22 Sep 2001

Christian Answer Man

Submitted by theshovel
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But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 1 Peter 3:15

I was taught that I needed to have an answer for every God-related question anyone might ask me. For a few years I strove to achieve that ridiculous goal in the desperate attempt to become the ultimate "Answer Man". Guess what I really learned? I learned how to accumulate answers, and how to match my answers to other people's questions. Of course, it wasn't at all surprising to find that my accumulated answers often clashed with the accumulated answers of others.

Something in me knew there was something wrong with always being right - especially when MY right didn't fare too well against somebody else's right. :) You know, I think what bothered me the most was that in striving to have all the answers I was becoming just like one of those people I vowed never to become, for I was becoming less of a real person. This discontent pushed me to examine the Biblical proof text. What I discovered is that it stated NOTHING about having all the answers, or even having a few of the answers. The answer it speaks of is not scholastic in nature, nor is it a response to a Biblical or theological question. For the answer touches on the bottom-line reality of Christ in you.

This simple answer makes perfect sense within its own letter. The people Peter wrote to had been treated harshly by a world that lived according to an unspoken law: No good deed goes unpunished. It is only illusion that makes us assume that has really changed. To capture some of what they were going through just consider the last time you were ridiculed for telling the truth, and then, how you answered it. Were you prepared to give the REAL reason for your behavior or did you get caught off guard and offer some pathetic moralistic excuse? The world understands morals, it does NOT understand LIFE. Fear pushes us to choose the cheap way out, while confidence that Christ is our life - sanctify the Lord God in your hearts - is what prepares us to give the real reason for the hope that is within us.

This verse doesn't demand any believer to have all the answers, instead it is the religious mind that has imposed this demand. While I was trying to do what the Bible said I was actually only doing what my teachers taught me to do. I responded by teaching others to do the same. Now the problem is not necessarily the answers themselves for many may be quite accurate. No, the problem is that most of our answers rarely touch the real stuff of life that happens right in front of us. Having all the answers is only a smoke-screen, but real life cuts through it all.

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Posted: September 22, 2001 by Richard

Hi Jim,

Re: "The Christian Answer Man":

I couldn't agree with you more.

The insatiable drive within our flesh, the craving to be seen and heard (especially if one thinks one has something to say) is a peculiar thing. It's as if believers have this relentless urge to be validated or affirmed, all in the guise of teaching, sharing, preaching or whatever else you want to call it. It's interesting to observe how many have a tendency to gravitate towards those who have "a way with words". The "OOOs" and "AHHs" are dripping all over the place, yet there is seldom mention on the part of the 'gifted' writers that it's not THEIR cleverness or insightfulness doing the communicating but simply the Christ within them ; furthermore, the irony is that it's the VERY SAME Christ in the ones doing the 'OOOing' and 'AHHing'! Sometimes I honestly wonder how any individual who is beginning to see the revelation of Christ as his/her only life, could ever move forward in a walk with the Lord without all of the so-called insights the "Word and Answer People" seem impelled to shell out to them. A friend of mine who in my opinion addresses this issue expressed it thus:

«They rather banter in order to display their plumage of knowledge. They mostly seek knowledge and thus have little reality in fellowship - not much life flows from them.»

For the benefit of all believers, especially me, I long for the day when men and women are mere shadows in the light of the ONE who is our TRUE identity.

Matthew 17: 1-8
And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. (vs.8)

Oh, for the reality of His life to so shine in and through EACH of us! What a day it would be if we believers could recognize the true and real treasure of CHRIST within our vessels - not the jars of clay, no matter how charming, witty, perky, insightful, articulate or handsome some of the clay appears to be! What a thrill it would be to see individual believers have their eyes opened wide to the reality and truth of their identity in Christ, no longer bemoaning, "If I could only put it like so-and-so does..." as if to pay homage to some 'anointed' individual.

Good Shoveletter, Jim.


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Dan

Hi Jim I thank God for His grace working deep in peoples hearts .I long for the day when we all come into the unity of the faith in Jesus Christ. There are many times when knowledge I have been taught has got in the way of just letting God love that person threw me.I thank the Heavenly Father that His living word is in us teaching us to rest in Him.I thank Him for you and all those He is being to our true indentity in Christ Jesus.Love


Posted: September 22, 2001 by the shovel

Richard, my dear boy, you have addressed the very element that keeps the illusion of levels of importance thriving amongst those who have all been made one in Christ. What a contradiction, isn't it? I write this as one who understands well that insatiable drive for validation!!

