January 23, 2007

The Hardest Thing Ever

He you become a believer, God will rain his blessings upon you. Ask and ye shall receive. You will go to heaven, where the streets are paved with gold. You will be an angel and be able to bask in the glory of the Lord forever. Etc. etc. etc.......

How many times as a believer have you heard the lines above to describe what becoming or being a "christian" is all about. I call it the "Christian Lottery" line that is given to non-believers in order to get them to convert. Why does the mainstream evangelical complex lie to gain converts. Because to them, the end justifies the means. To me, it means that being a believer and a servant of God, is the biggest let down that there is.

He will purify us by throwing us in the fire, as a goldsmith purifies Gold. This means, that God will continually be throwing us things that we do not like. Things that burn away anything that we hold onto in this life. Things that we truly hold dear, and do not want to let go. He will take away our pride, our love of material possessions like clothes, cars and houses. He will take away anything that gets in the way of our relationship with him. Why, to make us into the vessel he would like us to be, not the one we want to be. All God asks, is utter-complete-total surrender, absolute obedience, and implicit reliance on him. Isn't that great, we get nothing to call our own. But we do get to be one of God's Children. Being a believer is the same as being a servant, for eternity. That is why it is the hardest thing ever.

When we have no control over our lives, we have to live by faith. True faith is the hardest road to follow. The path is straight and narrow, and few can stay on it. People normally stray because of comfort. "Hey this job pays a ton!" Or, "this little lie will get me out of so much hot water." Or, "They didn't charge me for it, why should I tell them they made a mistake." Or, "No one saw me hit the car, I'm not leaving a note." All to your benefit and comfort. Doing the right thing in all of those situations is really hard. Others stray for tangible security. Money in the bank. Medical insurance at this job. Retirement planning. But God asks us just to rely on him. That is why it is the hardest thing ever, it is very hard to trust everything to faith.

My grandfather loves to talk about LMDs, last minute deliveries. Meaning God delivers us from our troubles at the last possible moment. Why, because by then we KNOW we are helpless to control the situation, and that deliverance can only have come from God. Even putting it this mildly, it does not even begin to describe the difficulty of the situations we as servants face, and face often. God systematically runs us through his boot camp, by tearing down any structured belief we had about ourselves, and replacing it with Himself. Where we once had self reliance, we now only have God. The ripping of those things away from us is EXTREMELY painful. That is why it is the hardest thing ever.

Why with all of this trouble should we become Believers and life long Servants. It is obviously the benefits. If God is in control of everything, and he is, he will always take care of you and give you what you need. Not what you want, what you need. He will give you the Liberty of spirit, peace, comfort, the feeling of security, love, and wisdom. None of these has a monetary value really, but spiritually, they are priceless. When Grace finally descends upon your spirit, there is no better feeling in the world. Nothing more free or wonderful. Nothing better than knowing that I don't have to worry, because at the last minute, God will take care of me. Yes it is the hardest thing ever, but the most rewarding thing ever.

January 17, 2007

Works Because Of Faith

This is the hotly contested issue surrounding the DO (doctrinal organization/church of today) in the world today when measuring the doctrines they have, versus a Grace based "Servant" belief. They point out, and rightly so, that being a "Christian" there are things that you must do to enter the Kingdom Of God.(KOG) The proof of this is in Matthew 25 verses 31 through 46. This is where is describes Jesus judgement of all men. Please read it at this point from whatever version of bible that you choose to use. It describes Jesus separating the Goats from the Sheep. There is a lot of significance if that. Goats were put among the sheep to protect them because they were headstrong and would not follow easily, and would attack things that they did not like around them. This is why they were kept with the sheep. This is the perfect analogy for the Servant based belief system versus the DO works based belief system. The servant based belief system says that we follow God where ever he leads, just like sheep will. The goats will not follow as they should. They will believe that what they are doing is the correct thing and God will see that what they do, will show how they feel, and how deep their faith in Jesus runs. Either way, Jesus is judging the actions that we have taken in our lives, and determining whether they are "works guided by the Holy Spirit (HS) or guided by our own desires and beliefs. Now that the set up is over, let's get to it.

