by Teresa L. Randle – Article / July – September 2020
During this time of isolation and lockdown, I have tried a totally new skill that I have never done before; gardening. I am having to learn so much about gardening, which plants to plant where, in what soil or what pot, how much to water them etc. etc. If I get my basics wrong I will not have the best success. The only way to learn is to study and practise and lay a firm foundation for success.
It was exactly what had happened in Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews 5:12-14 was berating the Jewish Christians, for the third time; that they were still spiritually immature. They had obviously become Christians previously but were still reliant on someone to show them the way and were not making much progress. At some point after our new birth, we have to see that there is a bigger task. We are called to the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’”
Although this was directed to the apostles, it is also for us as we are disciples too. Let’s go back to my gardening. If I did not read the seed packets or labels on the flowers, or read gardening books or whatever I needed to do to learn about gardening, would I be a good person to seek knowledge about gardening from? Or would it be more productive to learn from an experienced person who has studied and practised gardening for years? That is discipleship! The apostles learned from their master Jesus, they did what He did and went where He went. They did not always get it right but they were determined to keep learning.
When we first give our lives to the Lord, we know very little but after a while, praying, studying, reading His word as well as learning through more experienced Christians, meeting together etc we begin to see that we are part of a large body who need to work together (1 Cor 12) . In Ephesians 4:11-13 it tells us that God has ordained various roles within the body of Christ for the benefit of the entire church. All members of the ‘Body of Christ’ have been given ministries for the ‘equipping of saints’. We are set aside for works of service, not just the ministers, pastors, elders or leaders of a church but all of us who love Christ and wish to serve Him.
Just like a child, when we come to Christ, we need to be nurtured and fed on milk but after a short while, a baby starts to practise and perfect many skills that are needed for growing up. Some practising can be more painful than others but I have never seen a 6-month-old with the skillsets of a newborn unless something is drastically wrong. Get rid of wrong attitudes or practice that hinders your walk. Model your life after Jesus. Pray, repent and overcome sin in your life, embrace His discipline, He is training you to be His child and sometimes correction hurts. How are you going to know if something is or is not of God if you don’t know God’s word? The Old Testament is a key to unlocking the New Testament, so both are important. Don’t just be a fan but be an ardent follower of Christ too. There are so many portraits of Christ in the Old Testament that help us to understand who He is and what our past, present and glorious future is. Such a rich tapestry that you will never get bored if you study it full of the Holy Spirit.
In this magazine, this year is about the Tabernacle. Have you grasped any of its’ rich significance so far and the picture of Jesus and things to come? Only when we enter through those first gates can we see how elaborate and beautiful the setup is. Can you see the cross in the design? All the world can see outside is an uninteresting fenced off area and possibly the top of the Holy of Holies. They cannot have a clue until they have to come into the inner courts, just as we did when we came to Christ, we can see the sacrificial altar where Christ was to be the sacrificial lamb. The beautiful bronze laver where we can now wash our sins away. On entering the Holy place we can see the magnificent light of the world in the massive candelabra. The table of the showbread, the nourishment of God for His people and the beautiful altar of incense which was to be burnt continuously, the beautiful smell of our perpetual prayers to God. Then when we finally go through the curtain to the Holy of Holies to the Mercy seat on Ark of the Covenant where God resides with His people and grace and mercy meet, we can only come into His tabernacle because of Jesus.
When we start to mature into our particular areas of service, we will all become united, building each other up, from the weakest to the strongest, from the youngest to the oldest into a beautiful unity and maturity that comes from fully following Christ, until we are ready to be with Him.