Thursday, September 29, 2016
Thoughtful About . . . The Right View of God
Our Bible studies are famous for getting off track . . . but resulting in some awesome discussions. Last night our study of Daniel led us to a conversation on why people might lose faith--why, specifically, God might put them in a situation where they end up losing faith.
It doesn't really fit our view of how God works, right? We have all those awesome sayings: God doesn't give you more than you can handle. God is always going to work things out for your better good.
But is that right? Is that what He actually says?
As my hubby (who loves to ask all the hard questions in our studies) pointed out, God never promises to work things for our good--He promises to work things for THE good. And He certainly never promises not to give us more than we can bear. He just promises to bear it with us, for us, when we turn to Him.
But what if we don't?
The example that got David asking this was from WWII, when some of the Righteous Among the Nations--the people who had gone out of their way to save Jews during the Holocaust--who had felt God calling them to help, then turned from Him, overwhelmed by the depravity of man and their own ineffectual actions. The Jews recognized them as doing great work, but they didn't see it. They saw only the horror, and so much of it that they decided that if this was what God had called them to do, then they wanted nothing to do with God anymore.
That's hard. Right? And optimistic me says, "But surely God drew them back to Him in the end!" But what if these folks really had hardened their heart so much against Him that they didn't want to turn back? I don't know if they did. I don't know if God treats these people in a different way, pouring mercy upon their souls. I don't know.
But what I do know is that we're less likely to be one of those people if we have a right view of God.
So often, I think Christians aren't worshiping God as He is--we're worshiping God as we want Him to be. We want to think that God is all mercy, when in truth He is also perfect justice. We want to think that God obeys our definition of "fair," when in reality He probably shakes His head at how limited our definition is. We think in terms of us. We have such a self-centered view of God, of Christianity, that it's hard for us to fathom that sometimes He asks us to die. He lets loved ones die. True, world-wide tragedy happens.
Yes, God asks us to work in a situation when we never see the good that comes of it.
Why? Because there's more than we can see. And because it isn't about us, it's about the people we're called to help. It's about the Kingdom.
Yes, God asks us to trust in Him when men like Hitler are out to obliterate the Good News. When thousands, millions are killed.
Why? Because men have the free will to fight Him and to kill His people in the process. God will "let" that happen . . . but never to the point where it will destroy His Kingdom. Don't you think Judah cried out at the slaughter at the hands of the Babylonians? That Israel thought God unfair, that He wasn't worth serving when the Assyrians destroyed them? Yes. I'm sure they did. I'm sure some, whose faith was in their own idea of God, lost that faith.
But the faith itself grew. Exile was what turned Judaism from a general religion to a personal faith. These terrible, awful, never-should-have-happened things were used by God to further the Kingdom, even though it means some lost faith . . . lost faith in their false ideas.
We've been studying the ancient world in school, learning about the greatest of the ancient kings. And do you know what made them great? They put the kingdom above all else. Above personal glory. Above love of one individual. They would fight wars or make odd peace treaties to preserve and expand their nation.
God is the BEST king. He is working, always, for the good of the Kingdom. That means making decisions we, as mere peons in His army, don't understand. It means people will die. It means war and famine and flood and cancer and dictators and atheism and . . . who knows what else. It means some will lose faith. It means more will come to it. It means the wheat will be separated from the chaff. It means so much more than we can fathom.
More, honestly, than most of us want to think about. We want life to be good. To be fair. To be easy. We want our loved ones not to die. We want our children to be perfectly healthy. We want respect and admiration.
Sorry, y'all. God promises us hardship. Disrespect. He promises that brother will turn on brother and father on son. He promises persecution and death and trial.
But He also promises peace and love and joy and a wisdom the world cannot understand. He promises to lift us above our circumstances--not to change our circumstances.
And that right there is one of the greatest epiphanies I ever had, a few years ago. We don't serve a God who changes circumstances alone--we serve a God who changes souls. He doesn't say, "I'll make the hurtful thing stop." He says, "I'll lend you My strength to get through it."
Sometimes--often--that actually means stripping away the things we thought were important. To get us back to the place where we have only that one truly important thing.