I’ve been studying The Epistle to the Hebrews using, among other references, Andrew Murray’s “Holiest of All: A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews”. I quoted from it last week and have decided to do so again this week. I have not moved much beyond Chapter Thirty-One which is entitled “Rest from Works”. I understand the truth of “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20) but living this truth out in my day to day life is a challenge. It is I who gets up every morning, gets ready, and then goes to work. I am the one people are interacting with every day. I hold on to that awareness of Christ in me but it is I who gets tired, it is I whose feelings get hurt, and it is I who is tempted to lose her temper. I am diligent to enter into His rest and do not want to fail to do so through disobedience (Hebrews 4:11), but how do I do it? What does it look like?
In order to enter His rest I must first see it and the only way to see it is to have the Holy Spirit open my eyes and to show me, as Andrew Murray says; “Jesus as our Joshua, who has entered into God’s presence, who sits upon the throne as High Priest, bringing us in living union with Himself into that place of rest and of love and, by His Spirit within us, making that life of heaven a reality and an experience”. At the end of Chapter Thirty-Two which is Andrew Murray’s exposition on Hebrews 4:11, he says; “Jesus said, ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls’ (Matthew 11:29). It was through meekness and lowliness of heart that Jesus found His rest in God. He allowed God to be all, trusted God for all-the rest of God was His abode. He invites us to share HIs rest and tells us the secret. In the meekness and lowliness of Jesus is the way to rest.”
I understand. I fix my eyes on Jesus. I take His yoke and am lead by Him. I learn of Him. I know this to be true but neither can I deny I don’t always manage to perfectly live my life out of His. Learning of Him is a process. I have heard many teachers speak of this life in Jesus as a process but don’t think anyone described it as well as Andrew Murray. In his chapter notes at the end of Chapter Thirty-One, he says; “’Not I, but Christ” (Galatians 2:20 KJV). This is the rest of faith in which a man rests from his works. With the unconverted man it is “Not Christ, but I.” With the feeble and slothful Christian, “I and Christ: I first, and Christ to fill up what is wanting.” With increasing earnestness it becomes, “Christ and I: Christ first, but I still second.” With the man who dies with Christ it is, “Not I, but Christ:’ Christ alone and Christ all.” He has ceased from his work: Christ lives in Him. This is the rest of faith.” This description arrested me and I’ve spent a couple of weeks now pondering it.
I can’t remember ever being unconverted and being in the “Not Christ, but I” mindset. My family moved a lot and church attendance was sporadic but my Mom made sure I was taught of the Lord. In terms of works, there are times I have acted selfishly and have been rebellious but I don’t remember ever thinking I could do whatever I liked because there was no God.
I spent way too much time in the “I and Christ: I first, and Christ to fill up what is wanting” mindset. I thought it was right. As I got older, life got more structured, and I started regularly attending church, I was taught this was how the Christian life worked. The Bible laid out what my works were to be, I did them, and Jesus would bolster me when my strength failed. There were so many times when I “stepped out in faith” believing for my healing and every time I crashed and burned. This, of course, meant I was double minded, had doubted, and thus Jesus couldn’t heal me. My failure was proof I didn’t have enough faith because; couldn’t I do all things through Christ who strengthened me? If He wasn’t strengthening me, then I had failed somewhere. I knew of no alternative though because “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17) so I had to keep on.
I find a perfect description of how I felt in Andrew Murray’s book. Speaking of Christians, he says: “Their life is one of earnest effort and ceaseless struggling. They long to do God’s will and to live to His glory. Continued failure and bitter disappointment is their too frequent experience. Very often, as the result, they give themselves up to a feeling of hopelessness: ‘It will never be otherwise.’ Theirs is truly the wilderness life-they have not entered into God’s rest.”
What a joy to see that it is not “I and Christ” and “Christ to fill up what is wanting”! How I rejoice that He has shown me that I live by His life, His faith, His guidance, His strength. I enter His rest and it is made a reality within me by His Spirit. Since I know this is my reality, I had difficulty understanding what Andrew Murray meant by “Christ and I: Christ first, but I still second.” Surely not. I had ceased from my works and was utterly submitted to Christ. I was already living in the “Not I but Christ” mindset, wasn’t I? Yes and no. I got to thinking of some recent experiences and, in remembering them, I think I have come to an understanding of what Andrew Murray means by “Christ and I: Christ first, but I second.”
While I would like my circumstances to be different, I cannot be sorry for them. They have been the vehicle through which God has revealed Himself to me. When He is ready, He will change them and, until then, so be it: I am submitted to the Spirit of God living within me. I do that which He has put in my hands to do and serve those He has put in my life to serve. Then there comes the moment when the person I’m delighting to serve overlooks the hundred things I have done and comes up with a hundred and first that I have not. They are a little disappointed-not much, mind you-but still disappointed that I didn’t even think of the one thing that was most important to them which I ought to have done if I really cared about them. They are disappointed and maybe a little hurt.
Here is where I feel the “Christ first, but I second”. Having just been blindsided, I am angry. All the past hurts and put downs I’ve let go come rushing back. The moment I can get by myself, I lay it all before God. Does He hear how this person talks to me? Does He see how I am treated? I do not serve to be thanked-I do all things as unto the Lord-but neither has He called me to be a doormat. When is it time to shake the dust off my feet and move on to better things? I am submitted to Him. I listen for His voice and strive to obey in all things, but don’t my feelings matter? Christ first, but I second?
No. Not I at all but Christ and He alone. My feelings do matter and because I know He loves me and they matter, I can take my hurt and seething rage and pour it out to Him. He listens, He soothes, and then He invites me to enter into His thoughts and feelings. He shows me the situation from His perspective where I matter so much He gave His life for me just as He gave His life for the person who has wronged me.
I know who I am in Christ. I know what I am worth because of what Jesus has done. No one can affect this truth. There are many who don’t know and I am to live the reality of “Not I but Christ” every moment, no matter what. I am to see that what He did for me, He did for everyone else. He loves the person who has hurt me just as much as He loves me. I choose not to allow my Self to rule. I remember that I am not only crucified with Christ but risen with Him. Everything He has He gives to me. My life is hid in His. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. I exchange the wilderness life of my own works for the rest life in which God does His perfect work. Jesus came to give it. His rest is mine.
All scripture quotes are from:
The New King James Version of The Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
All Andrew Murray quotes are from:
Murray, Andrew, Holiest of All: A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews, Whitaker House, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, 1996, 2004, Chapters Thirty-One and Thirty-Two, Pages 163-170