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.


Wren said...

When Satan tested Job, he focused on a similar target. He told God that Job worshipped God for the "stuff." Remove the "stuff," he contended, and Job would curse God. So God permitted Satan to remove the "stuff."
Job passed the test and, although he was confused and upset at the sudden loss of blessings, still worshipped God and yearned for communication with God. Loss drew him closer to God than he ever expected to be.

Sometimes we need to be tested (hopefully not to the extent that Job was tested!) so that we can discover our own motivations and (unperceived) idols. The devotional you quoted gives us all food for thought. Thanks for the wise words.

Christy said...

Isn't Oswald a little tough on us here? I mean, isn't it God Himself who gives us any sort of desire for holiness ... any recognition and thus hatred of our sin? I feel like I'm still in the Christian preschool of learning to want holiness. How many light years away must I be from the complete surrender spoken of here?

My Utmost tends to make me feel more dispair than hope. Perhaps all the more evidence of my self-reliance ....

Could relate to your comments on it, though, Tracey, without so much depression. :-) A bit of a shock to my system to realize that maybe God's main goal isn't to make me feel good all the time. How can it be that it's not all about me?!?!