I FEEL Paul's words at the end of the 2nd Corinthian letter where he described his begging requests to God for Him to remove the thing that caused him to become so blasted weak and ineffective in the flesh. I remember hearing years ago that the word the KJV translated "thrice" did not simply mean "three", but implied a continuation as in three or more (similar to the word "few"). This, I can understand, for I doubt Paul merely held up at three requests. And I'm sure his prayers made the transition from a more proper and noble sounding request to that of one who was at his wits end and simply begging and pleading to be rid of it all. I mean, how would it affect a man who asks for more strength only to be given more weakness? Is it any wonder that Paul was able to stand against those who took pride in the flesh since he was brought to see its utter worthlessness? Is it any wonder he told the Corinthians that he had determined to know NOTHING among them except Christ and Him crucified?

I am convinced that the only powerful words spoken are those that declare how the real power of God has made all of us complete TOGETHER. :)


Posted: September 22, 2001 by HumblyHis

Great! I have stuggled with this myself. I'm an encourager, and when people come to me, I myself stuggle with having to have all the right answers. The Truth is that Christ does have all the answers, and that we need to rest in the work of the cross of Christ, his grace is sufficient even when we do not know all of lifes answers. I'm learning to tell people I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that Christ will not abandon us, and He will be faithful. So when our world spins out of control, we are to know that Christ is with us, and for us, and not against us, and has given us all things, and will turn everything around for good!


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Gregg

Jim, your shoveletters really help nurture me in the life of Christ in me! Thanks.

When I don't know an answer to a "spiritual" question, why do I struggle in trying to cover up? It is because I am not resting in the full acceptance of the Beloved. I am seeking acceptance (or at least no rejection) from humans. Oh, but to rest in the Faithful One in His finished work through the cross!

Love is a fruit of Christ's life in us (Galatians 5:22). So, what is the most loving thing to do when I don't know an answer to a "spiritual" question? To stumble around for an anwer? No. But to trust Christ to enable me to say "I don't know," and to trust that He is the Answer through that "non-answer," that the fragrance of His life is in that REAL answer. Oh, but to be free to be myself in union with Christ! I am seeing that people respond to people being REAL. Even when my hands sweat and my knees shake when confronted with a "spiritual" question. I believe that people are drawn to Christ Himself in that apparent "weakness." Christ can deal with any question...it's not up to me...and that's GRACE. We can simply "stand" in grace, as opposed to "looking frantically for answers" in grace.

Even all the answers to all the good questions regarding the September 11th tragedies just don't make sense to me when there is no reference to Christ and His finished work through the cross. We can never truly understand the love of God and the judgment of God apart from the finished work of Christ on the cross. I don't understand sooooo much about the reasons for and responses to the tragedies, but God is truly nurturing me in the life of Christ in me during this time.

A Christian who lives legalistically will say that the statement "Christ is the Answer" is a platitude with no practical application. A Christian who is growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ will increasingly see glimpses of the glory of true LIFE in that statement. It's not up to me (my efforts apart from Christ) to convince the "legalist" (which is not his true identity if he is a Christian) of the indwelling and overflowing LIFE. My true heart is that the "legalist" will see Christ's LIFE in and through me. Yes, there will be times when I (in union with Christ) will have a great answer, but even that is the fragrant LIFE of Christ. It's not the words in the answer that will make a difference, but the LIFE in the words. A living Word!

Just thinking out loud...thanks again...


Posted: September 22, 2001 by the shovel

« Jim, your shoveletters really help nurture me in the life of Christ in me! Thanks »

Now THAT is a true encouragement to me as I declare the reality of Christ because it witnesses of the true life that is in both of us! We are to each other as that "sweet savor" - the scent of victory!! Thank you so much for the life you have expressed of the obvious working of the Spirit within you. :)

Love,


Posted: September 22, 2001 by the shovel

« I'm learning to tell people I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that Christ will not abandon us, and He will be faithful. »

Hey, it sounds like God Himself has been teaching you this stuff!! :) His teaching always turns our eyes to Christ and away from an information-based learning. Of course, there's nothing wrong with accurate information except that we often get caught up in those information wars!!

