Making it clear to His followers not to hide their Light under a bushel or to cloister themselves, Jesus gave the instruction to go into the midst of the world. It was an assignment requiring a very different identity; an identity with a purpose to disciple those drawn to the Light. In doing so, He gave them the admonishment to be wise as serpents, yet as harmless as doves.
Within that context were some key warnings, areas to be alert to, to be on one’s guard so as not to cross the subtleties of the line into entrapments operating in the volatile realm believers have since been sent to operate … the realm of a world bridging death with Life. These highlighted areas were foundational to maintaining God’s protection and the balance needed for these assignments. They were warnings which were entwined with and raised the bar of the foundations Moses pointed to in order to thrive as a society of leaders, as cultural change-artists with the expectation and consistency of God’s blessings and covering.
These foundations are driven by the premise that we are not to be assimilated, but rather to function together as a Light on a hill. In other words, when Jesus said that we would be in the world but not of the world, He was pointing to our assignment as believers to be a culture within a culture. For the persecuted I have worked with overseas, this identity and purpose is uniquely understood. Now, with the spiritual masks and gloves being removed globally, believers across the West are beginning to realize and face these realities.
Bedrock to the result of this assignment of bridging death with Life is the mix between the God-response, the (believing) community-response and the response to the world around us. The thread tied to a true grasp of the warnings given is the factor of trust and with it, the perception and response to the realities within this deadly worldly operating environment.
A top-line grasp of Jesus’ repeated warnings included being wary of the leaven of the Pharisees, to beware of the leaven of Herod, to beware of false prophets and to beware of those closest to you, whose hidden agendas may morph into betrayal. Then in Luke, there was added a warning to take heed and be wary of covetousness, as one’s life is not shaped by the possessions they have.
From these warnings, we are to scrutinize and discern what trickles down from the religious system, the political system, to be alert to subtle deceptions and betrayals from those we most identity with … and then the requirement for the standard and function of believers to be other-directed. In short, we need to be alert to our grasp of the spiritual and the political systems, to the community around us … and with all that, to what shapes our thinking and the priorities of our actions toward others.
Essential Foundations for Raising the Bar
Before we take a closer look at a wholesome spiritual response to this mix of responding to God, the community and the world, it will be prudent to understand the foundations Jesus was operating from. As a Jew, Jesus drew strongly from the instructions outlined by Moses. Again, these were principles God had given as the basis for His people to operate successfully as a society of leaders, and in doing so to maximize His protection and blessings.
Jesus never came to downgrade these very pertinent admonitions, but rather to raise the bar. Having admonished His followers with the expectation of the operation of the Holy Spirit following His resurrection, what Moses pointed to beware of fits uniquely with this higher standard outlined by Jesus: to give heed to hearing God’s voice; to give focus to remembering God’s acts of intervention in our lives; to immerse ourselves and obey His written word and to give focus to giving a helping hand to establishing opportunity for the disadvantaged within the community.
I am sending an angel before you, to keep and guard you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. Ex 23:20-21
Beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Deut 6:12
Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today. Deut 8:11
Beware, lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. Deut 15:9
The Challenges Tied to Higher Dimensions
Historically, in terms of grasping what God has been doing, not to speak of getting the direction needed for the challenges being faced, God’s people have been myopic. That is until they have heard from God.
Maintaining these standards is the framework from which Jesus raised the bar with His unique warnings of what to be wary of. What Jesus was pointing to is the persecution actuated due to those who would embrace an undefiled identity and purpose in Him.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matt 7:15
Beware of men who will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. Matt 10:17
Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matt 16:6
Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. Mark 8:15
Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Luke 12:15
Warnings for the Mature
Central to what Jesus imparted to His closest followers was in knowing God and His ways. His purpose served in grooming them for greater works, to do what He did and more by means of employing righteous power in a corrupt world.
