, the very thing God warned the Galatian church against. We are as C.S Lewis put it trying to live our lives as “practical atheists”. This is because we don’t seek the anointing, or the glory of God applied to our lives for God’s practical purposes.
There is a reason we don’t seek out the anointing though. It comes with a high price tag. That price tag is discipline. What is discipline? Well so many of us think that the Lord’s discipline comes because we do something wrong. This is true in part but only in part. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12 that hardship is discipline. It doesn’t come just because we do something wrong but because we are wrong at the core. Everyone goes through discipline of one sort or another and it is not always because we have done something which everyone around us would say is “naughty”. Sometimes we are immersed in the fires of discipline because there is something buried deep inside of us which is unseemly to God even though we might not recognize it as sinful. Many times it is more motive than method that God is trying to get at in discipline.
God says it this way. “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?… Our father’s disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12: 7-11
Now I don’t know about you but the end of that verse, the results of discipline (holiness, a harvest of righteousness, and peace) that sounds like the anointing to me.
What that says to me is that it is discipline that brings the anointing. If that is true we have to recognize that our very longing for a reinvented prayer life (which by extension requires the anointing) is going to set us under the hand of the Lord’s discipline. We are going to face hardships so that the wicked ways in us may be exorcised by the Lord who goes with us into the fiery furnace of our tribulation. Then the anointing will come to fill the space left behind by our crucified flesh. Then we will have the renewed prayaer lives we so desire.
This is why James can say, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.” James 1: 2-4
Anointing and discipline now there are two words I have for you that are really groovy!