January 19, 2014

Love Allows Things to Go Wrong

I find the prosperity preachers a contemptible lot because they preach a god that will not save a person from their suffering. Only one that will give them everything they want, when they want it. When things really hit the fan the god these hucksters teach will be more useless than a dirty diaper. Why? Because the god they teach doesn’t exist. Christians have a God of suffering and a God that is acquainted with sorrow. He suffered for the exact fact they He would endure what was travail common to men. He did this so when humans were in their worst shape possible and at their wit’s end in woe…they would be assured that there was a God in Heaven at the right hand of the Father that would act on our behalf and would know how we felt. An advocate that would be able to reach us in our suffering because He had already been there. A God that died and rose again in perfect accord with Scripture. As a matter of fact, the God the "health and wealth" preachers preach about is a god that is next to worthless. He will be of no support when the world turns black and there is little or no hope.

So where is God in all of the crisis and all of the chaos?

He’s usually nearer than He has ever been but we cannot see it through either the suffering or our sin. We should not expect that he will intervene to relieve us from every possible trial. The inverse is probably true. We should expect that he will allow us to go through the trials and tribulations to help us build character and speed along out sanctification.

So the question will often arise: How does suffering improve us when it feels like it is tearing us to pieces? Therein lies the first misconception. That we should equate how we feel in terms of pleasure and easy sailing to an improved spiritual status in life. Our feelings are God-given but tainted by the Fall. We need to understand that our perception of what is improvement when attached to feelings is often temporal and fleeting. What once excited us and gave us pleasure will fade away. What teaches us to persevere will be of lasting value. Why? Because what we gain and what we learn in our dark days and trials will endure through the good days along with the tempest seas of life. How? Read on my dear friend…

Suffering forces us to depend solely on God. God is all powerful. He is immutable and unchanging. He is perfect and holy. If our perseverance is founded an rooted in Him it will stand firm in the face of the most severe adversity. True to His character, the unchanging nature we have rooted our strength and will not waver in the stiffest gale nor drown in the cauldron of a roiling sea.  When we trust solely in the Lord God Almighty we can know that strength is not of ourselves. We will not be tempted to say, “My power and my strength built this and what I have that is good…is my own doing!” This is just not true as it is the work of God, the sovereign God of the Bible. This is why we struggle and are broken. Most will never reach this point until death because they are never really humbled, never really broken and contrite.

We must be still under His rod and be truly humble. Straining against the sharp spines and hooks only causes more pain. Yet straining against the sharp and painful barbs teaches us to moderate our effort to best effect. It teaches us to avoid obvious pitfalls and failures. It shows us limitations and guides us.

In addition, being Christ-like sometimes requires that one cleans up after others that make a mess or catastrophe of things. Sometimes being Christ-like requires that one allows others to go their own way in error and make messes of things. They will unknowingly often be causing their own suffering and you will know they are doing this but it is through the suffering of their own error that they learn the most poignant lesson. It is often the sweat and toiling of a failed effort that teaches us the most profound and life-altering things in our short life. For a man that is dull of wits, it sometimes takes a harsh crack upside the head to get him to pay attention.

Many will make a mess of things because they thought they knew better acting in their sin. They end up destroying everything they touch because of their sin. You will then come along in support of them to clean up after them because they were too bold or foolish to listen to calmer minds that knew the trouble they would get themselves into. We see this a lot in the mature believers versus the immature believers. We see this in the parent child relationship.

A true mature Christian that is like Christ (God) will allow these mistakes as a learning process and still be willing to come along after to clean up. God is patient and long-suffering. We need to be also...otherwise we become a hammer that all the nails that frame the Kingdom wish to avoid. It teaches the person observing the errant brother to be patient and full of grace. In this way the mature Christian acts more akin to God in their behavior. It is also in this way that God comes near through others in the Body of Christ. How? Because the body of Christ is indwelt of God and is therefore Kingdom by its very nature. 

When we let people make their own decisions in freewill even when they are sinful decisions, we allow the error to teach the lesson. We cannot completely control someone and call it love. A person must be free to make their own mistakes. Can we correct them and rebuke when necessary? Of course we can but to try and control them is to try and remove the freewill God gave them that even He will not revoke. Why? Because if God makes you obey His commands and makes you love Him...it really is not obedience or love…is it? It is coercion and despotic.

