There is a man, now old in years, who believes that all that is happening is God expressing His Life. Because he believes this, he is confident that what is happening in and through him is simply God living. The expression of life flowing out of his total standing in Truth (based on his knowledge of who he is in Jesus Christ) has come forth in many forms. All of these forms – books, Christian leadership, personal contacts, and speaking tours – have been for the purpose of loving people. And people have responded to the truth they have heard from his lips via the no - strings love they have experienced with him. They have felt free to use or misuse him according to their own need, free to worship him, free to parrot his words (quoting or misquoting him,) free to be impudent with him, free to use his time through letters (which he always answers) or personal visits or phone calls.
Because of what they have seen and heard, it has seemed to some, who were not being affected by this kind of self-giving love, that a cult was forming around this compelling man. For those who have feared this was happening, it has been a serious and frightful thing. But for those who were involved in what was actually happening, the accusation has brought no fear --- only a desire that the fearing ones begin to know something of the multiplying love and liberty being experienced in a widening circle because this one man was free to love and be loved, and to trust the varied shapes that God’s wonderful love frequently takes.
I remember all the warnings about man-worship in my early years of training in the law. I took them seriously until this man appeared who, for a time, inspired what seemed like “worship”. I knew I responded to this man and delighted to be with him, as I had no other in my experience; so all the careful warnings went by the board. I knew somehow that I was responding to more than mere man, yet I didn’t fully understand. I felt accepted, and I appreciated and enjoyed being with him. I began to hear his words, which were saying outrageous things about me; saying, in effect, that I was not the liability I had always thought I was; no, I was a precious container of God’s life. As I acknowledged that truth, I began to realize and know that the more-than-mere-man I was experiencing was God incarnate in me – God expressing His Life through flesh as He had from the beginning of time – that well kept secret now revealed in Jesus Christ. This was an astounding admission to make for such as me who had viewed God as the High and Lifted Up One, somehow accessible to me through Christ, but certainly separated from me and thus needing to be sought.
I began to understand Paul’s assertion that the children of Israel were baptized unto Moses, and his invitation to his own spiritual children to follow him, even as he followed Christ. Paul was free to relate to human beings in a way that might even look like man-worship to some observers.
As time passed, many were gathering behind this old man of stubborn love and began marching to his tune, in the same way as Paul’s children and the children who followed the Pied Piper of Hamlin. The tune was so beautiful that we couldn’t hear the cries of our faithful, fearful friends. We saw nothing of real value outside this captivation music. We romped together, laughed and teased and tussled, and others kept falling in at the back of the line.
Some of us felt that we would follow him forever, but the tune he played began working an unexpected pattern in the line. Every so often one of the followers would move from the line and go up to walk with him, taking up his tune. And as the line behind him grew, so did the line of marchers alongside him. And then people began appearing behind those co-marchers, delighting in them and regarding them as their leaders, having been captivated by the same eternal tune of liberated, spontaneous life in Christ.
One day an exuberant, newcomer was heard to shout, “Who started this mighty marching Army anyway? Those marching next to an old man heard him chuckle as he quietly noted, “He must increase: I must decrease.”