If you have determined in your heart and mind to be a man of God, if you have come to the conclusion and begun the path of contemplation, of setting your face like a flint to know nothing but Christ, then you must prepare yourself for what could be considered the adverse effects of this decision.
Pride will not be your greatest enemy, frustration will, for few tread this path in this life, few have determined in this life to be crucified with Christ. Those whom you meet, saved and lost, will still be, in the largest regard, part of the world, their time, for the most part, will still be spent on self-centered enjoyment and accomplishments. They may attend church regularly, but what started out as an opportunity for corporeal worship soon became nothing more than routine, an obligation that still makes them feel emotionally uplifted, but offers them little growth, no matter the message.
Many if not most who call Christ Lord are little more than individuals of habit, nearly all of those habits revolve around self. They rise at the same time at least five days a week, perform the same functions before heading out the door to perform the same routine, evenings and weekends, save for the Sunday morning obligation, are reserved for self-interest. They may open the Word of God, but if they were honest with themselves they would see that the five or ten minutes in it is balanced against five or more hours in selfish pleasures, the television or internet, books that are not conducive to their growth in Christ, yet pass the time until the habit can again be performed tomorrow.
The man of God can find no joy in this world, no respite from the continuous call, no pleasure in the things offered to him outside of Christ. He has been blessed with a modicum of wisdom, and prays daily to be overflowing with the Spirit, yet not for his own benefit, but for the growth of those he meets. Here is where the frustration arises, here is where spiritual pride will attempt to destroy him.
Most Christians, when life begins to cast trials, tribulations, and problems upon them, and when they feel the need to address them, will seek out their pastor, or at least one of the elders of the congregation. If these are truly men of God, they will be patient, compassionate, but also will speak love with firm truth. The problems these individuals will bring to them are almost inevitably one of a personal nature, and ones that should be quite easily discernable to themselves, yet they still live in the world, even after many years of “working out your own salvation.” (Phil. 2:12) They remain in the milk of the word. They really do not want to address the issue at hand, they want someone to fix it for them, they do not want to submit to the will of God, they want God to conform to their idea of what life should be like, they will spend no more time in the Word most days than the time necessary to eat their dinner, but they want God to bless them.
These individuals, when they meet the man who has made it his life’s work to seek the face of God will spend little time in his presence, for if they are saved, he will admonish them to go a little further, when all they want is someone to recognize the deeds they have done, he will assist them in their walk with Christ through loving personal observation, but they will hear judgement from one whom they believe should not judge. Most believers have no real desire to be crucified with Christ, but they will say so, they have no real desire to not only hide His word in their heart but to apply it, but they will say so, they will say many things, they will have the best of unfulfilled intentions, they may say that they are thinking of the things of Christ, but rarely will you hear them speak aloud of Him, unless prompted, and then most generally only in short syllables. They cover themselves with lies, and they find it a comfortable blanket.
I refer here not to those who are still lost, those who are only professing His name, but their hearts are far from Him, but actual children of the Most High who will give only part of themselves to Him. They desire the crown of glory, but not the one of shame, they will not allow themselves to be crucified.
The contemplative man is the one who is torn in two, he understands Paul’s cry in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He has been shown a glimpse of eternity, and it has changed him forever, he has been blessed with one drop of wisdom from the ocean of God’s grace, and he dies of frustration every single day as he watches a sinful world rip itself apart, as he watches the born-again believers still living in the world, living for self.
To be crucified with Christ means to die to self, not just in part, but all of self, to be set apart means all, not a returning daily to the world, not a continuing need for self-gratification. Most Christians only understand the word servant in form, few devote their lives to the deeds of a servant, to a life of denying self, much less dying to self. If you are not living a crucified life, do yourself a favor, at least admit it to yourself, take a good look at who you think you are in Christ, and then see if that fits with who you really are.
It is rare to meet a man of flint, a man who has set his face to serve, but you will remember him if you do, for either you will allow yourself to feel despondent about your true place in Christ, or you will become convicted to place all of yourself on that cross with Christ. In either case you will remember him, for it may be the only time you will hear love spoken in firm truth, it may be the only time that anyone has ever given you the opportunity to face yourself, and the opportunity to do something about it.
Those who are seeking the knowledge of God (Prov. 2:5) are not seeking it for only themselves, wisdom does little good if it is held inside, love is useless if it is not acted upon for the good of others, His word does no good if it stays hidden in our hearts and is never let out to others. You will either be convicted by the words of God that he will expound unto you, or you will stand there shell-shocked, you will either begin in earnest to devote your life to Christ in all aspects after this man leaves your presence, or you will silently hate him for showing you the truth about yourself. You will secretly desire his ability, abilities that God has blessed those who die daily to self, or you will sulk back into your routine, you will continue to cover yourself with lies.
The Lord sends this man to those children of His that He desires to grow closer to Him, it is a rare opportunity, it is a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, push in the right direction. Whether you decide to take the next step is, as all things of the Lord are in this area, your decision.