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Keepin' it Real
By Dr. Mary Craig
Recently I was asked to speak and minister to the Harvard Law School Christian Fellowship. As I prayed about the weekend, the Holy Spirit gave me an indictment: plastic ChristianityÖand three words: radical, resurrection, relationship. Then, go deeper, to the root. The message would deal with "keepiní it real." What follows are excerpts from that message.
I found myself at a church April 1st. They were doing everything correct.Yet it was neither hot nor cold. They served communion, and I really prayed that the Holy Spirit would meet me in the communion regardless. I received: I will shake the very foundations of this house. I am the root and offspring of David. I will remain after all that can be shaken is shaken for I am the foundation of this house. When persecution comes, those that fall away do so because I am not their foundation and root. They are the "plastic" ones who live without hope in quiet desperation, seeing only the world and not the Word. For they do not know Me and are not in the Root. I am the Root.
Plastic. The word makes us think of something man-made and modern to our thinking. When plastics first came about, they carried an appearance of strength and mimicked the real. We had plastic flowers, plastic chairs, plastic tablecloths. So the word came to mean "marked by artificiality or superficiality; synthetic; as in having a plastic smile or living in a plastic world of hype and sensation. But plastic can also mean "malleable" and capable of being molded.
Keepiní It Real. The expression follows one of a few years back, Get real. It emerged as people saw the world around them for what it is and people for what they are. Christians were hypocrites, wearing a mask of holiness, living in la-la land, hiding behind rose-colored glasses.
I looked up "keepiní it real" on the web. It hooked into hip-hop culture. Lyrics used the vulgar to express the violent, of values learned from TV and cable. Keepiní it real stands for loyalty in relationships. A friend is one who lies for you. Earthy, sensual, demonic, the Bible says of this wisdom. (James 3.15) Hip-hop sees true lies, all that is ugly in human nature. One pastor expressed it well when he spoke of young Christians living in two cultures, the church so as to appease parents, and a world of drugs, sex, violence, lies, and lawlessness, so as to appease friends.
Hip-hop music purportedly promotes this brutal honesty and vulgar description of life as it is. It cries for honesty. It cries for whatís true. It says to me, you canít reach me with what you say, because of what I see. I see fakes. I see dirt. Iím keepiní it real. Iím going with what I see.
God is. He has no serious competitors for the position. In times past He spoke through His prophets. When He sent Jesus Christ into the world, that was His last and final word to humanity. Basically, Jesus said, believe in Me and love one another. (1 John 3.23) Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10.17) Believe, and you will see. Thatís how it works with God.
And I am just the messenger bringing to you a three-fold call. You can reject and refuse or you can accept and rejoice. Iím just the messenger. Like Jeremiah, God has set me over the nations and over the kingdoms to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, and to build, and to plant. (Jeremiah 1.10) After I leave, itís between you and God. I live in His Presence and I know well His power. I know the price of the anointing. I made my choice 30 years ago. I wanted more than the hype and sensation, the artificiality and superficiality of a plastic Christianity. I wanted the Lord of the Book and the Book of the Lord. I wanted to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. I wanted the Holy Spirit, and I wanted Satan under my feet. Do you have such desires as these?
I found that Jesus is the true Friend. I was an enemy of the cross, but while I was yet an enemy, Jesus died for me. (Romans 5.8) He didnít lie. He didnít break the law. He would rather die than disobey. God would have you hear. Satan seduces through what you see. God sent His Son because people didnít listen to His prophets. Jesus is the Word Incarnate, the Word fleshed out for all to see. But the Father said, This is My beloved Son, hear Him. Jesus said, the word He speaks judges in the last day (John 12.48). Loyalty to Jesus means keeping His words. (John 15.14) Love to Jesus is someone laying down his life for his friends. (John 15.13)
To the hip-hop culture, keepiní it real means buying into the culture of the world, what is seen, its wisdom and its ways. To Jesus, keepiní it real means keeping His words, buying into the culture of the Word, Godís wisdom and its ways. Some hop from one culture to the other, comfortable in both, loyal to neither. Some are artificial, superficial, and mold themselves to whatever is going on at the time. Jesus calls you to Himself. The stakes are high, for what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? (Luke 9.25)
Our first word from the Holy Spirit is "radical." God calls you to a radical Christianity, to the Root. In John 6 many people came to the picnic. They enjoyed the food and the fellowship and got awestruck by the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Then Jesus called them beyond the superficial. He said, "I am the bread of life. I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven." He spoke of Himself, of the Word. He told them that if they wanted to have any part in Him it would require eating His flesh and drinking His blood. What is that? What was He talking about? Many of the disciples said, "This is a hard saying; who can take it?" Or who can swallow it? Or who can hear it? Many turned away, offended, and Jesus asked His disciples, those closest to Him, "Will you also go away?" Peter responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6.68)
Radical. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. It requires revelation. It requires repentance. Jesus is born of the Spirit, having the Spirit without measure. His words are spirit. The Holy Spirit is their source. Thus they give life. As you feed on Christ the Word Incarnate, you take in life from the Root. He is the Man from Heaven. Hear Him. He has the words of eternal life.
