Volume 22 Issue 7
The book Tubes, by Andrew Blum, is an interesting read.
In the book, Blum makes a reference to a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald entitled “My Lost City.” I remembered having read the piece, but had no recall of the actual story line. I rushed to reread it. The story centers around a central character that fashioned his whole spiritual and intellectual life on the idea that New York City was the true center of the universe. But he loses that perception during a shattering epiphany.
He loved New York’s cosmopolitan life, politics, energy and the glamour of “his” city. He loved the roaring ’20s and the fact that the world was madly embracing the vibrant postmodernism reverberating out of NYC. He believed that the universities and the theaters set the pace for all of humanity. All was wonderful. New York City was like a beautiful dream.
One day, things changed. New experiences and changing times began to emotionally and spiritually alter his thinking. In a dramatic climb to the top of the Empire State Building his view of the iconic city is shattered. He looks as far as he can and for the first time he sees what he had missed for so long — his city has limits. In an instant, his sense of pride is lost and he is forced to face the truth. “And with the awful realization that New York was a city after all and not a universe, the whole shining edifice that he had reared in his imagination came crashing to the ground.”
There is a great lesson in Fitzgerald’s story. The protagonist had to give up, crucify, lose his self-embellished sense of “his city” before he could see the rest of the world. His revelation? New York had limits.
Our life has limits. Our talents, our minds, our institutions, our powers all have limits. Our flesh is weak. It profiteth nothing – not a little, not something, but nothing. In terms of providing salvation for mankind, our flesh is worthless. Our life is a vapor. As scripture instructs, it is only by losing our life that we find life, new life, eternal life. When we surrender to him our mind is then free to accept God’s unlimitedness.
Climb high, look far and think hard. What do we have to give this world through or by our flesh? Nothing. Shall we foolishly imagine that we can by reason, logic, human power or effort reprove the world of sin? Rather, we should say, “when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). What comes with this realization is the acknowledgement that our life is not lost, but that our horizons are expanded. Our imagined worlds are exchanged for true life in Christ. The old man, the man we were before we touched and handled Christ the redeemer, is lost (1 John 1:1).
Once we concede that our flesh is nothing and that our reasoning is limited, everything changes. St. John chapter six is complex, but powerful. It should be reread often. It is about the flesh, the limits of the flesh and the failure of the flesh. This concept caused many to leave Jesus to follow their own ways. “Many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). What caused this shocking reaction to the teaching of Christ? It was this: when even these very close followers of Jesus saw that no profit, glory, or power would ever be lauded upon or transferred to the flesh they walked away. When pressed to relinquish their hope for personal aggrandizement, they saw their limit. They were asked to give up their imaginations of an earthly kingdom in which they could acquire position and power, and so they turned back, thus missing “heavenly vision” (Acts 26: 19).
Apostolics stand atop their Empire State Building viewing their limitations and powerlessness. For some, this moment of frailty draws them closer to Him, but for others this is not so, and they choose instead to forsake holiness and minimize the importance of the Apostles’ doctrine — they walk no more with Him. Why? It is because they cannot submit to the revelation that, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
When the Holy Ghost is poured into our heart the Spirit reveals to us that our flesh has limits. Our ideas, education, programs and money all have limits. Our churches, our institutions and our organizations have limits. My life has limits. Without Him I can do nothing. Let us acknowledge that our hearts have been pricked (Acts 2:37). We must abandon any thoughts that we might succeed by human effort or wisdom, for such thoughts cause division and, are nothing more than a “shining edifice” of our imagination.
But, when will we tire of the flesh? When will we tire of operating on our own abilities? When will we stop searching for new ideas and new trends which lead us down old paths of unrighteousness? When will we end the pursuit of intellectualism that merely reinvents man-made doctrines and philosophies – doctrines that have crushed revival on every continent and failed generations of believers as they foolishly reduce the Oneness of Christ, the Godhead and Holy Ghost baptism to mere side issues. Have we grown too tired of waiting on God, grown tired of the Spirit’s demand to forsake the world? Is our imagined city so great? Limitless power, anointing and revival will not come until we are truly willing to lay down our life. It will come when we stop trying to relate to the carnal and end our infatuation with the world (John 15:9, 1 John 2:15).
We must unapologetically ask the youth of this generation to lose their lives for His sake (Luke 9:24) that they may declare, “I have no life. I lost my life in Christ. I have no worldly ambition. I die daily. I crucify the flesh. I have seen a great light. The world has limits, and the flesh is weak.” Doing so will revolutionize their ability, for no longer are they leaning to their own understanding; but their eyes will be opened to the fact that in Christ all things are possible, world without end, no limits.