In doing so, He stressed the “beware” admonitions of Moses to give heed to hearing God’s voice; to remember God’s acts of intervening; to obey His written word; and to establish opportunity for the disadvantaged within the community. Then in raising the bar Jesus gave additional warnings for the remnant of the most trusted of His inner circle: those with the mantles of leaders.
These warnings included insight into the subtle and hidden backlash from within the religious systems, the political systems, those misguided in their prophetic discernment, those among the brethren whose spiritual maturity and/or self-absorbed ambitions would result in them masquerading as kindred spirits …. and the deceitful influence that the entitlement of materialism can have.
In short, Jesus was grooming a select, chosen group for greater works … for the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit when their response to hearing and obeying God, building their community and influencing the world within their sphere would be accompanied by a mix of risks, challenges and persecution, yet a power that would redefine their destiny.
Bridging Two Worlds
Navigating this mix is where we need to have this deeper grasp of the parameters of this hidden realm, this domain of God that Jesus referred to as the Kingdom of God. This is the domain in which faith is required to be ministers of Life and a bridge from the seen world into the unseen.
However, maintaining the momentum, not to speak of jointly and consistently operating as the Light on a hill involves a relational dimension … in response to the person of the Holy Spirit and with other believers …. a dimension that transcends faith and becomes the glue for the love needed to operate in this realm.
That relational dimension is trust which operates together with a keen discernment and in understanding the times from the perspective of what the Lord is doing. With those thoughts in mind, the foundation for bridging the seen world with the unseen is captured by the wisdom outlined by Solomon in his sequence in Proverbs 3 about trusting in the Lord with all your heart and leaning not unto your own understanding.
This most essential God-response is also what is required to wisely navigate the areas to beware of. So, with the core being the God-response will be the response to the spiritually immature from the household of faith, in order to maintain the God-focus with unbelieving power brokers.
Such was in strong evidence in the authority and mantle of the dramatic culture-changing roles of Joseph and Daniel. In both cases, their assignment dovetailed with a pause which involved the majority of God’s people being sidelined, as Joseph and Daniel served as a spiritually-prepared remnant in facing the challenges in an undefiled bridging of the two worlds in their interactions and exchange of authority with the kings and rulers of the worldly realm.
With the bar being raised by Jesus and the opportunity being given to be spiritually prepared for a face-off with the strongholds of the world following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the admonitions Jesus outlined to be wary of take on a more profound purpose.
Not only do they ensure an uncluttered direction from on High, but they maximize the much-needed protection from God while traversing what can be subtle but perilous pathways.
Spiritual Maturity, Relationships and the Balance of Trust
Indeed, Jesus raised the bar into a higher calling subject to a higher cost and a pathway of greater challenges. In embracing this assignment, Jesus was reminding those willing to stay the course that He had given them the keys to operating in this higher dimension of reality. The warnings tapped the subtle traps designed to undermine, distract and distort as those prepared navigated their assignment of greater spiritual intensity and risk within this more perilous operating environment.
So it was that there was a time in this grooming that Jesus told His inner-circle that He no longer called them servants, but friends. He explained that servants don’t understand what their master is doing, but friends are those who are sufficiently mature to be trusted with the big picture, in terms of the purposes and strategies being employed.
Trust is pivotal to any enduring relationship. Spiritually, even more so, as it represents that dividing asunder between soul and spirit along with the needed balance for those sent into risky spiritual environments with impossible Kingdom assignments. For those emerging as a remnant of game-changing leaders, maintaining the focus and balance of trust, together with wisdom between the community of faith, the world we are sent to operate in and the Lord Himself is vital …. and is the lynchpin to maintaining the authority needed for these assignments.
Trust is core to our relationship with the community of faith. It likewise is an absolute requisite for credibility with the leaders of the world we engage with, as Joseph was trusted by Pharaoh and Daniel by Nebuchadnezzar. Within those settings, both Joseph and Daniel’s identities and mantles were entwined with God’s favor.
Indeed, trust is central to navigating these more difficult pathways together with God.
