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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What God Has Done for Me

How would you explain to a non-Christian what God has done for you? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1019).

In answering this question, the first thing to mention is that my perspectives upon all things religious have been heavily influenced by Jesus Christ. Jesus showed clearly the practical implications of worshiping a loving God. Perhaps the first lesson to absorb is that living for God means that one's life will be filled with opposition and conflict since sin is fixed within the texture of life.

Anyone who attempts to follow their best lights and live a righteous life will unavoidably come to have a profoundly different perspective than one based upon the prevalent passions of the world. When we pray that God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, we thereby are enlisting in warfare. And what are the enemies of God? They include selfishness, self-righteousness, cruelty, falsehood, lust, idol worship, greed, hypocrisy, callousness, hubris, and spiritual blindness—all the things that Jesus railed against and eventually got him crucified. To be a Christian is to find oneself upon the firing line and to be deeply counter-cultural in decisive ways.

If one were to find themselves comfortable and content and in large agreement with the status quo, then they can be assured they have been co-opted by a sinful world. If they find themselves closely identifying with the powers that be on earth, then they are not identifying with the heavenly powers. For life as we know it is deeply different from the way God would have it. What Jesus taught is that other-worldly values and concepts have their direct claim on practical, everyday existence. Another way of putting it is that Godly abstractions [the fruit of the Spirit] are to be transformationally applied to the concrete factors of life here and now. And this is not merely private and personal, but replete with social implications. One of the key things that got Jesus crucified was not a reclusive, private, ascetic bent; but his critique of the powerful and influential and his overturning the tables that represented business-as-usual.

So worshiping God with a Christian spirit clearly has immediate, practical implications. But it also endows us with a long-term perspective giving life meaning and purpose. It gives us, within the whirly burly of life, a compass yielding strength, endurance, certitude, and peace that transcends understanding. It yields spiritual harmony amidst incredible turmoil and strife. It yields, in a phrase, an inner quietness, a “blessed assurance.” Our touchstone is the Holy Spirit that guides us in disciplines of love. All other laws—rules and regs—pale in comparison.

The worship of God also gives us a servant's heart. We are to humbly love and serve God and man. Confidence in God is markedly different from “standing tall.” It is, rather, standing unflinchingly humble and true. It is to be blessed by the grace of God.

Finally, God's love gives us freedom. The security of God's love frees us—as it freed Jesus—from the incessant search for human endorsement and approval. Of course, Jesus had his disciples and one especially that he loved. In this sense, I guess we can say that he needed and enjoyed human friendship. But he was willing to face the fact that even his closest friends would abandon him upon his arrest by authorities. He understood well the frailties of the human frame, but rested secure in the love of his Heavenly Father. Even death could not separate him from the love of God.

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