By Fred Pruitt
Some have wondered why we travel as we do from place to place, usually meeting with small groups, and even sometimes just one person.
Here are some excerpts from some past travelogues I’ve written that give a synopsis of our reasons and the issues of importance that compel us.
1. Why We Travel — The Compulsion of Love
John and I are continually asking this question: why are we doing this? And now seems appropriate to delve into it again. We had had a long rest between the end of our fall trip and the beginning of January. Life is comfortable at home, and certainly neither of us are past being “needed” at home for various father and husband responsibilities. Our wives love us and I like to think pine for us just a little when we’re gone. We pine for them, too (but we’re men and we don’t talk about it).
But why get up out of this comfort zone and go ride around in a little car all over the country staying in houses with people we often don’t know? It would be answering a simple question if we had some tangible product we were selling, something you could hold in your hand, or at least a “program” you could apply. And that this tangible “product” would produce quantifiable guaranteed results. Or that we were building some structure that we could point to and measure our progress. But we “have” none of that, and offer only a Person (God in Jesus Christ) as the foundation and daily reality of life, and bring only ourselves as we are in Christ, and we trust that He lives as us.
So the first answer to why, is the first answer that came to us, causing all the other answers: it is the compulsion of the Spirit, which is a drive of love. Before we ever got in the car, there was the drive of the Spirit to get out to wherever we could to give what God had given us.
Each successive step has come from the preceding one. With each step, we know a little more, and also ask a little more. I understand more what Paul meant when he said in Philippians 3: “Not as though I have already attained.” It isn’t a “self” attainment, some higher degree of sanctity, that Paul is talking about, but rather the constant seeking of love to fill places with itself. Love does not rest because it is its nature to go out of itself, away from its own comfort, to only find release and rest in expending itself in reproduction of itself.
What John and I are learning (and sharing hopefully) through all these travels and visits, is not something special jusy to us and “revealed” to us because we’re out “doing God’s work,” but we are only learning and living what is happening in all of us in our regular daily lives, each and every day. The “love drive” I speak of which compels us to do what we do, is the same “love drive” in each of us, which compels us all who are in Him, to do what we do. Christ has come into us to be, first of all, foremost and foundational to everything, the Love of God in us. The true “other-love.” And this is what we find to be true every moment of every day — that He by our lives is manifesting in the world around us as love.
He’s the water, and we’re the structure people come to to draw the water from — the well. Which is the final purpose of our going, that these wells would spring up everywhere where there have been only deserts before. The wells are ourselves in Christ and He in us, each of us the starting points for innumerable rivers of living water flowing out of each of our middles, to water and bless the world.
In a nutshell, that’s all we’ve been sent out to share. And we are finding hearing ears everywhere we go.
2. The Real Problem and the Real Solution
We must always emphasize that our life in Him is not freedom for freedom’s sake, but freedom to be Who He is as a lamb slain, one whose life is laid down and spent for the life of others, that as He is a perpetual intercessor so are we. Just as He is the Great High Priest whose office is to eternally reconcile not just us but all the cosmos to God, in the same way in Him we are we priests unto God to reconcile our worlds to God.
That is perhaps high-falutin’ language and it is easy to get caught up in such heady stuff as if those offices are special “things” to be grasped, and then get into kooky ideas and outlandish activities, but what is really the truth is that they are not necessarily special things we do in any way, but are instead the groans and travails placed upon us by the Spirit in the midst of our everyday lives. These groans and travails are what we experience in our own selves, in the lives of our family members, in our friends or in our communities, or the problems in our countries and in our whole world. Everyone of us is under the stress and strain of every bit of that. It takes no special seeking to participate in the daily burden of living — and it likewise takes no special seeking to participate in bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, which results in the life of Jesus being manifest in our mortal flesh. We are He in the world and as such we experience the world as He.
The next two days we spent going over the same things with folks that we always go over, answering the same questions which people ask everywhere. It is a temptation to us to sometimes tire of the same questions, the same issues, and the often difficulty we experience from people who have a hard time understanding what we are saying. It often seems tedious or laborious and sometimes hard to put our finger on concrete results. We have no yardstick to measure by and therefore as we do this over and over day after day, we are continually pressed into God in faith, as a continuing “seeing Him who is invisible,” Who is working in all these things, in what sometimes seems tedious and what sometimes seems like “fishing all night and catching nothing,” to see with our inner eyes His complete and “eternal weight of glory.”
