Sunday, March 25, 2007

Will the visible overcome the invisible?

Why do some Christians seem to be able to more fully express the life of Christ than others? Why is it that folks who have called themselves by the name of Christ for most of their lives produce so little fruit? Why do some who haven't known Him for long seem to ooze Christ from their pores? I have long wondered about this strange observance. I know that there are probably many reasons why a believer does not seem to grow and I certainly do not intend to over simplify the complexity of human beings.

We are by nature autonomous or at least like to think we are. We don't like anyone telling us what to do or how to do it and we certainly think we can figure life out on our own. I have already learned myself of the danger of living out of my feelings. Indeed we do not perceive reality as it really is but we perceive our perception of reality. That perception is colored and tinted by many, many factors. This is why the scripture speaks so plainly about renewing the mind with the truth. We do not know who we are without the truth. Without truth we are completely under the power of feelings, and perceptions that usually come out of our family origins.

A friend reminded me of Proverbs 27:17: "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." She stated that a big problem is that many of us are rubbing up against plastic, not iron. We do not have other people who are challenging us in all areas of our lives and spurring us on in the pursuit of God. We have superficial relationships that center around common interests or mutual arm's length interaction.

At the moment I am reading Kenneth Boa's book "That I May Know God." He states that we must live life with consistent discipline and exposure to the word within the context of the fellowship of like-minded believers. Without these "the visible will overcome the invisible." This is a profound statement.

In our time we live under the tyranny of the urgent, or at least what we deem urgent, and we are impatient. If we live in this way the temporal will slowly overcome the eternal in our lives. There are so many things determined to have our attention each day. Some of these things are good and some are not so good. Work, accumulation and entertainment have taken the place of seeking God and His people. Though my own life is rather simple in comparison to the lives of others who are raising children or have more responsibilities, I still have to fight to discipline myself to turn and face the Lord daily instead of chasing after whatever shiny thing happens to catch my attention each day. Some days it is easier than other days and some days I fail. But I find an emptiness and dissatisfaction in my life when I have spent my days focused solely on the temporal and have failed to connect with other believers and get the word of God into my heart and mind.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

God of Life or god of comfort?

While doing a petsit job I picked up the home owner's copy of "My Utmost for His Highest" that was on an end table. I haven't used that particular devotional in many years.
I opened to the entry for March 12th and began to read.

March 12, 2007
Total Surrender
Peter began to say to Him, ’See, we have left all and followed You’ —Mark 10:28

Our Lord replies to this statement of Peter by saying that this surrender is "for My sake and the gospel’s" (10:29). It was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves would get out of it. Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefits that may result. For example, "I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy." Being delivered from sin and being made holy are the result of being right with God, but surrender resulting from this kind of thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, "No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ’This is what God has done for me.’ " Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.
Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse—"Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further"
. "Then," Jesus says, "you ’cannot be My disciple’ "
True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.

Ouch. I have recently learned that I am a perfectionist. Though initially shocked at this assertion by my counselor, I am beginning to see evidences of it everywhere in my life. The place I did not recognize it prior is in my relationship with the Lord. I often lament and cry out to God to change me, to help me overcome my sinfulness, to make me more useful. I realized upon that reading that I was asking God to make me perfect. If I am perfect then I won't have to be embarassed, or be uncomfortable, I won't have to risk anything. Now, I know in and of themselves these requests may very well be good but I also know everything I do is peppered with the flesh, that my own heart is deceitful (maybe God can fix that, too...) and that I am naturally always looking to be in control somewhere in my life so that I can FEEL BETTER. My prayers have more to do with this motivation than becoming more like Christ. I am aware that He understands this fully and in His mercy continues to answer, yet this entry uncovered a drive in me that has little to do with the glory of God and a lot to do with my desire to fix myself and again, to FEEL BETTER. I see another area in my life where I seek out the god of comfort instead of the God of life. Again.......ouch.