Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gaps beware!

I see gaps ... I fill gaps.
really don't like gaps.

So when I finished last week's blod on living by faith but felt there was still room for misunderstanding, I decided I'd better linger over a few points in this week's space as well.

The perfect personification of my concern in leaving them unaddressed is a professor I took a class from in college. The class was called something like "Introduction to Philosophy", but I thought a more appropriate name would have been "Irate Rants Against Christianity, Which I Hate - 101".

If he hadn't been what I can now clearly identify as an intellectual bully (captive audience + bitterness - filter = cruelty), he might have made some inroads. As it was, everyone just thought he was a lunatic.

I recall one rant in particular that drove me right to the edge of dropping his class.

He'd read a newspaper article that morning about a youth who was killed by a drunk driver. The focus of the article was the young man's parents, who were incredibly dedicated and well-taught Christians. They were quoted as saying something like, "We have chosen to forgive the man who killed our son. That's God's will for us. He forgave us, so we will forgive him. And as horrible as this is, we also chose to believe that God allowed this to happen. And so, we will continue to give Him thanks and believe that good will come."

Oh boy, did that ever poke the bear!

He spent the entire hour that day expounding on how idiotic faith in God was - as evidenced by those grieving parents. How dare they forgive the man! How incredibly stupid could they be to think that God (Oh yeah, and isn't He supposed to be love??!!) could have allowed such a thing to happen? Etc. The tirade was morbid and disgusting. And pathetic, all rolled up into one.

And this leads me right into my first point.

We know by faith that God allows whatever happens to us. It may not feel good, but by faith we know that it is good.

This point counters the mistaken belief that if we don't like something it must be bad. This is a foolishly self-centered and emotion-based belief. It should have no place in the thinking of a person of God.

Luckily, I got to a experience personal example of this last week.

The opportunity came while waiting for the results of a blood test that would confirm or deny the existence of a fairly serious problem. And it wasn't even for me. Worse by far, it was for one of my children.

Anyone who's done this knows that waiting by itself is bad enough. But even better (ie, worse), while her blood was successfully tested, her test results were misplaced. It took a couple of long, potentially annoying days to get them found again. And during that time, I waited, wanting to do something but pretty much impotent.

Finally, about 24 hours into this, my faith kicked back in. I stopped fretting, let go, and prayed. "Lord, I really want her to be healthy, but if she has this thing, it was your decision. So I know it's for the best. I will leave this in Your hands and choose to rejoice in whatever the outcome is."

I didn't think about it again until the doctor called with a negative (ie, good!) result. And even though I wasn't tested, I sincerely believe I was ready to react with faith, even if it had been positive (ie, bad).

Trusting in God and all that He has revealed must be based on what He has actually revealed.

This point counters our tendency to try and hold God to promises He never made. It may seem like this could go without saying. But it can't. I'm absolutely certain this problem is epidemic, even among true disciples.

Two distinct errors are involved.

1. We decide what we want to happen and then get it in our heads that God couldn't possibly allow any other outcome. We just make up random things like, "Lord, please don't let it snow today! I'm sick of snow. And my shovel is broken." And then we actually get mad at God when it snows!

(Anyone sense that I've been lucky enough to recently experience this point also?)

2. We think if we pray hard enough, believe strong enough, offer enough sacrifice, or "deserve" it enough, we will get what we want. Even if it's nothing God has promised.
Our faith must never be founded on mere positive thinking. Just because we sincerely truly positively believe something, if the idea came from our own heads, God is in no way obliged to comply. 

Now, that said, He certainly might comply. I'm not saying He will never honor a sincere and righteous desire of His children. But we must always be aware that His purposes are infinitely greater than ours, and His scope is a whole lot wider.

The wise Christian will find, memorize, treasure and believe not only God's promises, but all relevant statements and commands as well.

By this, I mean commands like:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

And statements like:

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.


If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.

Why? Because coming from a loving and omniscient God, commands and statements of fact are exactly the same thing as promises. They are absolutely true reflections of Reality (notice I capitalized the "R"?) and should be taken into account at all times.

There! Now I think the gaps are gone.