Things came to something of a “head” and drew us to a conclusion as for a time the last day the group was pulled into the divisive politics and issues of the world, but by the Holy Spirit we were brought back sharp and pointedly to the only solution to everything and the only security there is, which is Christ in both counts. But we reminded ourselves and others that our calling and privilege is to continue, as others before us, to be a fiddle with one string, and we can only play that one string over and over and over. One can go into any coffee shop, office, or any other gathering place of men and women and discuss the current event issues of the day, but it is as rare as saffron to hear the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The world will always go on being the world, and as long as we look at the outer world as our problem or somehow find solutions in it, we are diverted from the real problem and the real solution.
The real problem in the world is not economic policies or what political party has the reins, but as Paul said, “spiritual wickedness in high places.” He was not referring to the governments of the earth but to the “prince of the power of the air,” who has deceived the whole world that they are self-motivating, self-responsible, self-acting, and self-relying independent selves who run their own lives. Yet the scriptures as a revelation of God say otherwise, that except we are in Christ we are run from within by a false deceiving god whose quality is self existing for its own sake, self seeking for its own good at the expense of all the other selves, and that false self of the wicked one who has deceived the whole world lives its self-lusts through and as us, until we are filled with Christ who is love outgoing, love giving, love unconcerned for itself as its own first beneficiary, but love which expends itself for the benefit and life of others, which only the life of Christ in us can do.
Every other issue is diversion until we get this basic issue straight. We must know how the Cross has delivered us from the evil one, and how the resurrection of Jesus was not just about Jesus resurrecting, but also about us resurrecting to newness of life as well. We must know that the old died and has been cast out forever, and that the new has risen and that now this new self, which is Christ in us as us, now lives through faith and manifests itself in righteousness in the world. We cannot be pulled off our course as our main issue. It is absolutely vital, especially, we believe, at this very critical juncture of human history we are living in in our generation.
There is no total solution to anything in the world except this.
Many of the group that gathered yesterday saw that glory. It was evident in their faces and by their smiles. Christ only is our only and total truth, and what is so total about that, is that through that Cross He accomplished a total demolition of the kingdom of the wicked one. Christ stole us back from the devil, and now no one can take us out of His hand. And having done that, He enters us as the Perfect One of God, and by His perfection in us, He lives in us perfectly, perfectly expressing Himself by means of the humanity which we are, which HE PERFECTED FOREVER by His body and blood, so that it is a total Christ expressing Himself totally by total human beings.
3. Living Union By Faith
It is no secret that sometimes these truths we discuss meet with opposition and even scorn. We speak of an invisible God and of walking by faith and not by sight. Our brother Burt Rosenburg calls “the invisible” a hard sell, and it is. To believe in “the invisible” when the visible is so much more convincing, is not only tough as a concept to “sell,” but it is sometimes no picnic to live, either. So when we see people again and again and they are holding fast to what we have shared by the Spirit, we know they have paid a price to continue to walk in the truth of Christ who lives in us. It can only cause us to thank God and praise His Name because He is the One Who keeps us, and we see His handiwork everywhere we go, as it seems like angels prepare the way.
All of us three gave a word as we were moved by the Spirit, and at the end we encouraged anyone there who had not made “Christ in me” his “own,” to make a confession in some way, by heart and mouth, that we agree with God that it is no longer us living, but Christ Who is living in us, in this present moment. We pointed out how just as our initial entering into the kingdom was by our committed choice, or in a moment of decision and capped off by some sort of prayer or mouth confession, saying, “Christ is my Savior,” or some such as that, in that same way entering into our union reality is another and further step of faith, entered into in the same way by which we received our salvation by grace — through faith — i.e., by a committed act of receiving and agreeing with God.
As at first we said, “Christ is my Savior,” in this further act of faith, we say in some way, “Christ has been formed in me so that He is living and expressing Himself in my world as me.” It is a bold thing to say and we always say it when it looks exactly the opposite, which is the point. If we looked and acted like we think Christ would look or act, we would not be taking it by faith. But faith always starts out in the invisible, in something not seen, before faith gives us its evidence.
Faith’s evidence is the simple law that what we take, takes us. By faith we sit in a chair; then the chair holds us. We took the chair, now the chair takes us. We enter into Christ by faith, and then Christ takes us, and performs His promises in us. At first we have no evidence and our faith is really a stab in the dark. But the witness comes back to us in our spirits, and we KNOW that what we have believed and committedly received, He has done it!
