How It Really Works
In the following transcription from a live talk, Page urges us to move by faith beyond “the baby stuff (Hebrews 6) and the adolescent stage,” of the exchanged life to “pick up the ‘work’ of a father.”
I love to be given the opportunity to speak. The Apostle Paul says: “Of this church I was made a minister, according to the stewardship of God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God” (Col. 1:25). So God does mean for us to speak to groups, and I love it.
But I am not fooled by what it accomplishes. It seems to me that very little ever seems to be caught and understood–resulting in a changed life–by listening to a speaker talk.
Where I see lives being changed is in what takes place when you and I give this message out to others in the one-to-one, day-in day-out relationships (whether by long distance or close at hand). People really seem to catch onto this message when they work through it with someone else.
I have run into lots of people who know who they are in Christ. But as a whole, our message at this time is most unpopular. Part of the reason, in my estimation, that the message has been so unpopular is that people have been taking bits and snatches of a total truth and have gotten stuck on just this point or that point or another point, and what they’ve got doesn’t come full circle into the total truth. And what they have isn’t working.
Cutting with Half a Pair of Scissors
I will tell you this: if this truth is not working for you, you don’t have the full circle either. What happens when you don’t have the whole thing and you have bits and snatches? What happens when you grab one part and miss another? It’s like someone says to you, “Here’s a pair of scissors, here’s a pattern, go cut out a dress.” The problem is, you see, you’ve gotten just one side of a pair of scissors and you can’t figure out why you can’t get the dress cut.
Time after time, the thing that I find the hardest is continually being asked questions and confronted with things that are half-truths. People will say, “Yes, I know Christ in me as me, but I just can’t cope.” Or some variation like, “Tell me how to cope…tell me how to deal with my new baby…tell me how to deal with my new job.” Or, someone will say, “I haven’t had a job for six months, or two or three years; how can I cope with that?” And they just seem to want an answer for whatever their problem is.
If you’ve got a problem in your life and you haven’t caught on to the secret, you want to deal with the problem. For years and years, we’ve talked to each other, we’ve talked in our minds, and we’ve talked to other people about our problems and struggles. And that’s why we might think this message doesn’t work. Because concentrating on the problem just isn’t the answer.
You see, the way you begin to make this total truth work in you is that instead of concentrating on the problem (I just can’t cope), instead of saying “that’s not me,” you need to begin to focus on what I call the “front end of the sentence.”
Let me ask you–when we say something like, “I just can’t cope,” who are we talking about? Haven’t we many times said in our minds that the person we’re talking about is “just me” or “there I go again”?
But what’s the real truth about the “I” in that sentence? Isn’t it that there has never been a “just me” and that saying “there I go again” is just saying a lie about ourselves?
You never were, and you never will be, a “just me.” If you are born again, you are a Christ/you–a union that can never be separated. You’re not independent–that’s Satan’s lie, and the truth about you is that you’re a Christ/l. So when you say the “I,” if you leave it at “it’s just me,” you are not going to be able to make life work.
The Missing Piece
To say, “That’s not who I am, I’m not a non-coping person” when you are thinking a thought like “I just can’t cope,” is still using only half the pair of scissors to cut out the dress. You’ve got to look back at the beginning of that thought to the very first word. You’ve got to see that the “I” you are describing is not “just me” and it’s not “just Christ.” It’s “Christ/you.”
And if Christ and you are one, and that’s who you are, then He’s the One living the life. But then, do you just sit there when the negative thoughts come up and think to yourself, “This isn’t who I am,” and then expect Christ to live the life out? That hasn’t been my experience.
You see, the reason we can get up and do the work and live the life, make the life work, do the hard stuff, do the things we’ve always wanted to do but were scared to try and thought we couldn’t—isn’t because we say, “Well, that’s not who I am, I am not…. ”
I think it’s great for us to be able to say that about ourselves. It was wonderful for me to know that I am not a scared person. It was wonderful for me to know that I wasn’t an idiot and a drip and all the stuff I had always thought about myself. And I’m sure it’s been wonderful for you. But if you’re going to move out, and get off your you-know-what, and start getting this truth into somebody else, you’ve got to catch onto the other side of the equation and say, “This (Christ/I) is who I am–this is me.”
I woke up one morning thinking about all this, and thinking about the first time Norman spoke to us and said, “Take the ‘ought’ and ‘should’ out of your vocabulary.” I wondered how it all fit together.
