Representing the Heavenly Way

What Maturity Looks Like

 

My dad was in his early twenties when World War II began and before long he was drafted into the United States Army.  There, he excelled in physical training being recognized in the top few percent of his battalion.   His greatest ability though was in the use of weapons.  He became an instructor for the military in the use of the Browning Automatic Rifle the B. A. R.  This weapon discharged 3 rounds per second with lethal force.  He demonstrated the use of the B.A.R. all over the east coast.  For two years while the war was going on dad had a good job just showing the other troops how to use this weapon.  He could shoot with great accuracy from the hip and the mid arm without ever looking at the sites. 

 

His last 2 years of service was in the Philippine islands.  On Saipan and Okinawa dad saw the horror of war and the devaluation of human life because of human agendas.  When he first arrived on Saipan he walked to where some men were working on a fox hole.  He could hear shooting in the distance but thought little of it.  He was trained to fight and skilled in the use of weapons but when he reached the battle he couldn’t believe someone, that didn’t know him, would really try to kill him.  Within moments of his arrival he was almost killed by a sniper.  Within hours his life was transformed and he would never be the same.  He literally saw thousands of bodies buried by bull dozers.  Wooden markers were erected with only the body count noted; 100 enemy, 500 enemy, 1200 enemy etc.

 

Dad was a hunter and gatherer from childhood.   He was very skilled in the art of stalking and killing game for his family.  After the war he continued hunting and sometimes the only solace from probing questions concerning the war seemed to be the woods.  Even as I grew up dad would only briefly speak of the war and almost always with tears.  Hunting however was a way of life for us and I was always amazed at my dad’s skill with weapons.  He taught us to respect weapons and to be very careful in their use.  We used our guns as tools to bring food into our household.  

 

After my baptism my daddy began to attend church with us.  He seldom missed and when I asked him why we had to go to church all the time.  He simply said, “Most people get up on Sunday morning and see how they feel before they decide to attend church.  That decision, for me, is made before Sunday ever comes along. And I don’t get up on Sunday mornings and discuss church attendance with the devil.  Cause the devil will always give you an excuse to stay home. 

 

My dad grew into a great lover of people.  His kindness and care for others was well known around our community.  He also loved to train squirrel dogs and always seemed to have a few that he was getting ready to sell.   One day we got a phone call from an irate neighbor down the street.  The man on the other end of the line was cursing and swearing.  Dad tried to calm him but it still took awhile for the man to settle enough to make his complaint clear.  He said that one of dad’s dogs had come on his property and he wasn’t putting up with it anymore.  Dad said he would go get the dog and tie him up but the man began cursing and yelling again.  He told dad, “If one of your dogs ever comes on my property again, I’ll kill them”.  Then he went on to say that he would kill my dad if he came on his property.  For awhile dad was quiet then he said, “Why don’t you let me come down and talk to you or I’ll meet you half way and let’s talk, I don’t want any problems”.  The man yelled that he would kill dad again.  Then dad said, “You may kill me.  You have the power to do that but I love you and I will remind you of the love of God for your life with my dying breath”.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  And why was dad putting up with it anyway. 

 

Through the years I watched dad tolerate and bear injustice after injustice and never become bitter or resort to defending himself.  I saw him walk away from the mouth and hands of evil doers without a word.  Though he had the skill to protect himself, he knew that taking that road would dishonor the Lord Jesus that saved him.  Many times I was hurt for dad and wanted to step up and protect him myself but he would have none of it.  His simple explanation was, “It’s not the way of our Lord”. 

 

By the way that same man made a point to offer his help to dad years later and they became talking friends.  Dad’s been dead several years but before he died that man’s son in law would cut dads grass for free.  Now every evening when church time comes that man’s daughter drives my momma to church.  She’s made a dress for mom and will be placing a wreath on my dad’s grave this Easter.  You never know who’s watching when you conduct your life in a righteous way.  You never know what righteousness may spring out of you taking a cussing with dignity. 

 

Those of us that know the Lord can no longer be independent, self serving people.  We are blood bought.  We become the representatives of a heavenly way.  We relinquish our rights in order to represent the way of the Lord.  Self preservation is not the paramount issue to us.  Pleasing the Lord is.   The way of the Lord is contrary to the way of the flesh.  Christians must answer to the way of Christ, demonstrated by the life of Christ.  For Christians there is no amount of human experience, devastation, or success that gives us the right to choose our own way.  

 

I have watched self-centeredness ruin the Church.  I have watched the body count of damaged souls grow because of unyielding and unreasonable people.  I believe some of the Church is seeded with saplings doing demonic service.  Dear ones judge yourselves of these matters and soundly repent of your part in these things. 

 

We are subjects of a kingdom. This kingdom is ruled by a King.  The ways of this kingdom reflect the nature of its King.  The perfect expression of this kingdom was the life of Christ.  In the book of Judges it says “when there was no King in Israel every man did that which was right in his own eyes”.   Therefore, those who operate in independence and self pleasing are either grossly immature or not the subjects of this Kingdom at all.  They may be sitting next to us, singing the same songs, attending the same functions but they are followers of darkness.  These spirits undermine the way of the Lord.  However, as a rule they can be easily discovered because they will not answer to any authority that doesn’t agree with them.  Saints, it’s time for a house cleaning.   If you are young and don’t know any better, just repent.  If not, be warned the Lord God is watching and he will not tolerate this forever. 

 

For many years I have worked with the church and have been involved in trying to resolve controversies.  What I find is not an ignorance of the scripture or the ways of Christ.  What I find is an unwillingness to do things the way of the Lord.   Brothers and Sisters, rebels will be judged and will find their place in the lake of fire. 

 

Is there anyone that can jar you when your mind is made up?  Is there anyone that can appeal to you in a way that causes you to hesitate and reconsider what you’re doing?  Many of us act like spoiled children when we think we’re not going to get our way.   We stomp and froth and carry an attitude that paralyzes relationships.  In these fits of self-centeredness folks indiscriminately use their mouths with lethal force.  From these moments I have watched years of work and relationship cast aside without thought for the aftermath and the years of devastation and destruction to follow.

 

What does maturity look like?

  • Maturity is willing to yield to reason.
  • Maturity knows there is real authority beyond itself. 
  • Maturity recognizes and responds with real accountability to authority.
  • Maturity represents authority though there is no visible enforcer.  
  • Those that grow up in Christ require themselves to be accountable to the ways of Christ. 
  • Maturity understands there is a war being waged over external issues.  Yet the more important issue is holding to eternal values. 
  • Maturity has an eye for eternity it sees a reward beyond the circumstance and life. 
  • The mature become wise and strong in the Lord yet they are restrained and wouldn’t deliberately cause hurt to anyone. 
  • Maturity is willing to choose the road less traveled. 
  • It will elect the way of the “cross” the “via dolorosa” “the way of suffering” if that is their Lords will. 
  • Remember those that are mature are not self pleasers they are God pleasers. 

 

Where you’ve transgressed, repent.  Where you’ve seen these struggles in others, please pray.  The tactics of this war doesn’t come from soulishness.  Our strength comes from the resolve to represent our Lord at all times no matter what the cost.

 

Blessings

CJS