Having made a journey in space and time, an article first published in May 2005 'washed up' on the shores of New Zealand and has now been returned to the author's inbox in the Scottish Highlands.
Ed preface: A Christian brother in England received a message from New Zealand and e-mailed me a question: "Is this you?" I had to dig around on an old blog-syle internet group message list which pre-dated the Christians Together website in order to find the answer. Indeed it 'was me'. I copy it below (as my English brother believes it has a continuing relevance).
HIGHLAND CHRISTIAN NEWS
To Whom it May Concern
Message Dateline: 2 May 2005
Preface: The following letter may have no relevance for you and, if so, I would not wish that you waste your time by continuing to read any further than the next paragraph. However, if you feel that it may apply to you please read on. What I say is based on what I have been experiencing amidst the body of Christ where I am over a period of years.
Dear Christian believer,
For a considerable time now you have been strangely unsettled in your spirit. This has perplexed you - as you have just been getting on with your Christian walk and participating in the general life of the church. But you have been disturbed in yourself. You have re-read the pages of the Bible relating to the dynamic works of the apostles and the early disciples; and then compared these with what you have been experiencing in your own life and fellowship setting. And you have perceived a huge "mis-match"; a yawning gap between where (spiritually-speaking) things are now, and where the early followers of Christ were in their day. (Note: I am not suggesting that Pentecost is to be repeated; but rather continued..( Eph 5:18.)
In different times and circumstances you may have felt that it was time to "move on to a new situation" in your journey with Christ, but in a strange way you have not felt any clear direction regarding which way to go. You have not felt called to "re-locate"; indeed you may have been feeling and continuing to feel that you need strive to indentify more closely with your immediate neighbours and that section of society (neighbourhood/workplace, etc.) in your immediate orbit.
In a strange way, any striving that you have done to draw closer to Christ, and to be more committed to His calling and God's word, has increased rather than reduced the dis-satisfaction and unrest that you have been feeling. And you have felt lonely even when surrounded by other Christians who do not seem to be disturbed in spirit in the way that you are. Most other Christians in fact seem to be just happily getting on with their lives. And this adds to your perplexity. "Is it just me? Why am I feeling this way? There must be something wrong with me; as most others seem to be getting along OK."
You have been concerned that you might be getting cynical and critical over what you see as the increasing worldliness in the church. And you long for fellowship with others whom you feel might understand - in some measure at least - "where you are". But as you cautiously yet honestly open up to others whom you sense may be walking the same path, you find that they too in their heart of hearts have been going through exactly the same inner spiritual processes and turmoil as yourself.
If you have been sensing or experiencing any of these things take heart dear child of God. I believe that what you have been going through is a God-given unsettledness, a Holy dissatisfaction with "what is"; and what He has been creating in you is to prepare you for the days to come.
I believe a great crisis lies ahead - for society, its peoples and the religious system which many would call "the church"; and God needs those who have been weaned away from dependency on the structures, programmes and other facets of organised churchianity. He is looking for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; and long to be filled with the life-giving Spirit of God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is searching for those who are - and will seek to be - Kingdom-builders (as opposed to empire-builders). He is desiring and preparing those who will seek to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified; those who will find no satisfaction in the trinkets of this world and who will spurn the carnal methods, the fixation with "success" and the worldly measurements of "spirituality" and "commitment" that have invaded the church.
But, if you have not done so already, please consider some questions. Are you a believer who is prepared to "abandon all" in the cause of Christ and His Great Commission to reach the lost? Have you considered the cost, and are you prepared to pay that price in the context of the measure of grace that has been shown to you? Indeed, in your spirit, you realise that nothing short of total submission will slake your thirst for God and satisfy the desires of your heart.
The way ahead could involve great sacrifice; and you may face rejection and much criticism - even from those around you and close to you in the "church", but it is this type of sacrifice in which the Lord delights (Matt 5:11&12). And indeed the cost of turning away from His calling upon your life would be even greater.
Take heart dear follower of "the Way", you are not alone. Many others are being spoken to in exactly the same way as God is speaking to you. If it is not apparent to you yet, time will reveal those who will stand with you. Meanwhile equip yourself with (a knowledge of) His Word and abandon yourself to (the leading of) His Spirit, that He might use you to the extent that He would, as the God of all ages works out His purposes in our fallen and needy world; both now and forever.
Your God and my God has clearly stated through His Son Jesus Christ:
Blessed and those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, because they shall be filled.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. (Matt 5: 6 - 10)
Footnote: See also a later 'Open Letter' (27/06/2012) which lists some symptoms and suggests some remedies relating to the above