Excerpt from Beyond Categories
By Art Katz
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:4 KJV) .
The Lord is looking for a virginal first-fruits company that will follow the Lamb withersoever He goes, and in these last days, this withersoever is going to bring us to places we never could have imagined and where we ourselves would balk, like Peter when he said, Let this be far from You, Lord. This is a statement of such remarkable generosity and breadth of the spirit of compassion for his Master that it would have obtained for Peter the Man of the Year award; yet, it would have impeded the Cross. John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said, There is no greater, and, I have need to be baptized of You, had to be persuaded to demonstrate the withersoever of Jesus, by baptizing the One who patently had no need of repentance, that they might fulfill all righteousness.
This withersoever is so remarkable that it requires of that virginal company an abandoning to the uttermost in order to follow Him. Todays selection in Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest considers that very question, Have I ever yielded in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? We would instantly answer Of course. We have always been yielded. However, there is an absolute and an ultimate abandonment that is total, which few of us know, but to which the Lord is calling all of us in such an hour as this.
When you look up the word abandon in a dictionary, you find surprising dimensions of meaning such as, to give up the objective of ever again claiming ones right or interest, or to give over and surrender completely to any attempt at self-control, to quit, relinquish, renounce, vacate, resign, discard, forswear, forsake; to abandon denotes the absolute giving up of an object, surrendering it to the mercy of something or someone else greater.
Would it not be remarkable if the object that we need to give up were not some carnal thing but a spiritual thing, even a correct thing, and a thing pertaining to the Lord Himself, something so spiritual and cherished that we would not relinquish it even for the Lord Himself? That is the ultimate irony of the last impediment that stands between ourselves and Him, the last thing that keeps us from being that bridal company that follows Him withersoever He goeth. It is not the carnal, the wrong thing; it is the correct thing, and a cherished thing, and because it is correct and spiritual, it is the most difficult thing to forsake or to abandon. To give up or to abandon carnal or material things is no sacrifice at all, but the abandonment for which the Lord waits is clearly a sacrifice.
Strangely and ironically, the desire for, the interest in, or the protection of that which is correct - even the desire to be right, the enjoyment of rectitude, the wonderful feeling of being really lined up with God - any or all of these could be the impediment that itself needs to be forsaken. It is remarkable how few will do it. Maybe it is for that reason Jesus murder was inevitable, and carried out not by those who were apparently wicked or evil, but by the best of Israeli society and religious life, because He seemed to constitute a threat to what they held to be as correct. They must defend their correctness in such a way as to crucify the Lord who Himself gave the truths which they cherish and defend!
Saul is the perfect example of that. In his zeal to protect the faith of inviolate Israel from what appeared to be a dangerous heretical sect, he found himself persecuting the Lord Himself in the name of his own zeal. Maybe the candidate for apostolicity must come to recognize that in the last analysis, the very zeal to protect and to defend truth as one sees it is the very thing that will ultimately persecute and crucify the Lord afresh.
We must have no vested interest even in our correctness because the Lord must always be allowed the privilege of leading us where He will and contradicting our categories - He will test us in precisely those areas. Is the Lord really our Lord, unless we allow Him the right to set aside his own categories, to alter his own truths as we understand them, so that He can bring to us a new dimension which seems to threaten those things which were previously established and given by Him? Is He really the Lord unless He has that prerogative, and that right to establish anything of his own choosing that seems to us a contradiction of even Himself? We are not fully abandoned to Him until we have abandoned ourselves to that. There is no category so sacrosanct that the Lord cannot alter it if He is to be Lord, and the Lamb whom we follow, withersoever He goeth.
The last and most deadly hiding place of self is not in our carnality but, as I so often say, in our spirituality. Until we recognize that, and are open to Gods dealings with us in that place, we will oppose God even in defending Him. What killed Him at the first, the zealous intent of defenders of the faith, purporting to protect the faith from seeming danger or the prospect of heresy, will kill Him again.