So today I’m skipping church to spend time with God. I used to think that God tamed the wild hearts as they matured. However, I am learning, as C.S. Lewis puts it: “He is not a tame lion.” God is crazy wild, and the closer I get to Him, the wilder my heart becomes. This inevitably causes those around me to question my sanity. That’s ok, because I follow God, not my spiritual mentors, my church or my friends. They all have their place and importance, but I find sometimes I get sucked into the reality that I can see and touch and feel, and I lose touch with the eternal reality of the soul. God’s voice becomes fainter and fainter as I hear all the other voices around me.
So I am learning how to use wisdom in how I manage this wild heart. However, I am trying to tune into God’s wisdom, and it might not make sense to those around me. For a person who has lived to please everybody else, this is a hard concept. I wind up disappointing the people whose support I want the most. However, whose support do I really desire? My family and friends or God? It’s all nice and rosy for the first part of the journey when it’s one and the same. Do I have the strength to stand against those I love in order to follow what I believe to be God’s will? Could I really leave behind some things that have become my comfort zone? I believe that maybe following God is a lot bigger and farther reaching than I had imagined it to be.
Today I put down one of my devotionals for good. I have felt this whole year it was saying the same thing over and over, and today I realized the source of my frustration. The devotional revolved around the idea that God is out for our best interests, and we need to trust through the hard times that He is in control. This statement is mostly true, but what we “westerners” sometimes lose sight of is this: IT IS NOT ABOUT US.
So what is this life about? We cling to verses like Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This verse is true, but that leads us to ask the question: What is the GOOD this verse is talking about? Reading Paul’s work is beneficial, but sometimes we read Paul more than we read Jesus’ words, mostly because Paul is a little easier to understand. Quite honestly, some of the stuff Jesus said really disturbs me.
Matthew chapter 10 puts me on edge. It makes me question the beautifully wrapped present of “Jesus loves me, so He died that I can live with Him forever.” I have often wondered why the message of Jesus’ love is so offensive to so many people, that they would go to the extreme of killing Christians just to shut them up. As I watched the Passion of the Christ yesterday, it started to become clear.
It’s about a whole ‘nother Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. They didn’t kill Jesus because He loved them. Most people appreciate it when someone loves them. They killed Him because He was establishing a new Kingdom and was attacking the one that was in power. The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law were at the center of Jesus’ criticism. The truth is sometimes hard to believe and accept, especially when it’s in direct opposition to the truth you have chosen to believe and follow.
However, it was not a battle between Jesus and the Pharisees. It was a battle between God and Satan, good and evil. There is so much going on in the world behind the scenes. Things aren’t always as they seem to be, and although we want to ignore the forces at work around us, to be a part of the Kingdom of God requires us to be armed and ready for battle. The weapons of God are necessary, because whether we want to believe it or not, we are standing on the battlefield and war is raging around us.
You see, Jesus didn’t come to die for us just to make us feel good. He came to pay the penalty for us choosing to be a part of the kingdom of sin. Everyone who has ever lived has made a decision against God’s Kingdom and has been a part of the other. Jesus was the only man who had never chosen to join the kingdom of the world, so His sacrifice and victory through His resurrection gives us the opportunity to come back to the Kingdom that we were created to be a part of. He wants to restore what was broken. So the battle begins.
The lies of Satan vary with each one of us, but they are very real and threaten to consume our lives. He wants to render us powerless. If he can disconnect us from our purpose and the image of God in which we were made, then he has won the victory in our lives. God, however, tells us we are made for so much more. In our weakness before Him, He makes us strong and fit for battle in His Kingdom until all things are made right someday. The battle is eternally important because many of the people we see every day are buying into the lies of Satan and are held captive by him. God has called and is conditioning us to be agents of His Kingdom and His Spirit.
So why did I question the word GOOD in Romans 8:28? Well, I am discovering that we are not the best judges of what is GOOD for us. We think of being healthy or safe or rich as GOOD things, but God isn’t about OUR purposes. Romans 8:28 says that we are called according to HIS purpose. Matthew 10:24-25a says, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” We need to understand that we serve God, not the other way around.
What is GOOD for us is to be one in Spirit with God, to be like our Teacher and Master. He created us for a purpose, and it is GOOD for us to carry out that purpose in every way. It is all about the KINGDOM OF GOD. It is about HIS glory. It is about HIM. When we truly grasp what this is about, well “Goodbye Ordinary” as MercyMe would say. We are in for a ride.
So as you consider whether you will be a part of the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of the world, count the cost. When you follow God, it WILL cost you everything. It may even cost you your life, which may not seem very GOOD. I have the best news for you though: Jesus says in Matthew 10:39: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Choosing the kingdom of the world will also cost you everything, but it will cost you an eternity of the GOOD that God is offering you. There is no neutral team. It is one or the other. Therefore, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15b,d