I have spoken of Core Beliefs in other posts, and these go to the heart of the matter in obedience to God. Not once, have I ever heard of any DO anywhere, explaining why, when the sheep look at God and say, "When did we feed, cloth, take you in, or give you drink?" To me, this is the most important part of the WHOLE parable. The why, is that they did not know they were doing it. You say "How is it possible not to know you are doing those things?" Because of Core Beliefs. What CBs do is cause you to act automatically, and without thought. When a situation arises that needs immediate reaction, CBs take over, and you act according to what you believe. For example, you find yourself in a situation with a person that looks likely to beat you up almost immediately. Based on CBs, you can choose to do certain things. If you do not believe in violence, you may try to reason, or find a way out of the situation. If you believe that what the person is upset about important enough not to back down, you may stand your ground and prepare to fight. Or you believe yourself to be stronger than the other person and attack. Same situation, and three very different responses. But, not uncommon responses, only unconscious reactions. This is why people do not know that they help the least of these. Because they do it without thinking about it, since it is no big deal, they do not remember it. That is what being a servant of God is all about. Following like a sheep, no questions, no doubts, no worries, no what about me's, no HESITATION. Just OBEDIENCE. Obedience so ingrained, that you do not even notice when you are doing it. This is going to sound crude, but it gets the point across. Do you remember the details of wiping your butt two weeks ago? It is something that to most of us is important. It is something that I truly believe is a good thing. Something I do everyday, well pretty much everyday. But it does not leave a lasting impression on me. It is a learned behavior, one that I had to be taught. One that I believed important enough to continue my whole life. It is a Core Belief of mine, and I always act upon it, even though it does not leave an impression. Were our beliefs in God as strong as our belief in wiping our own butts, the world would truly be a better place. Sorry, stray thought. But powerful none the less.

Now to the DOs versions of works. This is where the Goats say, "But Lord, I did visit the least of these in prison, gave them food, and took them in!" "ON December 17th, 2003 our church group went to the prison for a visit. On Thanksgiving the next year, we volunteered in a soup kitchen. For Easter Seals we formed up a clothing drive every year." Listing the good works they had done on and on. Why now would these things be remembered. Because they were out of the ordinary. They stood out. They were not the norm. It was something that the person had to tell themselves that, "Hey, this is what Jesus says we should do, so I am going to make myself do it to show Jesus that I am good enough for heaven." So they teach Sunday School, even though they really do not like doing it. They do daily devotions, so they can talk about what they have read in church later that week. They can spout of all of the things they do to make sure Jesus is happy with them. But it is not automatic, it is not a core belief, and it does not please the one that gave Jesus the authority to be the Judge. God. God gave the Holy Spirit to each and every one of us, to help us discern his will for us. When we listen to what the DOs tell us to do to get Jesus notice and approval, we have already lost the battle. Because we are not to listen to what the DO told us to do, we are supposed to listen to what God tells us to do through the Holy Spirit.

That is why the Goats are in with the Sheep in the story. I believe the story is about the "church". The Goats and the Sheep the different people in the church, and what God thinks about them. Most people remember Dana Carvey's character the Church Lady. Anyone who has been in a DO very long, knows people like the church lady. They are definitely the Goats. And there are many who are. But the only reassuring thing is Grace. Jesus will be able to see through the why of the act, and get to the intent of the act. Was it to show Jesus you are good enough for him? Or was it because the belief was so strong, you did it with out conscious thought, and just obeyed God. Jesus will judge, with God's authority behind him, how well you listened to the Holy Spirit.

The works that bear fruit come because of listening to the Holy Spirit. The works come because they are born of Faith that created the Core Beliefs that guide everyday actions. The works come because, you can not stop them. But no person on the planet, PERIOD, can tell you what the mind of GOD is expecting of you. NO ONE. Not you Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, or Reverend can tell you what God wants you to do. Why, because only God knows his plan for you, and only the Holy Spirit can tell it to you. No one else can, PERIOD, END OF STORY.