Thanks for the encouragement of your life, bro!! :)


Posted: September 22, 2001 by the shovel

« There are many times when knowledge I have been taught has got in the way of just letting God love that person threw me. »

Hello Dan,

Thanks for the fantastic response!! :) What an excellent description of what Paul worded, "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up"!!! The love of God in you is obviously resisting the emptiness of plain knowledge. Isn't that wonderful? :)


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Steve R

Shalom,

Hey Jim... "The Christian Answer Man" is anointed! I think you just
saved me years of wasting time. I find myself doing just that! )being
that answer-man)

I laughed until almost crying! This one REALLY hit a heartstring, Jim.
thanks. Keep up the good work! (what IS the good work?..... you tell me!. Probably keeping in His Word, and consciously attempting to keep an open mind and heart to His Truth.??)


Posted: September 22, 2001 by the shovel

« I laughed until almost crying! »

What an incredible relief that expresses to me, Steve!! What a sweet laughter that must have been to the very heart of God within you.

Love, Jim


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Dan

Hi again Jim the Spirit of Christ is following the fellowship threw your website and it is opening my eye more to the Christ in us . Love


Posted: September 22, 2001 by WES

Jim, The organization I "belonged to" was one of the best at "defending the faith". We were to be able to explain to everyone why we believed, with evidence from the bible, as well as from archeological / scientific proofs, etc., etc., etc. We were being trained as God's attorneys! We were apologists of the first order! Only problem was, though we knew God as a specimen, or as a Client to defend, few of us seemed to know Him as a living Person. We were also God's salesmen. I often felt like we were pushing used cars or hawking fake jewelry, instead of telling folks about the Lord. Yeah, I met many good debaters and pitchmen (one guys name was WES), but I rarely met anyone who could have an intelligent conversation about the One we were so hyped up to explain and sell...


Posted: September 22, 2001 by the shovel

Wes, thanks for writing! :)

You're describing much of the same techniques I learned. Our "personal evangelism" course was often likened to making a sale, especially how we were to "make the close" as if it were a "transaction". How we "closed the sale" could determine the eternal destiny of those we spoke to. I hated the feeling that I was supposed to be selling something (even though we called it a free gift).

Jim


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Mary

Jim, Wow! What a word... This is awesome brother. So we dont have to have all the answers after all huh, thats such a relief! I love this so much more than the B---- answer man who makes me barf... hehe


Posted: September 22, 2001 by the shovel

« So we dont have to have all the answers after all huh, thats such a relief! I love this so much more than the B---- answer man who makes me barf... hehe »

Mary, I understand that sense of relief!! :) yahoo!!! It has been a relief in so many ways. Not only did I not have to come up with an answer for everybody else's questions, I didn't have to come up with answers for all of my own questions!!

When I was in Bible College we were instructed that if the question came our way we were obligated to provide an answer. Now, these teachers knew we didn't know all the answers so their solution was simple: tell the person something to the effect that even though we didn't know the answer right then we would find out and then get back to them. That sounds so honest, doesn't it? All it did was to make us dependent upon the collected wisdom of our Bible College teachers. After all, who did we run to?

Of course there's NOTHING inherently wrong with asking those you respect for some insight on something that stumps you, but consider the whole process together. We were under the gun to come up with the "right" answer to give to the person who had asked it. Well, since we were taught that God demanded this of us and also taught that God would provide answers if we asked, did it even cross our minds that the answer we got from the person we asked was not the "right" answer? And then when we got back to the person who asked the question in the first place and gave him/her the answer we received, didn't that only help seal the matter for us since we felt an obligation to stand by the answer we gave? It's the concept, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it." routine made popular by the movie, "Beverly Hills Cop", where the Police Chief tells an elaborate made-up story to cover Eddie Murphy's butt.

It was pure manipulation promoted under the guise of "winning souls for Christ". I'm not suggesting that we weren't "sincere" in our desire to "win the world for Christ", but we allowed ourselves to be blind-sided to so many things that grated against everything within us. The simple fact is that a truly accurate Bible answer does not replace LIFE, and the truly accurate answer will DEMAND that this is the case!!

I've stated this in many ways but I think it's worth repeating: the MAIN thing that has convinced me that the Bible is NOT our "answer book", or our "text book", or our "owner's manual", or that it in itself is NOT the life, is the Bible itself. That's right! The BIBLE tells me not to put my trust in IT, but in CHRIST who is the focus of its testimony. The BIBLE tells me that it DECLARES the righteousness of God that has now been put within us!! And I LOVE its testimony. I can't help but see it EVERYWHERE I examine its pages.