People must be let go to back their own choices even if they are sin. A real brother will be there to help when the other brother falls. A really mature believer will tolerate the brazen foolishness in an expectation that the person will change. They will do the clean-up and patiently endure more in grace hoping that God’s grace will eventually affect them and they will end up seeing the error of their ways. This is the difference between a Christian that matures and one the merely gets older but does not mature. We see this in Christ’s actions with people like Peter and the other apostles. We see this in the relationship Jesus had with Nicodemus. It is the grace that makes the change.

Should the error be ignored totally and allowed to occur over and over? No. We should rebuke and inform why it is error but we cannot force our belief on anyone. It is through our Christ-like behaviors in grace that we win them to the correct behavior. It is through our introductions to the truth of Scriptures that the change becomes permanent.

Many people (including myself) need to realize that at times they do not have answers to issues and acknowledge this fact instead of trying to bulldoze through an issue on sheer willpower and stubbornness trying to fix every problem that arises. As my wife has told me often. “I don’t want you to fix it, I just want to know you are listening.” Sometimes people just need to talk and they need you as a sounding board.

I find that too many times too many people “know too much” and are unwilling to humble themselves in grace. Altercations and conflicts then result and things that could’ve been easily resolved or end sooner in terms or suffering become intensified. Issues that should’ve been about obedience and learning then become about winning arguments or convincing one’s self that they were right rather than learning from the suffering and resolving problems. The things like hidden sin that God was trying to show us through our trials.  As a believer we must accept that, no matter how bad a situation appears…it is temporary and it has been allowed in our lives by a sovereign God. He might not give us the ability to get away from the suffering but will give us the strength to get through the suffering.

It is better to not fight it and try to get to the root of the problem through prayer and honest examination of one’s life. God usually will not force things on us unless we are really thick-headed…so learn where possible and look to Him when prolonged travail appears inevitable. Being Christian is about suffering and endurance. It is not about happy thoughts and paradise on earth. It is not about you best life now or “name it and claim it”. Jesus opened the Sermon on the Mount and minced no words. These are not recommendations for the Christian life…they are expectations. They are not a how-to guide to a life…they are how to grade or examine it. The Beatitudes are what you should’ve already been. If a righteous man is a blessed man than these statements assume you will be meek, poor in spirit, mourning, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, etc. At the end we see the statement that surmises them all…Blessed are those that are persecuted for being Christian (righteous) because why? Because in the end, the final reward is heaven which will make all suffering pale by comparison. I pray this comforts any in suffering right now.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Think about it for a second people. What if God made everything easy for you? What if He never allowed people to suffer? People would never be able to appreciate the good because they would have no bad to measure it by. Life would become a uniform monotonous hell. There is just something about toiling in effort to achieve something that makes a person appreciate it more. There is something right within the toiling and effort itself that makes one realize what it is to be alive...what it is to be human. 

Pain and suffering in this life is inevitable. How we learn from it and deal with it is not. It is unique to each and every person the experiences it. The best basis with which to deal with it is found within the pages of Scripture and in prayer to God.


facts fair said...

I keep hearing about "prosperity preachers" but I haven't been able to really detect any. The inspiration to stand up and try to reach our fellows with revelations of God's Love blows from Heaven, and only He sees the sincerity of people's hearts. Scripture tells us that avoiding or even denying the name of the Saviour who came to die for us is the criterion that separates fake spiritual 'fruit' of New Age follies and false religions. But in the Christian body God deals with us as siblings of Jesus, the eldest of many brethren. We are kids that make mistakes and need chastisement...this is not the fault of the various ministries. When encouragement is preached, the hearer can use it to chase material prosperity. When repentance is preached, the hearer can go to an extreme of legalism & condemnation. We don't choose for God when He wants to be good cop or bad cop, He raises up both sorts of ministry, granting revelation of both mercy and justice, when He sees the need. The prosperity-chasing error is for me to avoid. when God's great generosity is the subject of any Christian sermon that I hear. Cheers, Andy! (:D

facts fair said...

Maybe the negative bent of our enemy to constantly bombard our minds with condemning voices causes us to err with extra pity when we see the sad effect on our fellow humans...even though our Father may think more correction is needed. That might be the mis-placed encouragement, and smoothing of feelings that results in drive-by prayers and enabling of people to avoid the true deep repentance that makes us cry out to be changed!

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