by T. Austin-Sparks
The cry of all godly hearts is that of the Psalmist: "Teach me thy way, O Lord" (Psalm 86:11) ... "Shew me thy ways, O Lord" (Psalm 25:4).
We who know the Lord know that He has answered that cry in fulness in His Son. Christ is the answer to that cry. He Himself said: "I am the way" (John 14:6). Christianity very early became known by the name of 'The Way', and, as we know, it was because the substance of all the preaching was Christ.
Now here is this comprehensive fact that right from the beginning God has marked out a way, a particular way, a specific way. If we could draw a map of all the ways of men, of nations, of things, through history, how many lines there would be on it indicating the various and numerous ways which make up this world's history! But if we looked on that map with God's eyes we should see a straight red line, undeviating, running right from the creation to the consummation of this world's history, and, following that line to its end, we should find that it is Christ, it ends in Christ. God has drawn that line, that red line, straight, direct, through all the deviations of this world's life, experience and happenings - the line of Christ.
If we want to find God we have to get on to that line. It is the touchstone of human blessing, the life-line of men.
That is a key both to the Bible and to our experience in our relationship with God. God put Adam on that line when He created him. He put his feet, so to speak, immediately on the line of Christ, in order to take a course which would bring him eventually to all the meaning of God's Son, conformity to His Son: conformity to His image. Adam went off the line of Christ, with all the disastrous consequences which we know.
The next move was to bring man, who in Adam had deviated from that line, back on to the line of Christ. God laid hold of Abraham and brought him right on to the line. Watch carefully all his movements under the hand of God, and you will see that every divine step in that life related in some way to Christ. The great culminating point of these activities, the offering of Isaac and receiving him again as from the dead, as you know, speaks as loudly as anything in all the Bible of the Lord Jesus. God put Abraham on the line of Christ. Abraham deviated from that line once or twice, and immediately he lost the Lord, and the Lord was not with him until he got back to the point from which he had departed, the line of Christ.
God put Israel on to that line. When He brought them out of Egypt by the Passover, the sprinkled blood, the shared lamb, He put them as a people on to the line of Christ, initially. They got off that line and trouble followed. They lost the Lord. Later, as you know, when they went out of the land into exile and captivity, they were off the line of Christ. There was no blessing, no Lord. The glory had departed, and not until they came back on to that line did they find the Lord and come back into blessing.
Ultimately, the tragedy of Israel is that of the Cross; nay, today we have to speak, as far as they are concerned, of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. It was their most disastrous departure from God's line, Jesus Christ. They went off that line with the result that there have been two thousand years of the most awful consequences that people have known. They will not find God until they get back on to the line of Christ.
God has put the Church on that line. He put the feet of the Church on to the line of Christ right from its birth on the Day of Pentecost, and while it has remained on that line He has been with it. Every deviation from Christ to something other has resulted in tragedy.
It is instructive and impressive to note how selective God has been in His activities. He has been undeviating in the matter of His selectiveness. He selected a land, a little land, the size of the Principality of Wales or the County of York, and no bigger. He selected that land, out of all the countries of the world, in relation to His Son. His Son was to come from heaven into this world through that land. He brought His people into that land.
Now note the battle! It is the story of Ruth over again - the battle to force out, to draw away, to rob of, and in some way to get them off, that ground, that they should lose that ground. Oh, the history of that circles round that little country! God selected that land, and when His people went out of it they lost the Lord. They lost the purpose of their being chosen of God. It is impressive! Abraham had to fight that battle, and he went down to Egypt under pressure.
So we could put our finger upon this selective activity of God. As He said: "In every place where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee" (Exodus 20:24). There, just there, and only there!
Now that, of course, is Old Testament. What has it to say to us?
Well, this is a governing matter in the Christian life. It is the thing which governs the very purpose and meaning of our being the Lord's people. He has chosen us from the foundation of the world in Christ. He has selected One in whom we shall find Him, and in whom alone we shall find Him. All the forces of hell will be at work, in the first place, to keep us out of Christ. They rage to prevent people coming into Christ, and when once they have come in, these forces are unceasing and relentless in their efforts to get them off the ground of Christ, on to things, possibly, or on to any other ground. There is an immense meaning in Christ's word: "Abide in me... except ye abide in me..." (John 15:4). It is a warning, governing word. Where and how shall we find the Lord? Only on the line of Christ, where Christ's interests are the object of our being here, where it is true "For me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). You find the Lord there. Get off that ground, be driven off, be allured off, and you lose the Lord. It is there, on that ground, that the explanation of the Christian life is found. It is on that line that the very purpose for which we are created will have its out-working. It is on that line that we shall find divine guidance.
This Divine law of God's way has many practical applications in the life of the Christian. How many spiritual tragedies we have known brought about by human selectiveness apart from the first and supreme interest of Christ. It might be the choice of residence, location, for instance, for reasons of convenience, pleasure, escape, or seeming necessity, as in the case of Abraham to which we have referred. No less a question than having the Lord with us is bound up with such choices and decisions. We cannot move off the Lord's ground without the consequence of spiritual disaster. How costly it was in the case of Elimelech!
If Christ is the Way, the Directive; then He is the Example. How meticulously careful He was not to move, or be moved, by any consideration but the directive of the Father!
Many motives were put to Him for action and movement, but He abided in the Father, and, often at great cost, refused other considerations.
We must seek to know that we are where we are because God has put us there in the interests of His Son, and then it must be God who just as definitely moves us when the time to move has come.