sunset-through-treeAs an Enterprise Architect for a major bank holding company in the South, I was continually challenged with changing the way people think about technology and the benefits it would bring to their business models.  The buzz phrase at the time was “helping people make a paradigm (pair-a-dime) shift in the way they do business”.  It was not easy to shift the paradigm of the business managers in such a conservative southern company, but those that embraced the change experienced incredible transformations in their businesses.  Christian Leaders in the Marketplace are similarly challenged with paradigm shifts – the renewing of the mind that results in transformation from glory to glory (Romans 12:2).

With this in mind, it’s important to recognize our tendency to think from the wrong tree – yes, the wrong tree. You know, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You see, we were not made to live, or think, from that tree. No, God created us for the Tree of Life; and the Life that is Christ. Let’s look at a couple of examples, beginning with Proverbs 13:22:

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

Thinking from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would say, “If I’m to be a good man, I must leave an inheritance for my grandchildren.” It’s kind of a side note, but what about my children? Anyway, that kind of thinking is grounded in judgment and the law; and Romans 8:2 tells us, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

As Christians, we have been set free from the law that is the strength of sin (1 Cor. 15:56), into the law of the Spirit of life. Thinking from the Tree of Life sees the promise of the verse and says, “If I am a good man (in Christ), my grandchildren will have an inheritance from me (through Christ).”  This is both liberating and instructional. My focus is not to be on the inheritance, but on becoming a good man (knowing Christ will make me one).

Here’s a couple more examples to make the point, and hopefully change your paradigm:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

As a Pastor, Elder or Ministry Leader, I might find myself focused on the need of an abundance for the good work that God has called me to do. I might spend my time raising, or waiting on, the abundance before even beginning the work. With this kind of thinking, I am defeated from the beginning, because the abundance is promised to the good work – not the other way around.  My attention should be focused on making (in Christ) the work good, and trusting God to provide the promised abundance.

Lastly, many are trapped by thinking from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when it comes to our relationship to Christ. In John 15, Jesus explains our relationship with Him as a vine that bears much fruit. We might think that our abiding is based on our bearing good fruit. It is a subtle but significant paradigm shift to recognize that the opposite is true:

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

The fruit comes from the abiding, and specifically from the Life that abiding brings. And lest anyone be confused, it is also that abiding that makes the obedience of John 15:10 possible. The Lord made this clear through the prophets:

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:25-27

I know this is a stretch for some. It just seems too easy, or not enough for the great benefit we’ve been given. But, you see, that’s the whole point.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. Galatians 2:20

And:

… for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

So what are we to do? I have learned, through God’s grace, that it is all in the choosing – choosing to abide, choosing to obey, choosing to die to my self – that the life of Christ might make me all that He has promised.

By the way, the choosing seems hard enough for any man or woman, and too hard for some.  Merciful Father, help us choose Life; in powerful name of Jesus Christ.

 

Your servant and His forever,