Keepiní it real for Jesus means keeping His Words.
Jesus understands the plight of this generation. The devil came to tempt Him to misuse His position. Since He is the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. Would Jesus use the Holy Spirit to do magic, to feed and gratify Himself? At issue was the Source of Life. Jesus said, Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Keep Jesusí words, for He says in John 14.23, 24, "If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loves Me not keeps not My sayings: and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Fatherís which sent Me."
But the call is not only radical, going to the very root of existence, to the very source of life and blessing, to the very origin of all you believe and trust, it is also a call to resurrection.
As you embrace Jesus as the Root and Offspring of David, the ax is put to the root of all else you thought to be the source of life, the source of sustenance and satisfaction. And so to embrace Jesus is to dieÖto self, to sin, to Satan, and to the system of the world built upon lies and deception. Self-gratification, self-will, self-seekingÖthese die by the grace of God. The soul that sins will surely die. And so the sin nature died at the cross with Christ. Lay down your life for your Friend, Jesus.
Jesus said in John 11: I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and he that lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? If you believe, you will see the glory of God. Jesus brought Lazarus out from among the dead and told those around to loose him and let him go. Lazarus came out, but he had to be loosed from the bindings of death.
The call to resurrection is a call to life. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death. It is by grace you are saved through faith, not of works, so no one will boast. God grants grace for salvation, for repentance, for sanctification. God gives grace to obey through faith working by love. Itís not just what Jesus did for you, dying on the cross for your sins and taking sinís penalty. Itís what Jesus will do to you, in you, and through you.
The call to resurrection is one that would call you to the cross of Christ. Jesus bids you "Come and die." Then you know the power of His resurrection and the rule and reign of the Anointed One over devils, disease, and death. Jesus rules and would have you rule over your self, putting the sin nature to death. He would have you rule over satan, putting him under your feet. He would have you rule over the world system, living in it but not of it. How? He gives you His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Grace to comfort, to enable, to strengthen.
Jesusí whole life was predestined. He lived out the prophecies of the Word of God. He did not take His destiny into His own hands. When the devil tempted Him to cast Himself down from a pinnacle of the temple, twisting truth and riding on truth with his lies, Jesus said, "It is said, You shall not tempt the Lord your God." Jesusí destiny was to witness the truth in His Person and His work. To this, He is the Faithful and True, the Amen, the faithful witness.
You have a destiny in Christ predetermined by the Word of Truth. You are being molded, conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. If you would keep it real, keep pressing toward the mark of the high calling of Jesus Christ. Jesus is bringing many sons to glory. Paul pressed to attain to the resurrection. o do that requires living out the scriptures. We take them in and live them out.
Jesus died and rose again in the power of an endless life. We die, too, as we move beyond our understanding of imputation and impartation, to an understanding of identification with Christ. We die to the Law, to sin, to self.
The Word is reality, and Jesus is the Word made flesh. We acknowledge the Word, Jesus, and His righteousness is imputed to us even as our sin is imputed to Him. We align to the Word as His life is imparted to us and we keep it. And finally, we abide in the Word, living in identification with Christ. We keep the Word. We witness to its truth.
