Monday, February 28, 2011

The Revelation of Jesus Christ 3: The Big Picture - Breakin' the Box!

Most people tackle puzzles with their head and not with their heart. We try to reason our way to the solution: wriggle around the unknowns, analyze the problem, define its perameters and break it down into smaller, more digestible, bite-sized portions.
God doesn't work that way. From the very beginning, He is The Solution and applies His Word His Way to cut to the heart of the issue, not just manage The Problem. We tend to complicate; He simply cuts through it. As Alexander the Great cut through the Gordian Knot with his sword and fulfilled ancient prophecies, so God's Sword of the Spirit pierces our 'grey areas' to reveal His Light through us.

We really run into difficulties when we try to apply this analytical approach with the larger puzzle called Life. We all too easily lose sight of our real purpose and become ensnared by insignificant details. We need The Big Picture: God's overall view and perspective on things, a world-view bigger than ourselves and our own little kingdoms of personal peace and comfort.
Too often we literally cannot see the forest for the trees!
We lose our focus on the essentials and become distracted by temporal non-essentials.

Distraction is the enemy's ploy to get us out of focus and off balance, majoring on minors and minoring on majors, straining at gnats while swallowing camels. When we're distracted, we're like Martha, subject to all sorts of delusions and confusions, prone to blame our brothers and sisters, and even the Lord! Lacking The Big Picture, we unconsciously seek to somehow compensate for our loss of vision! We focus on details, without properly evaluating their relationship to the whole, and this produces an even fuzzier image, farther yet from the truth of what really is!
That which is amazing becomes a maze!
And so we wander, broken and fragmented, from event to event, tree to tree, conference to conference, ever seeking, but never able to relate our experience in the context of a whole picture.

I believe that's what happened in the Garden of Eden: The Big Picture got broken! God gave Adam and Eve His true focus: The Tree of Life at the centre and every tree in the garden for food (Gen 2:9,16-17), except The Tree of Knowedge of Good + Evil. But the serpent distracted Eve from her centre, misdirecting her attention to doubt God, question His truth + motives and focus on 'the other tree' as a rightful substitute (Gen 3:3). The Tree of Knowledge wrongly became her centre. With her perspective and relationship with God off balance, she became confused and easily moved to wrong action.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church almost two thousand years ago:
'I fear lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.' (2Cor11:3)
I fear the same warning holds true today. The Western Church has become distracted from its centre: the Tree of Life - The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Our focus has rather become self-centred: 'What's in it for me?''What's good for me?'
We have lost sight of The Tree of Life forest, mesmerized with enticing Trees of Knowledge: the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.
We need the whole Big Picture restored!
We need The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

Unfortunately, many hear 'The Revelation' and immediately think mystery, 'mark of the beast', '666'. That is so 'Sick, Sick, Sick!'
The same distracting, deceptive tactic our enemy used in the garden against our first parents is now directed against us.
Our focus must be God's focus: It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Not anti-Christ, not end-times, not some supercomputer in Belgium punching out chips for implanting foreheads and wrists, not some speculative, end-time sci-fi scenario!
Sadly, much of the Church has traded a healthy Big Picture of Jesus and His New Covenant kingdom reality for some sick, futuristic fantasy.
An unBiblical horror movie. Lots of special effects, but no substance.
We've exchanged discerning Holy Spirit Son-glasses for a trendy set of fashionable Doom-and-Gloom goggles.
That may sell a lot of books, but it definitely does not line up with The Book.
These give a false, distorted vision of Jesus Christ: a diluted, defeatist, stale, boring, lifeless image of Churchianity.
A poor substitute indeed for the real thing: the Risen, Overcoming Christ who invites us to follow Him in victory, breaking through lies and limitations, plundering the devil's goods, opening new horizons of adventure in His Kingdom!
We've become addicted to consuming repackaged, candy-coated Old Covenant mysteries instead of feasting on New Covenant Revelation. Too much of our diet derives from the Tree of the Lie and not The Tree of Life!
We need to refocus on The Big Picture! We need The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

