However, not all the signs of the Kingdom are equal. Remember, like the Corinthians, we may experience the supernatural, but still be called upwards to the more ‘excellent way' (1Cor 12:31). As necessary as they are, even some of the supernatural signs of the Kingdom (the gifts and operations of the Spirit) can sometimes distract from the main play-from the Giver himself. As the descendants of Greek culture, the West is prone to the Corinthian distraction with gifts and super-apostles, with charisma and personality, looking only on the surface of things and taking pride in what is seen, rather than what is in the heart (2 Cor 10:7; 5:12). Nevertheless, through the sound of competing voices, through the crazed crowd of celebrity Christians, there is another sound being heard. And it is the sound of heaven; of deep calling to deep; of the heart of God calling to the hearts of men and of our hearts burning within us: When You said, Seek My face, my heart said to You, Your face, O LORD, I shall seek." (Ps 27:8).
This is a call upward to the more excellent way it is the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14). Others may seek the "Broad-Way" of Christendom and Charismata, but you may not. Paul said, everything is allowable, but not everything is profitable. Everything is allowable, but everything does not build others up (1 Cor 10:23). It is not the way of reputation and success in the systems of men, but the high road of agape- of love without hooks, of self-giving and perfect obedience to the Father.
It is the love-servant who when given his freedom returns abandoning all for love of the master, having his ear pierced against the doorpost (see Ex 21:16). This is the question: has my ear been pierced by the high calling of God? Am I truly ready to be pierced at the threshold of God's infinite possibilities? Can my entrance as well as my exit have a marker at an unforgettable threshold? Have I truly heard what the Spirit is saying to the church in this hour? Moreover, am I willing to abandon my way, my ministry and my gifts for the more excellent way?
The more excellent way is the way of selfless love. This is what Paul is referring to when he says, three things remain: faith, hope and love. Obviously the greatest of these is love because it is in third place (1 Cor 13:13 ). The last is always first and then last again. There are three realms in God faith and hope are the first two, but our goal is the third, love. Faith and hope relate to the gifts and callings of God, but love to who he is. This place far exceeds the possession of gifts. It is in this place we are possessed by The Gift in order to be in our entirety-a gift to humanity.
It is the holiest place. This is a realm of complete abandonment, of being filled with the God who is agape and who fills all in all (1 Jn 4:8; Eph 1:23). When we attain this realm, the perfect (mature) will have come. All else will lose its value (1 Cor 13:10). When we discover and walk in this new way... our ministry, our impact in the community, our churches, endeavors and successes will seem insignificant. We will count all things as loss by comparison. This is a call to maturity (1 Cor 13:11). It is the way of Mary who chose the better part, sitting at Jesus feet. It is the way of the Great Commandment; of devotion over production and of intimacy over activity. It is the Shulamite being lost in her beloved in the realization that, "I am my beloved's, and that his desire is for me(S of S 7:10). It is all about him. In its absence, we cannot employ the Great Commission. We must become, the great commandment, so that the world may believe that he sent us.
The Source of Our Hidden Identity
Our identity is no longer tied to task, title or temple things. It is in our union with God. We are no longer authenticated by the work of our hands, by our ministry or success, but only by the Father. This more excellent way is foolishness to men, but the wisdom of God is for the mature. It is concealed from the intellectual and spiritually prideful: Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that god has prepared for those who love him. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 1 Cor 2:6-10
There is another way an alternative to the ways of men in the "church". However, it is not accessible to all. The secrets of the Kingdom are revealed to some but hidden from others: "You have been given knowledge about the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but it hasn't been given to them. (Mt 13:11). It is revealed by the Spirit only to the humble of heart, at that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. Luke 10:21
If we are to see the fullness of the Kingdom, there is no alternative. We must humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, yielding those things we hold dearest: our reputations and ministries, our abilities and successes in fact, our very motivation for living. It is time to align ourselves exclusively with the one who made himself of no reputation and embrace the more excellent way.