When the kids get sick, you lose your job, someone you love dies, your house gets flooded or whatever, it is absolutely vital that you understand that these have no bearing on how God feels about you. Let’s ask ourselves a question, was Jesus’ sufferings a sign that God was displeased with Him because He fell short in His performance? Did Paul suffer more before or after He chose to follow Jesus? I am not saying that all life is supposed to be bad and that we shouldn’t do our best, but I am saying a challenge free, pain free, get my own way all the time utopia in this life is nothing more than a flesh inspired, childish pipe dream.
In so many places today God is seen as a means to get the comfy life we desire, many agree to His commands as a way to live a better life. The problem with this is that we take God’s call to holiness and reduce it to a formula for success; the irony being of course that because of this we often become total spiritual failures. This is however a very tricky line to walk because without doubt God answers our prayers, He blesses us with provision, healing and all kinds of marvellous works but these do not guarantee us the Hollywood Celebrity Lifestyle we so often crave.
How we see God and what happens in our lives has a huge bearing on how we view and what will expect from church. If we have religious, legalistic or unrealistic expectations then we will find it very difficult to adapt to what God is doing in the church. Let’s look at a few examples:
God has made us right with Himself because of Jesus.
If we think we can sin our way out of salvation the atmosphere of our church will be very different from those that believe they have been forever rescued from sin, death and the grave. Instead of freedom and joy there will be a heaviness when we fail and smugness when we think we are getting things right.
Jesus did not come to start a new religion.
Jesus came to rescue people from religion and have them born into His Father’s Kingdom. If we approach God and one another with a religious mindset our experience will be very different from those who see God as their Father and see one another as family.
Our purpose is not to be successful in the World’s eyes
If we follow Jesus people will often think we are off the wall. Jesus has asked us to lose our lives and not worry about wealth and security. If we don’t believe this our religious endeavours will mainly be toward bettering our lives in the here and now, which will be in direct conflict with the actual life Jesus has for His church.
Unity and equality
We Have already been made one by the Holy Spirit and God has no favourites. If we believe we have a right to be seen as that bit better or more important than the next person then we will sacrifice the essence of the church family and create a competitive and indifferent environment.
As believers we know we are our brother’s keeper which means the needs of the people around us are our responsibility. We understand that when we say the “the church should…” we really mean “I should”. Failure to appreciate this means that we will look for a way to outsource our spiritual responsibilities to a ministry or someone else ‘less important and with more time’.
There is no law
We have been saved into the life of the Holy Spirit. We could never keep God’s commandments well enough for Him to save us. Similarly we cannot perform to a high enough standard for God to bless us, we simply have to trust Him for the good He has promised. If we don’t believe this our churches will be a meritocracy where superiority is gained by apparent blessing and those who are suffering will be believed to be failing somewhere.
In order for us to thrive in an organic/ viral church we need to be grounded in the saving grace of Almighty God. Without this we will poison the work and recreate a man centred, religious and disconnected group that so many of us have escaped from. I think the problem many of us face is that we have come out of the Christendom style of church but it isn’t necessarily out of us 😉 This is where we need to throw ourselves on God’s goodness and ask Him to transform our thinking, which I know from experience He is very happy to do. But we must remember, when we ask God to change us He rarely gives us an anaesthetic whilst going for His scalpel. In my experience He invites us on a journey and the challenges, fears and difficulties that journey brings lead us into a discovery of our confusion and brokenness. And then when you wonder if the journey will ever end you suddenly discover that He is not so much taking you somewhere else, but rather leading you into a discovery of what is already yours in Him, whilst freeing you from more of your captivity and bondage.
God really is totally good, there is no darkness or evil in Him. His plans for you are good but good doesn’t always mean easy, He sees all our lives on an eternal scale, He knows what He has for us throughout all of eternity. Because of this we can rejoice even in sufferings, Satan can fling his arrows, the world can crash into us head-on but nothing will separate us from the Father’s love for us and whatever happens He has already made provision to ensure that even the worst of things will work for our good. Of course when we are in the middle of the storm these things are not always easy to believe, therefore let’s encourage one another to run to Him, and not hide from Him – even when the going gets tough.
You are loved!
Be encouraged my friends 🙂