You see, when we are just starting out and are just learning who we really are, it’s wonderful to know we can take “shoulds” and “oughts” out of our vocabulary. It’s a great relief. But it is just as glorious for me now to know that I can go somewhere when I don’t feel like I want to. In the early days I didn’t do things like that very much. Probably you wouldn’t have either. We couldn’t because we were just catching onto who we are in Christ, and we were living up to the degree of light we had been given. And we would say things like, “If God wants it done, He’s just going to have to make me do it.”
Of course our big news is “the mystery which has been hidden from the ages, Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). But if you look a little further, here is what Paul is really all about: “And we proclaim Him, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present every man complete (perfect) in Christ. And for this purpose I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me” (Col. 1:28,29).
The book of I John talks about children, young men, and fathers. Or as I paraphrase it “babies, adolescents and grownups.” And an adolescent, if you’ve ever lived with one, just sort of goes with how he feels. He can start out the night with the full intention of studying, and then a friend comes by, and the next thing you know they’ve hopped in the car and they’ve gone. No more studying for tonight. But there comes a day when an adolescent has to grow up.
What do fathers and mothers do when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night? Do Mom and Dad go by their whims? Do they say, “Don’t put ‘should’ and ‘ought’ on me, and don’t put me under the law!? No, of course not. They do what has to be done.
You see, when I got settled in who I was, I had to move on past the baby stuff (Hebrews 6) and the adolescent stage, and pick up the ”work” of a father. As a father, I am operating from the knowledge that Christ and I are one, and because this is me, the scary, bad word ”work” isn’t a scary, bad word anymore.
Once you become settled about who you are, that you are in an inseparable union with Christ (Christ/I), then you can put those words back into your vocabulary. I’m telling you, I (Christ/Page) do a lot of ”shoulds and oughts.”
My trip to England is a great example. When it was time for me to go, I wanted to stay home. I had been gone from home all summer already, and I was homesick. But, you see, I wanted to go to England; I knew I had to go, and there was a drive in me to go. And yet there was something else in me, pulling against the whole thing. While I was over there, I had to take it one day at a time–I couldn’t even count off the days as they went by–because I felt so homesick (everything being foreign around me didn’t help either).
What worked, what kept me going, was not just knowing that I am not my feeling-–that goes without saying because Christ and I are one. But it wasn’t just saying, ”I am not my feelings.” And it also wasn’t ”just Christ” living out the life, doing the things, talking to people, and adjusting to a different culture, different weather, different language, and different food. If it was, I could have just stayed in bed with the hot water bottle they fixed for me and had a glorious time, and when it was time, He and I would have caught the jet and come home. The trick is, HE WALKS IT OUT IN AND THROUGH ME!!!!
The glory of the mystery is not just me and how I am and how I was made, and what I’m to do. And the glory of the mystery is not just God either. The glory of the mystery is the incarnation: Jesus Christ, THE PERSON OF GOD IN ME, IN MY BODY.
So it’s not just me. And it’s not just Christ. It’s me dying, and then Him living out the life through me. The dying for me comes when my feelings rise up, and the enemy (who is outside of me) yells at me, trying to get me to believe that my feelings are me. Then I come back at him with the knowing, a subconscious consciousness, that says, ”But that isn’t me (Christ/me).”
The reason it’s a death to you and a death to me is that He does the work out through me, through my humanity–my soul and body. He walks this life out through me. He walks it out through you. And the dying is me living from the reality that it’s He living, walking, and doing through me. And because of that, you and I can do our ”oughts and shoulds.”
People, we’ve got to keep moving on. We’ve got to begin to pick up the work of the Father and take up His burden to present ”every man complete (perfect) in Christ.”
You and I need to ask ourselves, ”Do I really know this message? Can I work it in myself to the point that I can work with another human being, a God-creation, and see this same truth come forth and lived out in that person?” That’s what Paul meant when he said, “For this purpose I labor, striving according to his power which mightily works within me” (Col. 1:29).
When he started Campus Crusade for Christ, Bill Bright said something like this: “You’ll know that someone’s conversion is real when you see them giving out this new life in Christ to someone else.” It’s that same principle that we’re talking about here: knowing our union with Christ well enough that, not only are we working it in our own lives, but we’re helping others work it into their lives. That’s what I believe God has called us to do.
My challenge to myself, and to you is, “Do you know it that well? Can you make the life work enough in you so that you can pass it on?”