The following is the transcript from our first Base Camp. It will give you a glimpse of what drives our ministry – being Kingdom Men on a Mission.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13
My wife and I have 3 small kiddos. Our house is really crazy, but we are learning how to deal with sweet, wonderful, high-volume voices and Legos everywhere. My boys have taught me how adventure can be created in all circumstances and that creating and telling stories is one of the greatest gifts a father and son can share. My daughter has helped me to slow down to dance or sing with her which is like a bazooka to stress. They are so much fun during family worship, and I have been amazed at the comprehension of scripture that I have received as I attempt to teach a biblical truth to my children. I am a blessed man.
Then there is bedtime…
Or as I like to call it…a reverse hostage negotiation! They want us to stay in the room. We want them to stay in bed and exit the room within a reasonable amount of time… The children have become professional negotiators who understand that in that moment they have far more will power than I do. “I want water, close the closet door, need some medicine, etc.” It is incredible the devices and reasoning they use to keep us in their room or to stay up just a little later. Some nights I have to go in and save Elissa to get her out of there. Create a distraction. Say good night. Give them two thumbs up, and close the door before they can think of something else.
There are lots of other examples of the crazy reasoning that kids have for the things they do. I laugh at the questions that I find myself asking:
- “Why are there Legos in the toilet?”
- “Why are you sleeping in your bed naked?”
- “Help me understand why that was a good idea at midnight?”
Then I think about our heavenly Father with his eternal perspective thinking, “David, why are you worried about this? Why is that more important to you?”
When Paul wrote this to the Corinthians, he was referring to how we tend to think about this life and our role in the body of Christ very childishly. We rationalize how we prioritize our life and how we spend our time, money, and talents. We want to consume church, but many never feel the need to contribute to the body. Many people believe that this chapter is about love in a marriage context because it is the most quoted scripture at a wedding. If you zoom out, Paul was writing to the Corinthians as the body of believers (so as the bride of Christ this chapter still has a marriage context).
Many people have talked about Corinth as the Las Vegas of its day. Why? Sexual sin was celebrated, and they worshipped many gods within the very pagan and philosophical Greek culture for favor and social standing. 1 Corinthians 6 says that they were obsessed with sexual sin, homosexuality, men acting like women, idolatry, and drunkenness. I think that some of the things that made Corinth a pagan city are very prominent in Atlanta or any major US metropolitan area. The Corinthian church also had its cultural camo on and not for the right reasons. You couldn’t distinguish the church goer’s morals from other Corinthians. There were divisive issues within the church, and lastly they were not utilizing the spiritual gifts and talents God had given them to carry the gospel forward. Paul was calling on them to unite for kingdom purposes in chapter 13, and in verses 11 and 12, Paul is telling the church to mature into their kingdom purpose and to do away with temporary and cultural distractions.
Our middle son brings so much joy to our house. He is so full of energy, he almost needs a seat belt for his bed at night. We took him for his Kindergarten evaluation last year, and he made it to like question #3 before getting up and running around the room. The teacher told us he probably need to just play for another year before school started. My wife has been homeschooling him and made an amazing discovery in the process. She has a hard time getting him to focus on her face when she is speaking or instructing him because he is always so excited, but when she gives him a paint brush or a pencil to draw something, he immediately gets still. As his parents we know there is a significant level of peace in his body language, and there is a steely focus in his eyes. He could sit there for hours and draw.
Some of us haven’t grown up yet in our spiritual maturity because we don’t fully understand what God put on this earth to do. We look at others and compare ourselves a lot, but God gave us unique gifts to accomplish a unique mission. We need to appreciate each other’s unique gifts and encourage each other in finding them. It took a dramatic and traumatic event in Paul’s life for him to face the right direction for his kingdom vision. Once he had that event, there was a group of men that helped him, discipled him, and helped him find his kingdom purpose.