Jesus tapped this higher standard of trust for leaders, with His response to the very capable and righteous rich young ruler. There was a simple standard to meet in joining this band of Jesus’ followers. Sadly, the young leader turned away. Jesus initially explained to His followers what had happened by illustrating it being harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
This analogy referenced a secondary, smaller door (known as the eye of the needle) used after dark to avoid the perils by entering a city’s larger gates without opening them …. with the need to unburden the camel’s load for it to get through. He further explained it to be the attachment too many have in putting their trust in their riches. THIS had been the key trust issue that each of His inner circle had heeded, in leaving what they had trusted in, to follow Jesus.
It represented a central heart issue needed for facing the realities of the journey. It begins with the trust issue explained by the prophet Nahum: “The Lord is good, a stronghold [of protection] in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”
Peter being amazed and trying to grasp Jesus’ response to the rich, young ruler … no doubt seeking a bit of affirmation … noted that “We have left all to follow You. What then shall we have?” Jesus replied that there would be a hundred-fold provision to accomplish their assignments, along with persecutions … ala, the persecutions pointing to the need for the unique warnings.
The higher standard for the remnant of the community of faith is what Jesus called servant leadership. It requires trusting in the Lord with all your heart. Paul explained this dynamic to the Corinthians: “As your faith grows, so we will be within our sphere, enlarged even more.” This enlargement trumps the leaven Jesus warned his followers to avoid and is one of those Kingdom paradoxes illustrating the potent dynamic operating so far beyond human capacities in the secrets defining the realm of the Kingdom.
Historic Responses of Worldly Leaders to the Prophetic
Even within the worldly realm at high leadership levels, again and again we have numerous Biblical examples of the insight from what to them was military intelligence regarding the prophetic revelations coming from God’s truly anointed.
The king of Syria’s advisors explained to him that Elisha shared his most carefully guarded secrets with Israel’s king. Nebuchadnezzar, in the takeover of Jerusalem was well acquainted with the prophecies of Jeremiah. Subsequently, Nebuchadnezzar gave honor to the description and interpretation of his strange dream, noting that only the God of gods could have revealed it to Daniel. Generations before that, Pharaoh promoted Joseph because of his prophetic gift in interpretating his dreams and the strategy he outlined, noting: “Can we find such a one as this? A man in whom is the Spirit of God. Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as wise and discerning as you are.”
Spiritual Maturity and the Entitlement Trap
Spiritual maturity relates to the truth of: “To whom much is given, much is required” and back to the need of: “Being as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” The mantle for leaders in this emerging season includes: Game-changing power; the favor from on high to influence kings and leaders; along with a scope and authority to disciple nations. It is a far higher standard. So are the entrapment subtleties … and so we have the key areas we are to be wary of.
It was a standard illustrated by the rich young ruler [who Scripture says Jesus loved and some consider was John Mark] whose misplaced trust caused him to stumble. Likewise Peter, who long grappled with getting past head issues to embrace what he actually needed to wrap his heart around, was seeking to grasp the significance of the cost of his mantle.
Jesus explained that the higher dimensions of leadership require a higher dimension of trust in the Lord … to guard against the entitlement traps that accompany growth and advancement in spiritual maturity … and the persecutions that being ministers of Light attract.
In a season requiring higher levels of trust, Jesus simultaneously admonished those paying the cost in leaving whatever he required to follow Him … to beware of those within the ranks of the household of faith whose actions serve as the enemy’s plants, masquerading in their assignments; to beware of those spiritually immature closest to us whose deceived and misguided intentions will result in betrayal; to be wary of the passions that attract the leaven of religiosity; along with the similar seductive passions that become entrapped in the swirls of putting their trust in the political system; and then finally to be especially sensitive to responding to the plight of the genuinely oppressed, being wary of giving focus to the lure of materialism. AND with all that: a continual foundation to trust in the Lord with all your heart.
“Blessed be the name of the Lord God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” Daniel 2:20-22
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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