Feb 14, 2020
I hope you enjoyed Chris Jackson’s blog last week. Chris (AL), along with Ray De La Nuez (FL), Ken Watson (OR), Kai Munshi (GA) And Gary McCusker (CO), are on our new volunteer Writing Team. You’ll be hearing from one of them at least once a month. If you are interested and have writing experience, reach out, and we’ll send you an application.
Free not Fixed
After 30 years of full-time ministry I’ve recently become skeptical of “perfect” men. Cynical might be a better word. I’m not proud of this. In fact, I’ve recognized my cynicism as a heart issue that needs to be changed and am working intently to rectify it. Nonetheless, I’ve been pondering a phrase that keeps running through my mind—Free not Fixed.
During my tenure in ministry I’ve encountered a myriad of men who, on the outside look free in Christ, but inside are held in bondage by secret sin. Experience has taught that the free in Christ aren’t fixed at all, but the admission of brokenness, and subsequent repentance puts the soul on the road to freedom.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” I would add that being free (in Christ) does not mean fixed by Christ.
I can already hear theologians typing their rebuttal!
Every day I send at least one email with a typo. I’ve sent some epic errors that I’d rather not repeat here! I don’t proofread as often as I should and am regularly teased for it. Whether I accidentally type “form” instead of “from” really doesn’t matter in the context of a missive. People get the point and the email does exactly what it’s meant to do—communicate my thoughts. Imperfect as the email may be, it’s still able to fulfill its exact purpose.
According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible the Greek word teleios means, “Complete in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, of full age, or perfect.” The word can describe anything from a full-grown man to a daily task that has been completed.
The mistake we often make is believing that teleios IS perfection of form— flawlessness. Anyone who has lived beyond their diapers would agree that no one is flawless, perfect in form. However, teleios IS functional perfection—flawed men (sinners actually) fulfilling God’s purposes in their lives. In the midst of our flawed and broken ways, believers can be free to follow Jesus’ command to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-38).
Did I hear fingers stop pounding the keyboard?
Teleios represented best in James 1:4b, “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
My “Teleios” Bible
I purchased my UltraThin Holman New American Standard Version (NASB) in late 1989. Since then, it has traveled the long and winding road of ministry on every mission trip, youth camp, vacation, and speaking engagement. Its dog-eared, marked up, stained, and ripped pages make navigating tenuous since the weathered pages easily tear. Its cover is shredded on the spine and the binding is separating. My youngest, Colton, wrote his name in it in 2002 when he was four—it’s illegible. There’s a blood stain in James where I crushed a fly during 1999 church service.
Its form is worn out, damaged, and extremely fragile. It’s in great need of repair. But it’s teleios. It’s functionally perfect because it does exactly what’s it’s supposed to do, reveal God’s perfect Word.
Not a theology lesson but Practical Application
Last weekend I preached on Hebrews 12:2: “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Debriefing my message at the end of the service, the lead pastor and good friend, Dean Yoder (a fire fighter by trade but volunteer pastor) made a profound statement, “When you’re fixed on Jesus, you’re fixed enough!”
I couldn’t agree more.