The Bible says to “Seek first the kingdom.” You may never find your Kingdom niche, if you never do Kingdom work. There are countless stories of men finding inspiration after going on a mission trip with other guys or even guys that take a small leap of faith to do something for someone, and it turns into their ministry. Pray about that. Seek your kingdom purpose. In Matthew 13, Jesus gives us several parables to describe what it means to have a kingdom vision. The one of the most well-known parables is the treasure in the field that once discovered, the man gave all he had to buy that field.
C.S. Lewis had a great quote, “There are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only 70 years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live forever.”
How will your thinking mature if you focused on the future eternal kingdom? Are you even doing the right things to find your kingdom purpose? Take on your spiritual maturity one step at a time in the right direction.
In verse 12, we see that in this life we are staring at ourselves in complete confusion. The word “mirror” simply means reflections of ourselves, but the word dimly is a little deeper in the Greek. The Greek root word there is Ainigma – where we get the English word Enigma. It means a puzzle or a mystery. Basically what Paul is saying is that we can stare into ourselves, stare into the mirror our whole life, and not understand ourselves any better. There are many things that contribute to our Enigma in this life – past family wounds, sins, failures, pride, selfishness, self-righteousness, etc. We are all a big mess when we live according to our selfish nature. We are all inherently selfish. The Enigma is simply how our flesh, our sin nature, our inherent selfishness, interacts with the broken world and broken people around us.
But then Paul says, “BUT THEN, face to face…” Face to Face with Jesus… Can you imagine that moment? Just take a second to let that sink in…No seriously take a second…This is incredibly motivating for me personally. It is overwhelming actually. I hope for that moment so much.
Face to face with Jesus….it says, “now I know in part, but THEN I will know just as I also have been fully known.” For me when I read this verse, I think about a light switch being flipped in my mind suddenly unlocking the fullness of Christ flowing into my heart and out of my heart. I feel like when I see Jesus face to face, suddenly there will be nothing in between me, the bulb, and the power plant. No more enigma filtering out who I am in Him. We are going to feel the full charge and power of Christ, and our heavenly bodies will be ready for it. We will see our identity perfectly and clearly in that moment.
We will fully know just as we have been fully known. One of my favorite verses is John 1:16, “Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” In that moment we will suddenly understand just how great His grace is toward us. Even the things we shutter at Him knowing, it will be real to us that He knows it. We’ll understand the severity of hell and what we were saved from. What an awesome, but humbling moment it will be when we fully know just as we have been fully known. I believe that we will understand just how great our eternal King is in that moment, and we will be pumped to serve and worship Him in eternity. Our response to His glory in that moment will be a natural and eternal fixation on worshiping Him forever.
Abide in Him
But for now, we are straining and striving to serve Him in our imperfect bodies…Paul says, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three, but the greatest of these is love.
There is another word that counteracts Enigma in the New Testament. It is the Greek word Morphoo, or morph. Paul uses this word in several different uses to convey that:
- Christ is formed in us, when His spirit is in us, it will shape how we act and think
- Conform to the image of Jesus, we are to show Christ to others
- Probably the most well know is when Paul states to the Romans, “Do not be conformed to the world any longer, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Jesus Christ helps us to become a new creation here and now in this life as we prepare for the next. But to do so, we have to abide in Him. Before we get into Faith, Hope, and Love, let’s talk about abide. That is a powerful word. Imagine repelling down a mountain without a rope. It’s called falling off a mountain. You have to use the rope to operate below the peak and descend to the ground. We are seeking to interact with a broken world and with broken people that are not at the peak. The rope keeps us anchored to the peak even when we are operating below it. John 15 clearly teaches that we have to abide in Him if we hope to produce fruit, and I believe that fruit is to glorify Him with our lives and to enjoy living life with Him. How do we do that? Let’s talk about this in the context of abiding in faith, hope, and love.