This is the beginning of “possessing our possessions,” i.e., entering into God’s “rest” in the Promised Land. It is a crossing of sorts, out of the wilderness of self-effort and self-responsibility, over the Jordan, finally and completely leaving the former “old self” in its death in the wilderness, and entering in by faith as a totally and only a “new self” in Christ, Christ in us as one person with us. It is this one unified person, Christ plus me which equals this new “me,” who from now on lives out of the rest of God (Heb 4: 9,10), rather than by our own efforts and labors. This is finding the “easy yoke” and “light burden” Jesus offered us all in Matthew 11:30.
4. The Sin Issue
At the first night’s meeting Boyd spoke first; I followed and then John finished up. When we turned over the meeting for discussion one of the first subjects that came up was about sin. This is probably our most common question, since it seems almost as if “sin” is more on the minds of believers than righteousness, since the fear of sin and what to do about sin is most often on the top of believers’ minds. I don’t mean this as a criticism but rather an observation that has remained consistent through all the years I have been sharing Christ in us.
It is only right that people ask these questions of course, because as long as it is an issue to someone, it is an issue to them. It cannot be put to bed until the Spirit puts it to bed in us. But there is good news: the sin issue CAN BE PUT TO BED!
When we finally come to the place by the Spirit where we see we are kept by the power of God, (something we cannot learn in a book or a class but by the actual experience of BEING KEPT), the issue of sin is put to bed as far as we are concerned, because it is no longer our issue. It is done away in the Cross and the new life of the resurrection, and as Paul said, “How can we, who are dead to sin, live any longer in it?” (Rom 6:2) It is very simple.
People will be quick of course to point out that the possibility of sin still exists, and we do not disagree. Of course it is still there, since we are still in the camp of the wicked one he can still throw his darts at us and it is possible to get a sting now and then. But we pointed out that when we take a journey and we go by car, we drive in the general assumption that we will make it to our destination, rather than by a journey-stopping fear keeping us from ever starting the car, that if we do we’ll have an accident. Of course the possibility exists for an accident everytime we drive, but we would go crazy if we allowed that thought to become the predominant thought. We would never get in our cars and go anywhere.
And yet Christians are often the same way regarding living in freedom and the fullness of our humanity. They are frozen in fear of going the wrong way, listening to the wrong voice, that our emotions are amok and all wrong, and in that fear allow themselves to be held almost as the servant who hid his talent in a napkin and buried it. We become afraid most of all of ourselves, afraid we’ll do wrong, say wrong, think wrong, emote wrong, and thus become inactive and unfruitful in Christ because of this unnecessary fear that keeps us more mindful of the possibility of sinning (to which we are already dead if we would just acknowledge it), rather than the unction that is in everyone of us in Christ to righteousness and to bear the fruit of God.
We encouraged everyone that in Him we ARE righteousness, and for us to live in the green light and full assumption of the righteousness of God as our own through Jesus Christ and the completed work of the Cross (2 Cor 5:21).
5. The “God’s Presence” Issue
Another issue that came up was the issue of “feeling God’s presence.” Again, we stressed faith, simply remaining in our confession and not going back on it, that we who are joined to the Lord are “one spirit,” (1 Cor 6:17), and as such we walk around being ourselves with maybe no special feelings or “sense” of God, because as we mature in Christ everything settles into an inner “knowing” that is ever present, whether we have warm or intimate “feelings” of God or not. In our early days the Spirit did make Himself known often by that way to us, meeting us on the level of our needs. But as we have grown up in Him, we live in something much deeper than transient feelings or a sense of God’s presence, which is there sometimes and sometimes not. We need to know God is ALWAYS present, not just when we “feel Him.”
Too often believers think they must do something special to “get God to come down” and be with them, when exactly the opposite is true. To be blunt, that idea that we must “do something” to make God act, is really Christianized heathenism. God is ever present in our innermost selves, and as we come into this inner awareness of oneness with Him (see John 17:11; 21-23), we realize to the uttermost that we living is He living. We are one. It is a continuous reality and therefore we do not have to “do” anything to be ourselves. We simply are. And through the Cross and Resurrection and our subsequent receiving Him, He has joined Himself as One Person with us so that we simply “are” ourselves (how could we be anything other than ourselves?) and this “ourselves” that we are is also He. We don’t need to “feel” our own presence. He is embedded so deep within us that He is beyond feelings or senses. God is Spirit, and those “feeling” things are really flesh things, flesh feelings, flesh sensations, which God often uses in our beginning days. But we grow into a more mature love that does not need those kind of assurances any longer.