Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Balancing Act

Last year I struggled to find middle ground between two extreme ideas: either faith relied solely on our ability to believe or it weighed exclusively on God's will to help. This week I've found another set of extremes between twixt there must be some balance. One camp says we're so special, just look at how much God loves us. Another camp says it's not about us, it's about Him. My dad first pointed me to these ideals in a book titled "Cat and Dog Theology."

Let's take the first camp and see where it leads. If God's love toward us is proof of our special status, then we can assume He would do anything we ask. There are several verses that support this theory. "Ask and it shall be given unto you." "All who ask receive." "our Father will give good gifts to His children." etc., etc., etc. So here's the conclusion: God loves us and wants nothing more than to bless us and to see us happy.

Ok, let's explore camp B. If it isn't about us, but God, then all of existence should be about seeing God glorified. This may require us to sacrifice our happiness, comfort and dreams if it'll bring Him glory. We should not complain about the tribulations we encounter because all things, whether good or bad, are part of the plan for God to be lifted high. Nor should we question His motives if all His promises seem to fail and we feel abandoned. So here's the conclusion: we're worthless, He is worthy, and we are blessed simply to be alive.

Seems as though there should be a way to believe God is all loving and merciful, but also to believe that life isn't about our happiness but about His glory. Thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's good to know that people struggle with real spiritual issues and especially with the character and/or person of God. Really it seems that it's not about blessing and God wants to bless or it's about glory. I think it's about both and I don't necessarily see a paradox or two opposing ideas.
What I have found helpful is we tend to define what "blessing" looks like. For example most of us have heard, "you are so blessed. You have a nice home, sweet children, a good church, etc. etc." I don't know that I have ever heard anyone say,"you are so blessed, because you have kids who act out, you simply have a roof over your head and shoes on your feet,your church is tiny, the music stinks but your pastor is a godly man." The problem I have is how we define what it means to be blessed.
Let's take David for example. He was the least likely of his brothers to be chosen to lead Israel. He was a shepherd--an isolated, lonely job. His job was to take food to his brothers who were fighting in battle. But he was blessed with a great faith. I believe that faith itself is a blessing and that it turbocharges our spiritual gift(s), and what we believe God for. David sinned greatly and worked hard to cover his sin by committing an even more horrible sin. Late in life he is fleeing from his own son who wants to kill him and God says about David, "he was a man after God's own heart." The bible says that he, David, "led Israel with skilled hands and a servant's heart." I'd say, David was blessed. Would most people say that? Probably. They would probably say he was blessed at one point in his life but not at other points. I would suggest that God doesn't look at life as we do. Because of our desire for good, healty relationships, a nice home, a decent car and clothes to wear, I think the desire for comfort causes us to miss the blessings of God because they don't look like blessings to us. In the midst of despair and with no one to turn to but his three insensitive, but well meaning friends, would Job have said, I'm a blessed man? I don't think so. But does that mean that he wasn't blessed? I don't think so. I think Job was imensely blessed because I can't think of another human being about whom God would say, "I trust this person with my own reputation." That is no other human being other than those of us who have been "blessed" to have had a personal encounter with Jesus. Because he says the same thing to us that he said to Job. "I trust you_________Brittany or fill in the blank, with my reputation. How about God blesses his people so that those who are not yet his people might bless him.
God's not out to make us comfortable or uncomfortable. He desires to be the focal point of our lives and the lives of not yet believers. He blesses us so we can point people to him. Some people may only see him in us when we are dealing with a loss, without clothes on our backs, letting go of all we have to serve him. Does that mean we have to be un blessed for others to be blessed and to give glory to God? I don't think so. I think one of the greatest blessings as a follower of Jesus is to see other not yet followers become followers due to how I respond to whatever life may bring me.
For me it's not a question of either or but rather its a matter of we're always blessed we just may not "feel" blessed at the moment because God is working in and through us to draw someone to himself and that may not look or feel like a blessing yet but like Job, it will in the end.
I believe we are at our best as followers of Jesus when we live life with the end in mind, "keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." He was with us when the race of life began, when the stresses of life and the burdens of life push us down and he ran/runs with us and he'll be standing at the finish line with his arms wide open to receive us.
Will I/we always feel blessed? Probably not. But, because of the character of God, we'll always be blessed.