Abide in Faith – If you want a paradigm to the word faith, I think a good paradigm would be fear. Satan wants each of us to fear something within our relationship with God. Through lies, shame, and failures, he makes us fearful to act in faith. Skye Jethani has great analogy in his book With. He compares our faith to trapeze artists. Imagine a trapeze artist that jump off the platform and swings on their bar back and forth, but they never let go to fly over to their partner who is waiting to catch them. To the outside world, they wonder what is wrong with the trapeze artist and why they are not letting go. Many Christians today bravely swing and have expressed faith to a degree, but it takes courage to show the world just how strong their faith is. They have taken the leap of faith to believe, but not to fly. Jesus is one on the other side, and He will always catch us. Others are watching and will want to know how and why we did it when they see us fly. We need to surrender our spirit of fear and fly toward Jesus. When you step out on faith, and Jesus catches you. Your faith in Him is clear to all who are watching. It is exhilarating, but you won’t experience that if you hold on tightly to the bar in order to control your fears.
Abide in Hope – Hebrews 11:1 says that our faith is assurance of things hoped for. We focus a lot in defining faith as trust or assurance, but we also need to inspect what we are hoping for. This world provides a lot of things for us to place our hopes in. We can broadly label these things idols, which sounds harsh, but it is an appropriate paradigm based on what we are worshiping with our hopes. Francis Chan makes a great analogy for eternal hope in this video when he compares eternity to a length of rope. Are you too focused on the short end of the rope? I witnessed the concept of eternal hope the strongest on a mission trip in a third world country visiting with families that were half clothed and hungry, but they were worshiping Jesus with everything they had inside. They literally didn’t know where the next meal was going to come from. They were desperately seeking more than this life has for them, and in a way that makes them richer than the richest people we know. Their hope is in the right place and so was their worship and mission. What is keep you from putting all of your hope in Him? The story of Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler shows a specific example of a man who wanted to follow, but he was not willing to put all of his hope in Jesus. The vine has all that you need, abide in the hope of the vine.
Abide in Love – This is agape love – the sacrificial kind. The kind that Jesus showed when He put all of our sins on His shoulders on the cross. The paradigm here is selfishness. Agape love doesn’t consider self over others. It is compelled to help others, to come alongside (not to raise the bar/requirements of the gospel), to forgive even our greatest enemies. Jesus even states that we should pray for them (Matt 5:44). Is your love self-seeking or sacrificial? Sacrificial love requires supernatural help to persist. It is fueled by grace and our heavenly Father’s love for us.
Sacrificial love requires a response. Could you imagine your wife (or future wife) saying to you, “I love you,” and your response to her is silence or rejected. Hopefully that is not the state of your marriage or your relationship with Jesus. Seriously consider the magnitude of love He had for you to take your sins, humble himself to the point of death and separation from the Father. He did that for you. How will you respond to that?
Just the Greatest
“The greatest of these is love.” I’ve read several commentaries on why it says that love is the greatest and two things stand out,
- Love is what compelled Christ to die for us (John 3:16). It has been described as the “circulatory system of the body of Christ.” The life blood of the church as we seek to imitate Christ’s love.
- When you see Jesus face to face, your faith and your hope will be fully realized in that moment. Faith and hope become reality. That electrical current of reality will hit you…the unfiltered love of Christ that we will get to experience and reciprocate for eternity. You will know just as you have been fully known…forever.
Even Jesus said this is not an easy process for us to understand in our flesh. In John 16:21-22, He describes this life to childbirth. No guy can claim to know what that feels like, but maybe you have a very vague idea as a spectator. I, for one, was traumatized from five feet away.
“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
And that’s forever joy guys. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see Jesus’ face. I can’t wait for the full reality of His love to hit me like an electrical surge direct from the power plant. I know that the enigma of all of our lives is pulling at us all. Live for that moment. Focus on that moment, not the enigma. Understand that this life is just birth pangs. Joy is on the other side that will never be taken away.
Seek his face. Abide in faith, hope, and love.
Live as KINGDOM MEN ON A MISSION.