Back to Table of Contents
THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
By T. Austin Sparks
THE FOUNDATION OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION
THE 'OTHER-NESS' OF CHRIST
That being true, and if it is not, perhaps you must just suspend things there until you have had dealings with the Lord, that being true, the Holy Spirit gets to work on that, as I said, to make two or three other things very real to us, the first of which is the altogether 'other-ness' of Christ. How altogether other He is from ourselves.
Taking the disciples who went into His school, it was not the School of the Holy Spirit in the same sense as ours is, but the result of their association with the Lord Jesus during those three or three and a half years was just the same, the first thing they learned was how other He was from themselves. They had to learn it. I do not think it came to them at the first moment. It was as they went on that they found themselves again and again clashing with His thoughts, His mind, His ways.
They would urge Him to take a certain course, to do certain things, to go to certain places; they would seek to bring to bear upon Him their own judgments and their own feelings and their own ideas. But He would have none of it. At the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, His own mother, with an idea, said, They have no wine. His reply was, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." What have I to do with thee? That is a weak translation.
Far better, 'Woman, you and I are thinking in different realms; we have at the moment nothing in common.' Thus throughout their lives they sought to impinge upon Him with their mentality. No, all the time He was putting them back and showing them how different were His thoughts, His ways, His ideas, His judgments; altogether different. In the end I expect they despaired. He might well have despaired of them had He not known that this was exactly what he was doing in them.
Catch that and you have got something helpful. 'Lord, why is it that I am always caught out, always making a blunder? Somehow or other, I always say and do the wrong thing, I am always on the wrong side! Somehow I never seem to come right in line with You; I despair of ever being right!' And the Lord says, 'I am teaching you, that is all; deliberately, quite deliberately.
That is exactly what I am bringing you to see. Until you learn that lesson, we shall get nowhere at all. When you have thoroughly learned that lesson, then we can begin constructive work, but at present it is necessary for you to come to the place where you recognize I am altogether other than you are. The difference is such that we move in two altogether opposite worlds.'
This ordinary mind of man, at its best, is another mind. This will of man, at its best, is another will. You never do know what lies behind your motives until the Holy Ghost cleaves right down to the depths of your being and shows you. You may put your feelings and desires into the most devout terms. You may, like Peter, react to a Divine suggestion, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me", and say, "Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head"; but it is only self coming up again, my blessing.
I want the blessing, and so miss the whole point the Master is trying to teach. 'I am trying to teach you self-emptying.' He might have said, 'and you are laying hold of every suggestion of mine for self-filling, to get; and I am trying to say, Give, let go!' This self comes up in the most spiritual way. Self comes up for spiritual blessing.
We do not know what lies behind. We have to come into a very severe school of the Spirit which eventuates in our coming to discover that our best intentions are defiled, our purest motives are unclean before those eyes; things that we intended to be for God, somewhere at their spring is self. We cannot produce from this nature anything acceptable to God.
All that can ever come to God is in Christ alone, not in us. It never will, in this life, be in us as ours. It will always be the difference between Christ and ourselves. Though He be resident within us, He and He only is the object of the Divine good pleasure and satisfaction, and the one basic lesson you and I have to learn in this life, under the Holy Spirit's tuition and revelation and discipline, is that He is other than we are: and that 'other-ness' is indeed an utter thing. That is one of the hard lessons.
It is certainly one that this world will refuse to learn. It will not have that. That runs directly counter to the whole system of the teaching of humanism, the wonderful thing that man is! Oh no, when you have come to your best, there is a gulf between you and the beginnings of Christ that cannot be bridged. If you attain your best, you have not commenced Christ. That is utter, but we perhaps hardly need that emphasis. Most of us have learned something.
But let us, while we know this in experience, take the comfort which comes perhaps from being told again exactly what is happening. What is the Lord doing, what is the Holy Spirit doing, with us? Well, as a basic thing, He is making us to know that we are one thing and Christ another. That is the most important lesson to learn, for there can be nothing constructive until we have learned it. The first thing, therefore, is the altogether 'other-ness' of Christ as over against ourselves.