Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Remember Who and Whose You Are

            Someone was recently telling me that they believe in “God,” just not the God of the Bible - because they couldn’t accept the idea of a wrathful God or one who allows suffering.  What kind of a God would do that? God is supposed to be loving and mushy and soft.
            A lot of people have this view.  They want a “God,” they just don’t want Him to act like one.  They will admit that some Great Being created this earth, but they don’t give Him the right to run it.  (And obviously, they don’t realize that God also has a “holy and just” side.  They just want the soft, loving side.)
Most of us at some point struggle with remembering who we are and who He is.  For unbelievers, they might refuse to admit that a Great Creator can do with His creation whatever He wants to.  And it doesn’t have to make sense to us.  They use “I can’t believe in a God who . . .” to reject a biblically-based faith.  They want the comfort of believing in a gentle, benevolent, withdrawn “God” without having to make Him “Lord” of their lives.  They want a Creator; they just don’t want a Master.
            But to a degree, Christians do the same thing.  We want God to be there when we want Him, to do what we want Him to do.  We live like He’s there for us, not that we’re here for Him.  We want a loving God to care for us and give us good things.  We just don’t want Him to interfere with our comfort or our plans.  We’re okay with Him being Savior; it’s just the “Lord” part that we have trouble with. 
            We don’t want God to prune us or challenge us or discipline us.  We don’t want to accept pain and suffering and “less than.”  We don’t want to hear “no” to our prayers.  We want a God that “gives,” not one that “takes away.”  We don’t want to pursue righteousness; we would rather pursue happiness.  After all, God just wants us to be happy, right?
            Wrong.  God wants us to be living sacrifices.  To die to self.  To become more like Jesus.  To be faithfully obedient.  He wants us to put others above ourselves. To trust that His “rules” and His actions are meant for our benefit and for His Kingdom.  He wants us to learn from the hard times and the struggles, to be refined by them and to grow closer to Him through them.  He wants us to live for the eternal, not just the temporary. 
            We in America are far too comfortable.  We are too used to getting what we want, when we want.  We are used to easy access, immediate gratification, and frivolous luxuries.  So troubles hit us really hard.  They make us feel like something must be wrong with us or our faith or our understanding of God.  And they make us discontent with life. 
            I think, in general, discontentment happens when we live like God owes us something that He isn’t giving us.  When in reality, we owe Him everything we already have. 
            But we need to accept that the hard times are from God’s hands, too.  The trials are His way of refining us.  We need to let them drive us closer to Him, crying out to Him in our pain.  We need to let the Holy Spirit work through them as He digs into our hearts and pulls out fears and misconceptions and doubts that we have about ourselves, faith, life, and God.  And we need to keep doing this until we have a proper balance of God’s love and holiness (justness) – until we learn to find Him in the hard times and let Him be Lord of those, too - until we trust in God’s love and goodness so much that we can bear with any trial as long as we know that He is holding us.       
            If we are going to let God make the most out of our lives, we need to start living like we are the creation and He is the Creator.  We are the sheep and He is the Shepherd.  We are the redeemed and He is our Lord.  We are the children, and He is our good, loving Father.  And if we can remember Whose we are, as well as who we are - if we can remember that He is a huge, holy God, yet He loves us enough to give up His life for ours - we will find the sweet in the bitter.  And it will be good enough for us!