Becoming Living Epistles

do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? … clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:1, 3 NKJV)

Clearly we are called to living epistles, letters of commendation, written by the Spirit if the living God. How does that translate into the reality of our lives? Imagine the finger of God writing on the two tablets of stone for Moses on the mount (Exodus 31:18), or the hand coming out of thin air and the fingers writing unreadable messages on the wall, which Daniel was able to interpret (Daniel 5:24ff.).  These are stories we tend to be familiar with. Now imagine the Lord’s finger coming to David and writing the blueprints and specifications for the Temple Solomon was to build:

“All this,” said David, “the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.” (1 Chronicles 28:19 NKVJ)

I had never been aware of that scripture, and the implications of it, until last night.

What if God wants us to get so close to him that he is able to download into us legal systems, judicial rulings, building plans and specifications, and other life-transforming information? I know a man who claims that one of his most recent books was dictated directly by the Holy Spirit, written after a major health setback which became an extended spiritual battle not only for his life but for his spiritual legacy,  AND after the Holy Spirit had told him months before (and AFTER the health crisis) to shred hundreds of pages of notes he had already made SINCE his recovery had begun! In that book he wrote things that he didn’t even understand, but which have since been verified by others as amazingly accurate. I still remember Harold Hill’s book from the 1970’s, How to Live Like a King’s Kid, in which he was able to discern by the Spirit that a huge generator on a ship had been built faultily, a fact that had to be simply verified at considerable cost by removing it with a crane, and then corrected. Others have told me of messages they were able to convey to others without even understanding what they were saying or how they were impacting the other persons. The list, I’m sure, goes on and on.

Recently the Lord called me to become a Bible teacher, but not in the usual sense. Somehow he made clear to me that I am to be somehow a living embodiment of His Word. Some five years ago, I managed to memorize the entire book of Philippians (from the NIV) and present it as a monologue in a costume, portraying Paul in prison reciting the message for dictation to be written down. (For a while I had neglected it, but I have recently resurrected it.) I am now working on the book of James from THE MESSAGE. I picture presenting it as “Old Camel-Knees,” on my knees as though praying, with maybe a camel-hair costume and some sort of grotesque knobby-kneed attachments on my knees. (At age 59, I really don’t do kneeling well anyway.)

But more than simply “doing” presentations, I’m finding my life being transformed as I memorize and study the Word. What if somehow, our inner lives become “nuclear” and we begin to physically radiate the way Moses’ face shone? In the remainder of the chapter that started with our lead-in Scripture, Paul speaks of taking on an ability to become more luminescent than Moses, who had to veil his face because the Israelites were not able to stand the radiance. Maybe we haven’t taken that literally enough.

Jesus said to let our lights shine (Matthew 5:16), that the righteous would “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (13:43). That kingdom CAN include the NOW: Remember  we were told to pray, “Thy Kingdom come…”? In my opinion, one of the best teachings in recent decades has been that the Kingdom as the in-breaking, the breakthrough of God’s will actually being realized on earth, has not only a future-tense as a totality, but a present-tense empowerment that we are occasionally able to grasp and bring into reality in the here and now, making miracles literally happen.

Long story short, I am hungry for a deepening of my relationship with God to an extent I’ve never known before. I want to start radiating without even being aware of it. I want to BE a Bible teacher, without ever speaking a word, as St. Francis’ famous admonition says: Wherever you go, preach the gospel; when necessary, use words. I want to become a living embodiment of the Holy Spirit, a receptacle, a vessel He fills up and pours out again and again. I want to be like the Ark of the Covenant and Mary the mother of Jesus, a holding-place for the Word of God being brought to the world in transforming power. I can honestly state with Paul (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV):

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

How do I get there? I’m not totally sure yet. As the theme song in the movie Paint Your Wagons says, “Where am I goin’? I don’t know. When am I headin’? I ain’t certain… When will I be there? I don’t know. When will I get there? I ain’t certain. All I know is I am on my way.” And I can certainly encourage you to “Paint your wagon and come along… We’re on our way!”

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