I dreamed myself in the stands of a football stadium. As I looked over the field, I saw a banner with the emblazoned Lion – Aslan – from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles across the field. I would soon know which team was represented by Aslan as it burst through the banner and onto the field. A leonine roar filled the stadium when what burst through the banner was no athletic team. Aslan Himself bounded onto the field and a thunderous voice of irrefutable authority boomed, “Do not mistake the representation for the reality.”
The message was clear. A banner depicting Aslan is good; the authentic King is the best. I remembered my old mentor saying – again and again – the good is the enemy of the best.
I come from a tradition believing God events – Holy Communion, Baptism, forgiveness or authentic prophecy – are the really real symbols of some aspect of the God we serve Who is active here. They represent God by participating in His life as well as in ours. At our best, however, we are not so foolish as to take the participating representation for the whole – just a taste. Communion is not the heavenly banquet; it whets the appetite by God’s gracious gifting. Yet some of my brothers become so caught up in the grand reality of God walking the earth with us in the act they forget the much grander and more personal reality. This Person loves to show us Himself but gets rather ticked off when we fail to look through the representation to He Who is represented. By stalling in the sacramental we risk trading Heaven’s Feast for Happy Hour. The good is indeed the enemy of the best.
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Californians have been praying for drought relief the past four years. In late 2014 some of us kicked prayer to a new level when we took seriously God’s call to repentance in 2 Chronicles 7:14. A grassroots day of repentance – meant to be more season than 24-hour day, in the spirit of the Hebrew yom or day – began to shape. Eventually a cross section of the entire West Coast – including British Columbia – became committed to daily prayer over our history of shedding innocent blood, sexual sin, covenant breaking and idolatries of various types. That was the good. The best was the more positive refocus of attention on God Himself – in the Person of His Son through the power of His Spirit – that alone prepares us for the present-in-its-infancy Great Awakening. The fruit is tremendous.
Rain and snow are abundant in California despite meteorologists’ predictions of snowfall even more impoverished than recent years. Lakes and reservoirs continued to fill even after El Nino was declared spent. In addition, members of the state legislature speak of a new and cleansing-the-atmosphere spirit of respect for the Word of God in assembly and senate – a bipartisan spirit. More and more Christians are running for office – not to govern by dogma but to bless culture with the integrity for which Christians ought always to be known.
In my city alone more than 50 successful startup businesses are reported launched this past year. Last but not least, the entertainment industry has released at least nine films and an infusion of television programs over 90 days (or so) overtly honoring God while presenting their art with excellence. More are promised. All this fruit is good; it is very good. But is it the best?
All these did not begin in 52 days of repentance. They began in the context of prayer – and walking out the visions cast and the expertise exercised – over several difficult years. There were anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand consistently participating in the events. I would be the last one arrogant enough to say, “Look at me and a movement I visioned and proclaimed.” Yet I would be the first to say these phenomena came to presence in the wake of a 2 Chronicles season of repentance climaxed in events like the rolling days of repentance. I will trumpet while I have breath that these things are gifts from God requiring human participation – not generation – and that we still have a lot of shedding of blood, sexual immorality, covenant breaking and substituting representations of God for God Himself – idolatry – to acknowledge. More importantly, we have an ongoing opportunity and obligation to keep refocusing on God instead of saying, “Been there; done that.” This is the heart of repentance, and its necessity until the Lord returns.
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The good is indeed the enemy of the best. And our God really is a lion. The Lion of Judah.
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