Love,


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Mary

« I've stated this in many ways but I think it's worth repeating: the MAIN thing that has convinced me that the Bible is NOT our "answer book", or our "text book", or our "owner's manual", or that it in itself is NOT the life, is the Bible itself. That's right! The BIBLE tells me not to put my trust in IT, but in CHRIST who is the focus of its testimony. The BIBLE tells me that it DECLARES the righteousness of God that has now been put within us!! And I LOVE its testimony. I can't help but see it EVERYWHERE I examine its pages. »

Jim. Oh man this is wonderful! thankyou so much! I have struggled so much with people saying the bible is our guidebook and so on, and telling people what to do using verses to prove their point. there never is life in that. I've done the same thing, thats what I was taught to do. Thats what alwasy got me in troubl, i didnt go to God for myself and ask Him, I just listend to what they told me from the pulpit or from christian books...I wonder how many of those christian books out there are really worth what we pay for reading them. I love reading the bible, I love it, I loved it as a child, and i love it now. I didnt read it for many years, never opened it. But I can read it now and not be condemned, i can read it now and see grace.


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Lorna

Way to go Jim. I loved this letter! It's amazing that we study and change our minds constantly about what we thought we had the answers to before. Will we ever get it all figured out? Probably not.... The mind get "reknowed" all the time the great confidence is in Christ. I'm sure he had it all figured out for us and there is where we can hope in the truth of the gospel :)


Posted: September 22, 2001 by the shovel

Lorna, so fantastic to hear from you!!! :)

« It's amazing that we study and change our minds constantly about what we thought we had the answers to before. Will we ever get it all figured out? Probably not.... The mind get "reknowed" all the time the great confidence is in Christ. I'm sure he had it all figured out for us and there is where we can hope in the truth of the gospel :) »

Somehow we keep hanging onto the idea that understanding the Bible is the key to "spirituality" and that the Spirit was given almost primarily to "illumine" our understanding of "Scripture" so that we can know God. Boy, do we have it all BACKWARD, huh? You know, the Bible tells me that the Spirit was given so that we would know God DIRECTLY!! As long as we are thinking it is the other way then we will be seeing our "knowledge of God" as if it is hinged upon how well we understand the Bible, and we will try to relate to Him upon that BOGUS idea.

Thanks so much for writing, Lorna!!!

Love,


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Scott

'The world understands morals, it does NOT understand LIFE.'

This might be one of the most enlightening things I have read from you.

You can live a moral life, but that doesn't mean you have LIFE! Matter of fact, one would probably be as dead as the immoral, as neither have LIFE.

Their is a big difference between living a moral life, and having the LIFE that is perfectly moral, that being the life of Christ.

Peace.


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Sherri

James, another breath of fresh air in the midst of so much staleness!! : )

"The answer it speaks of is not scholastic in nature, nor is it a response to a Biblical or theological question. For the answer touches on the bottom-line reality of Christ in you."

CHRIST IN YOU!! The mystery REVEALED!! : ) We find ourselves caught up in the 'search' for the answers with the rest of the world, as if we had and/or have no answer, but ... GOD HIMself has given us the Answer ... HIS very LIFE is ours! HE HIMself is ours! HIS very Person!! This is incredible to the world, but it is supranatural and miraculous in and to us who have been made partakers of HIS own Divine nature! : )

"The world understands morals, it does NOT understand LIFE."

Wonderful distinction! : )

"... confidence that Christ is our life - "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts" - is what prepares us to give the real reason for the hope that is within us."

He, Himself being that very Hope, as there is no other! : )

"...it is the religious mind that has imposed this demand."

Yes, the mind that is desperate to seek for any answer BUT Christ!! The mind that is seperated FROM Christ ... Christ-less. That is who we once were, but are no more, for we have the very Mind of Christ!

Thank you Mr. Shovel man for always drawing our attention and affections to HIM ... the One and only True Answer ... the One and only True Hope!!

By the way, those quotes are more good ones for your Shovelquotes and Shovelcards! : )

Love you shovelsfull and overflowing!! : )
She-shovel


Posted: September 22, 2001 by Richard

She-shovel it's good to see you again!!

Wonderful husband (Richard) lover of Margi the beautiful!

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Random Shovelquote: False Assumptions about Knowledge (view all shovelquotes)

We only think we can't understand Christ because of a lack of knowledge, and we only assume another can understand because he knows more than we do!   source