Thirdly, the Spirit of Christ would call you to relationship. Jesus is the true Vine and you are the branches. He is Root, stem, all. The Christian life is an eternal life. It is an exchanged life, a shared life, a sacrificial life of love. As you keep the Word, you are keepiní it real. As you receive power from on high, you are witnesses unto Christ, going everywhere speaking to the people all the words of this life. As you choose relationship with Jesus Christ, you come into Him as He comes into you. It is a relationship of covenant love.
Relationship must be cultivated. Keep the commandments of Jesus. Keep loyal to Jesus. Keep loving one another.
To Jesus, keepiní it real would involve you laying down your life for the Body of Christ as He laid down His life for you. Love seeks not its own. Love enthrones Christ. Love forgives. Love feeds. Love blesses. Love remembers Christ crucified and keeps no records of wrongs. Love has no need to protect self, provide for self, promote self, take pride in self, gratify self, to be self-serving.
You wonít be real as a Christian until you love, and you wonít love until you receive the love of God in Christ, because you canít give what you have not received. But you can refuse Him who speaks.
Relationship means abiding in Christ, the true Vine, the Root and Source of life and sustenance. You are called to believe on the name of Godís Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave you commandment. You know you have passed from death unto life when you love the brethren, the Body of Christ. You cannot be loyal to Christ and not also be loyal to the Body of Christ, for the Head and the Body are one just as you and Christ are one.
Keepiní it real requires that you keep valuing and cultivating relationship with God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit over all other relationships. As you do, you will keep bearing fruit that remains.
Jesus lays the ax to the root of all pretenders, all that is artificial, all that manifests from an evil heart of unbelief. He goes to the foundation. He is the Judge of what is living and what is dead. All that is dead, He prunes away.
You cannot have both: Christ and Belial, God and Mammon, the system of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdoms of this world. You may see only what is vulgar and violent, but I desire that the Holy Spirit give you a glimpse of His glory. You will only keep it real as God gives grace by giving you the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Grace.
The songs of hip-hop speak of a struggle between two kingdoms. They seem to say: You canít reach me with what you say b/c of what I see. But Jesus says to Satan: You canít reach Me with what I see because of what God says.
You can choose Satan and his lies or choose the Word Jesus Christ. It all depends on what you choose to worship and serve. You become what you glorify. Your walk reflects what you worship. Your song reflects your source. Your worth depends on the one who loves you and values you.
Jesus understands the struggle of today. Being full of the Holy Spirit, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted 40 days of the devil. At one point Satan showed Jesus the world and said: All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If you therefore will worship me, all shall be yours. The word "power" there means privilege, force, capacity, competency, freedom, influence, jurisdiction. He offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. Thatís what heís doing today.
Satan calls you to see and to desire what you see. He says that what you see is all there is. What you see is real, the only truth. Yes, Adam fell and plunged the world into an estate of sin and misery, but Jesus, the Second Adam came and died for the sins of the world that He might bring many sons to glory.
Itís about dominion. The temptation comes now because we are living in the third day. Whole nations are being judged. What is living, what is dead. What is true, what is error. We are to be lovers of the truth, for these are days of the lie so big, great deceptions. We are called to arise, go in and take the land, and tread down the enemies of God. True dominion does not exploit, dominate, or rule by intimidation. True dominion rules by serving others in love. Jesus answered Satan, "Get behind Me, Satan: for it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve." (Luke 4.8)
Jesus loves you. His words are spirit and they are life. The world that is temporary must give place to the Word that is eternal. The Word of God is truth, reality, whatís real. That Word declares:
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever. Those in heaven gave thanks and worshiped God. (Revelation 11)
Jesus is the Root. All other foundations will be destroyed, for Jesus came to destroy the works of darkness, but He remains, for He is God, the Christ who rules and reigns in the power of an endless life. In Revelation 22, the inspired, infallible, revealed Word of God closes. Jesusí words are sealed with His Blood and His Body offered up in sacrifice to the Father in an eternal Covenant that cannot be broken. He says, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (22.13) I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (22.16) Surely, I come quickly. (22.20) Jesus is the final word to humanity. Hear Him. Believe in Him. Believe Him. If you believe, your faith will manifest in love for the saints, the Body of Christ, the true temple, the Bride.
Keepiní it real means keeping the Word in a radical life of resurrection lived in relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Keep the Word. Be witnesses unto Jesus. Worship in spirit and truth, serving one another in love.
© 2001 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
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