It's the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
In his 3 1/2 year walk with His disciples, Jesus constantly sought to help them refocus: take their eyes off themselves, their circumstances, their ministries, and redirect them to their true centre: HIMSELF!
He disputed with the Pharisees who misused the Word of God to fashion a comfortable legalism for themselves.
He commended them, 'You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life.'
But, He said, (and I paraphrase) 'You have missed the real point, for the Scriptures testify of ME! (John 5:39) It's all about Jesus!
On Resurrection Sunday, two of His disciples were headed in the wrong direction (running from Jerusalem to Emmaus), at the wrong time, with the wrong motivation (fear), and a wrong attitude (unbelief and discouragement). Jesus Himself joined them.
Why does He care so much about us even when we are oh so all wrong?
Why does He take time to meet us where we're at, even when we're headed in wrong directions with wrong purposes?
On this day, The Day history had anticipated for centuries, The Day I'm sure He must have had many other important concerns,
(Imagine how your priorities will change once you've risen from the dead!)
but Jesus chose to walk with these two... for hours, and listen to their confused, discouraging details misinterpreting the day's events.
Their puzzle pieces did not fit together!
They couldn't make sense out of the details because they'd lost sight of The Big Picture: The Resurrection!
They didn't even recognize Jesus when He Himself showed up!
But 'beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself! (Luke 24:27)
Later on, with all the disciples, 'He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures...
that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning ME.' (Luke 24:44-45)
The message very clearly was JESUS HIMSELF, not some religious idea, theory or how-to instruction manual.
Either Jesus was a very egotistic, misguided man with an over-inflated opinion of himself or, and this is the only alternative,
He truly is who He... and the Father...and the Holy Spirit...and the Bible...and many human witnesses... reveal Him to be:
Have you got your Son-glasses on?
Can you see Him when He shows up, even when He's changed from yesterday's glory to today's glory?
Or does He first have to fit your image of misunderstanding?

It's quite clear. The only true focus for healthy vision must be The Tree of Life: JESUS HIMSELF, not our own vision or creation of Him after our own thoughts. Anything less fashions a false image. We may call it God and worship it, but it is no more than an extension of ourselves, a creation of our own identity... an idol. Ironically, that's the case when we lose our focus on the True Jesus: we end up fabricating an image that is nothing more than our own intellectual (mis)conception of a reasonable god.
We may call it Jesus, but we have merely fashioned a glorified religious box.
So... we must, like instructions to activate an Emergency fire alarm, 'Break the Box!'

The Pharisees tried to put Him in their theological box, but He kept on breaking out of it:
'Tell me, who is the Christ? Is He's David's son? Then why does David in the Spirit call Him Lord?' (Matt 22:41-45)
The Sadducees, religious naturalists, tried to trap Him with questions about the supernatural that didn't fit their reasonings:
'Whose wife will she be in the resurrection, for all seven had her here on earth?'
But He answered, 'You are in deep error, neither knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.' (Matt 22:23-33)
In other words, you are so caught in your own snare, trying to figure out and manipulate details, that you can neither accept nor even recognize the overall truth of God's abundant and eternal life! You've eaten from a forest of Trees of Knowledge and now you are lost in their midst, incapable of knowing either your true identity or destiny. You've substituted a maze of lies for God's amazing revelation and now you are wandering among the details of your own confusion!
Jesus became a Problem to religious people and their solution was The Cross. They plotted to kill Him, put Him away, in a grave... in a box.
But God's answer to man's boxes is also The Cross! Jesus kicked out the walls of the grave at His Resurrection!
Sin and Death could not stand against Him! He destroyed the power of the devil at The Cross. His Resurrection and Ascension to The Throne of All Creation reveal this openly! Jesus broke the powers of hell, the grave and every anti-Christ box!
We are free! From stereotypical world-views and compartmentalizations, that is, parts of mental boxes that we can or cannot understand. God has given us a whole life!
Stop putting Jesus back in the box! He doesn't fit!
He's not a Jack-in-the-box. He's Jesus-out-of-the-box!

Build a box and He'll break out of it; He always has and He always will!

