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Sometimes I have been wondering why I am often misunderstood. No, I am not referring to my private life here. Instead, I have encountered this strange occurrence when I share spiritual insights with other Christians. Even if I try hard to explain what I have been talking or writing about, I am confronted with either silence or another misunderstanding. It was only today that it began to dawn on me where this conflict might come from. What helped me out here were the following Scriptures below. Let us just look at what had happened on Pentecost.

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:31-32 ESV)

Only to highlight a few words here,

“they were ALL filled with the HOLY SPIRIT……

those who believed were of ONE HEART and SOUL…..

they had everything in common.”

I think you might agree with me that God’s own, sovereign doing is absolutely necessary to create such a heavenly condition between people who, perhaps, did not have much in common as to their background, education or personal interests. I know these things I just mentioned matter more today than they did in the past because many people back then were not educated at all and many of them seemed to have been poor as well. So, for the record, these people believed and thus they shared the same heart and soul; they even shared their possessions out of this love for one another! Has it ever occurred to you that what the Church calls “belief” nowadays and what these first believers experienced might not have much in common, either?  🙄

Before drawing more conclusions I want to paste the next Scripture, a longer part of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. We can read,

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,… (Phil 2:1-5 ESV)

Here we see a similar emphasis on oneness IN Christ, whether Paul refers to encouragement, love, and affection, all must have sprung from the Holy Spirit (i.e., participation in the Spirit). Have you also noticed that Paul used a conditional clause here: “So IF there is ANY encouragement IN Christ…. ANY comfort….. ANY….. and so on. Turning this condition on its head, if there is nothing we have to share IN Christ, then we should not even dare to do so. Once again, it depends on God’s leading here. Paul’s emphasis was, just as it was in the Book of Acts after Pentecost, that all believers were to have “the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. “

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Danger arises for us if we do not share in these God given gifts. Then we might be tempted to follow ‘another one’s’  leading. Therefore, I believe, Paul included this warning to not trust one’s own soul and flesh since he wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

The mind of Christ, that is what we all need in this hour. Selfish ambition won’t lead us anywhere. In fact, it separates us from other believers in Christ and, what is even worse, it separates us from the Head of the Body, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who truly wants us ALL to share in His mind, in His heart, and in His humility. In closing I want to offer you another excerpt from T. Austin Sparks’ writings which sheds some light on the why and how our souls cannot see when they have been deceived. For further reading, just follow the link below.

“Man is by nature now a deceived creature. Deception is deception, and the deceived never know it until they are enlightened or delivered. It is like a disease. There are forms of mental sickness which cause those who are so suffering to believe certain things which to the healthy mind are ridiculous and impossible. It is useless to argue with them, and futile to try to convince them of the untruth of their beliefs. Indeed, it is cruel at times to oppose them. If you are to live with them in any measure of peace and be at all helpful you have to take the attitude of agreeing with them and deal with the situation along some other line. Otherwise it is going to be continual clash. The only way to change their convictions is to heal their sickness.

“So it is with man. He believes many things as to himself, his ability, potentialities, destiny, about God and about the world, which are not true. He mistakes certain things for other things, but he cannot see that he is deceived. It is useless to hold objects before a blind man, and to tell him to see them; and it is foolish to be surprised or annoyed that he does not do so. So the Scriptures say, “The natural (soulical) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them…” (1 Cor 2:14). And again, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Cor 4:4).

“Now, when we go to the source of this deceived condition, we find that it originated in the soul. The Deceiver assailed the soul—desires, reason, will—and drew this out as a basis of life apart from and independent of God. The motive was to have things in the ego, the self, instead of in God by dependence. Having succeeded in getting man to so exalt the ego to independence and superiority, he captured man as now a suited instrument for his purposes. Man ceased to be suited to the purposes of God, for his very nature was changed. This man, changed by complicity with Satan, is a false man, not a true man according to God’s mind; and is now suited to Satan’s false kingdom. The history of man in his natural state is the history of a lie, a false nature, a false expectation, a false hope, a false faith and a false world. The end of that man and that world is sorry, tragic disillusionment.”

https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001342.html

Last, but not least, I want to thank Michael Clark whose habit to emphasize “IN” and “INTO” Christ I have adopted for quite some time now. It truly makes sense to me! 🕊️😇👍🏼 Dear reader, for further delving into this topic see Michael Clarks’ and George Davis’ website, and in particular this linked article http://www.awildernessvoice.com/LifeIntoChrist.html.

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All images © Susanne Schuberth 2021