“Wanting God to be God is very different from wanting God to help us.”
(Gulp.) I was arrested by that statement. It followed in the wake of a related question that’s been on my mind lately. Namely, Does God exist for me--to bless me, help me, answer all my questions, provide all my needs (and wants and longings and dreams…)—or in fact, do I exist for Him?! Yikes.
Do you ever wonder how much you are affected by living in a narcissistic culture—a culture that encourages you to find yourself, take care of yourself, pursue your dreams, and be happy! Has this message seeped into my life? Am I jarred at how it clashes with Jesus’ words on how to really find life…
--“He who loves his life will lose it. He who loses it for the sake of the Kingdom of God will find it”. That’s pretty counter-cultural.
--“Take no thought what you will eat, drink, wear…” Wait a minute, what about going ‘organic’, drinking vitamin water just case I missed anything or at least buying filtered, and wearing bamboo?
--“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” pretty much puts any self-centered dreams on hold! and
--‘Be happy’ is not a command I recall finding in the Bible. “Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” is more like it…
So what am I saying? I’m wondering if it’s possible to be a frog warming in a frying pan and not know it. Water feels warm, nice, think I’ll just sit here and be cozy… Narcissism is a pretty comfortable state for the ‘old man’ in each of us.
And as for whether God exists for me, well, His word declares He is ‘for us’ doesn’t it?! He didn’t spare even His only Son but gave Him up for us all. How much more freely will He not give us all things?! And He has. We are incredibly blessed in this culture. Even the poorest of us live in comparative wealth. But I think this is precisely where the trouble begins. We begin to mistake material gain for spiritual blessing. Yes, God has blessed me incredibly with a family, a home, even a car and a dog... And every day He ‘loadeth me with benefits’. But have all these material benefits actually duped me into thinking these are God’s primary blessings in my life?! Or that He exists for my benefit? How has this affected my expectations of Him? (What does my ‘wish list’ look like?) Does your family grab the ‘wishbone’ when you gobble a turkey and make a wish before you pull? What do you wish for?
Have I begun to think God is obligated to provide for my comfort? In fact, He wants me happy and that’s why He’s there inviting me to ask for whatever I want. I can begin to be deluded that God is there for me. And my ‘spiritual’ life can begin to be all about me. Even pursuing Christlikeness can be self-gratifying. After all, who doesn’t want perfect peace, joy and fellowship? I will be happier when I am like Jesus, right? And besides, when I’m like Jesus, my kids will see Him and want to be like Him more and that too will make me happy! It’s all about me.
OK, so this is beginning to be a little confusing. Am I thinking too hard here? There’s more to say about the other half of the picture—that I’m here FOR HIM. But first, let me know if you’re following this train of thought at all…
I’ll leave you for this week with another quote from the man who made the opening one.
“God being God offends human pride. If God is running the universe and has first claim on our lives, guess who isn’t running the universe and does not get to have things as they please?”
Eager for your thoughts on the matter,
Quotes from: Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice (Willard & Johnson), p.41,37
I have been pondering the same thoughts too. This morning I was reading from John 6 verse 25,26. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.
27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
This made me think about what is motivating my walk with Jesus. Is it about me and my needs or about him.
Yea, I think there's a quality of life in Jesus that we are pretty clueless about. I'm really liking Dallas Willard's way of talking about it: "The ones who are immersed in the life of God have a power and character that are strange to this world. They know they are dust (Ps 103:14) and have attached themselves to the life that is the 'light of men'(Jn.1:4) Eternal life is a different KIND of life, not just the duration of life... and it begins now...See Galatians 2:20 It's about Christ living in me, through me...somehow...Thanks for sharing your 'find'! from John. It's so 'right on'...
Your blogs have been very convicting lately! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and challenges, and for constantly directing us to God's Word for guidance.
I have been reading James where it talks about storing up treasure for yourselves in the last days...which reminds one of the passage somewhere else where Jesus says to store up treasure in heaven. People worrying and preoccupied with gold as a safe haven etc. while James speaks clearly on that very issue. It is a battle not to get sucked into this cultures mindset.....it has seeped in for sure!
Where would we be without the Spirit's conviction?! It hits me first before it hits my blog--you're welcome Bernis--thank YOU for reading along.
I do find it's easier Val, to see where others are going off--takes conscious focus to keep my eyes on my path! I'm cleaning out my closet, no gold there but sure a lot of 'this world's goods'!
OUCH! All I can say is this recent pondering of yours reminds me of the stages of the development of a child...first we are hungry and helpless, needing nurture and warmth. Then we are curious and playfull, needing instruction, guidence and correction. Next we look for our purpose and begin to walk as adults. It is when we are adults that we learn to sacrifice selfish desires for the next generation. Could it be that this maturing process that God created for human development is mirrored in our life in Christ? That it is all a part of the plan?
I can not claim to be quite where you are yet...but I have had a recurring thought lately that comes to my mind almost as an interruption (or commercial, if you will). The thought is this: "You have had your youth,your life, your education, and exploration, etc; now it is time to give yourself away." Could it be that the Still, Small, Voice is speaking to the emerging and aging adults, saying these things in preparation... and that instead of conviction, it is really consecration, of even conscrioption?
I am looking forward to reading the second part of your pondering.
K.P. Yohannan says that in North America, we expect, once we are saved, to live abundantly (physically) blessed lives, which contrasts to Asia, where, when they become saved, they can expect to lose everything, their families, even their lives.
Somehow that thought seemed to fit here.
I have thoughts on your pondering about invoking the Holy Spirit. We should have tea. :)
Oh D of the K, You have such a way of giving perfect word pictures. I think these stages probably are precisely the mirror we need of our relationship with the Father. I feel like I am just an immature helpless child so much of the time. John talks about becoming 'young men' and 'fathers'. Wow. Time to give ourselves away. Whew! That is in fact what we're called to isn't it. I confess, it is so much easier to write about the way things should be than to have them penetrate my heart and get worked out... I thank you for your input here. Your quiet life being who you are called to be inspires me. Maybe God wants to increase our spheres of influence as we become 'older woman' What do you think? I am content to be home, but my home could dissolve anytime with the kids growing older so fast... And maybe what I'm feeling is pressure to grow up! Thank-you much for your words. They encourage me always.
Nothing like the perspective from another culture to challenge our way of thinking. That statement from KP is pretty bracing. We know nothing of persecution for our faith. I think the Church would be so different in N.America if we had an inkling of it...
As for tea, your place or mine? Drop me a note.
Linda, you are thoughtful, honest, humble and gracious. These qalities are obvoius and our Father knows he can rely on you to display, share and encourage them in others. I thank Him for placing you and keeping you in my life. I love you.
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