Let me illustrate this another way. Spiritual enigmas and mysteries have natural counterparts: some reveal similarities, others opposites.
Take, for example, an ordinary jigsaw puzzle.
Aren't you glad there's a picture on the box to reveal what the mumble-jumble of pieces inside will look like once you've joined them together? Without that big picture, there would be no reference point, no target, no vision of what you are working towards.
Even moreso for life's big puzzles: we need The Big Picture of Jesus!
Often it seems like we're holding only a box, a form with pieces and we're not even sure that all its pieces actually belong in our puzzle.
The Bible works the same way.
It's not just a collection of pieces: stories, ideas, doctrines, moral lessons, strategies, principles of Law or concepts of Grace.
It has a Big Picture. He's called Jesus! It's all about Jesus, Who He is and What He's done!
He is the express image of The Father, the complete fullness of the godhead bodily.
The simplicity of Christ alone reveals what's in the box of life's mysteries, so... once you've got The Big Picture, the best thing you can do with your box (ie. your assumed expectations, stereotyped presumptions and taped personal prophecies) is...
BREAK IT!!! He's much more alive than any status quo image!
Let Him live, let Him out! You're free to think, feel and live outside the Box!

Life in Christ is so different from the natural puzzles where we first turn all the pieces face up, group the various colours together, find the corners and join the edge pieces.
You can't do this with the puzzle pieces of your life in Christ!
Don't start with the edges.
Don't limit God in you by presuming limits and predetermining boundaries beyond which God cannot move!
Remember: He's bigger than all we can ask or think! Who you are in Him, who He is in you, and what He means to do through you cannot be contained in your little box! Don't try to define the boundaries of God in your life because in Christ there are none!
The first piece to place in your Life puzzle must be the centre-piece: The Revelation of JESUS!
Start with Him right at the centre and then join only pieces that fit with Him, not ones you fit Him into. When you connect pieces with Him, in His time + His place, you will not have to try to force pieces together. They will flow together!

One Christmas I got a jigsaw puzzle: it was BIG!: a blue-and-white sailboat with white sails on a white-capped, blue sea and a blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background. 2500 pieces, all in the same two colours! And every piece was also virtually the same size and shape: small, with tabs on each of two sides and indentations on the other two.
I rose to the challenge and began to piece together the unpieceable. It took hours! Days!
My Christmas holidays ended, but I came home from university on weekends and pressed on.. literally... I pressed and even pressured pieces into place, especially when my patience wore thin (and that grew to be more and more often). I placed what I'd already completed on a plywood sheet so I could move and store it safely. One weekend when I returned home, however, while opening my bedroom door, I inadvertently surprised the family cat, who had been comfortably sleeping on my bed ...on the puzzle. Startled, she immediately dug her claws into the puzzle, sprang from the bed, and dragging it behind her, left a broken trail of blue and white pieces.
I died.
I had worked so long and been so close to completion. And now, there lay my masterpiece... in pieces, a broken vision strewn from one end of the room to the other. The cat fled through the open door as I stood immobilized. Somehow I recovered enough to begin regathering the scattered pieces of my work. Some sections were still relatively intact; I just had to reconnect them. Others I had to completely reconstruct!
I don't remember how long the process took, but I do remember this: the day finally came to finish the last piece and... wouldn't you know it?
one piece was missing... right in the very centre!

Isn't that the picture of a life without Jesus?!
People try so hard to fit the details of their life picture together: all the colours, shapes and sizes of experience, but it's all in vain without Him first, right in the centre. Edges can define natural perameters and our relationships with other people, but in the Big Picture with God, they actually hinder. Jesus has taken away the veil of mystery and limitation that separated us from God, reality, our true identity and destiny.
He has given us the freedom to be who we truly are and all we can be!
We can look into the mirror of His face and know we are loved and accepted, but the picture's always changing as He transforms us from glory to glory! Natural mirrors expose faults that require our attention; but the mirror of His Spirit reveals an ever-changing Big Picture: Christ in us and us in Him becoming more and more like Him, the expression of His Body and Kingdom filling all the earth! (2Cor 3:18)
It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ... to us and through us!
Not only are we changed from glory to glory, but our lives become a continual revelation of His glory to others through us!
Jesus in you, Jesus in me WANTS OUT!
Take the step: Break the Box!!! There's so much more Revelation in His Big Picture!


  1. Lord, let me not lose focus of this!

  2. brilliant, box-breakingly brilliant, and you know the source of the brilliance!

  3. Amen, Henry, let us press on towards the upward call in Jesus and let Him take us where He wants us including any boxes He has to remove!