Chris­tians, Pay At­ten­tion

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - OPINION - Gene Linzey GENE LINZEY IS A SPEAKER, AU­THOR, MEN­TOR AND PRES­I­DENT OF THE SILOAM SPRINGS WRIT­ERS GUILD. SEND COM­MENTS AND QUES­TIONS TO MAS­TERS.SER­VANT@COX.NET. THE OPIN­IONS EX­PRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AU­THOR.

It ap­pears to me that many in the Chris­tian Church have cor­rupted their un­der­stand­ing of their po­si­tion in Christ or with Christ. More and more peo­ple imag­ine that Christ ex­ists for our sake; that He came to earth to bless us and give us a won­der­ful life; that the riches and au­thor­ity of the world be­long to us — or should be­long to us. Many folk have been taught that we can even tell God what we want and out of His love for us He will grant our de­sire.

When I worked for an au­to­mo­bile deal­er­ship in Tulsa in 1980, a well-known pas­tor came to me and told me he wanted a Cadil­lac. He spec­i­fied all the de­tails, how much he would pay for it, and wanted me to or­der it so I could “get in on the bless­ing.” When I said I could get it for him but that it would cost him ap­prox­i­mately $8,000 more, he laughed and said, “I told Je­sus what I want, and be­cause of my faith, I’ll get it.” Walk­ing away, he said he would of­fer the bless­ing to some­one else.

About three weeks later he drove back to see me — in a new Cadil­lac. As he was brag­ging about it, I pointed out sev­eral ma­jor de­tails that con­flicted with the item­ized list he handed to God. He said, “Well, I got most of it.” But when I asked him how much he paid for it, he mut­tered some­thing like, “it was sev­eral thou­sand more than I wanted to pay” and quickly drove away.

This man had prob­a­bly been lis­ten­ing to a song from a well-known writer that in­cluded the words: “Say it, be­lieve it, re­ceive it, tell Je­sus.” But that the­ol­ogy is to­tally back­wards and is an af­front to God. That is de­cid­ing what we want, con­vinc­ing our­selves it is right to have, claim­ing it as ours, then — THEN — telling Je­sus about it. This is wrong.

The truth is: Christ does not ex­ist for us; we ex­ist for the sake of Christ. We have no busi­ness item­iz­ing our de­mands, then hand­ing them to God as though He was wait­ing on our ta­ble at the lo­cal restau­rant.

Yes, Je­sus came to earth as a baby, born of a vir­gin, lived a sin­less life, was cru­ci­fied, died, and buried. He arose back to life on the third day and spent the next 40 days walk­ing among men min­is­ter­ing to them, prov­ing He was alive — and prov­ing His di­vin­ity. He came to earth in or­der to re­move the breach be­tween man and God that was placed there when Adam sinned. But, although Je­sus taught us to be ser­vants to each other, Almighty God is not our ser­vant.

In the late 1890s, the the the­olo­gian/politi­cian/scholar Abra­ham Kuyper (Abra­ham Kui­jper) said, “We Chris­tians reg­u­larly fail to ac­knowl­edge our true place in cre­ation. We aren’t just God’s cre­ation; we are God’s pos­ses­sion.” I agree. We need to un­der­stand that the book of Job clar­i­fies that no one tells God what to do.

Yes, we need to re­mem­ber James 4:2-3 which says, “And yet the rea­son you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it be­cause your whole mo­tive is wrong — you want only what will give you plea­sure. (GNT)” What it does not say is that some­times we “ask God” for some­thing, but then we by­pass God and ap­pro­pri­ate it with hu­man ef­forts. That is not trust­ing God. Rather, that is works of the flesh, and Scrip­ture has a strong ad­mo­ni­tion against that.

Re­flect­ing on Kuyper’s thought, what IS our place in cre­ation?

I think it is summed up quite suc­cinctly in Je­sus’ words in John 4:34, “My meat (sus­te­nance) is to do the will of him that sent me, and to fin­ish his work.”

God didn’t or­dain that we be­come cru­ci­fied; but in­di­vid­u­ally, our job is to dis­cover what God wants of us, and do it. God’s will in­cludes a vocation of some kind/ but specif­i­cally, it is to honor Him in every­thing we do in life.

Our place in cre­ation is not to tell God what we want. Rather, it is to dis­cover what God wants of us, and obey.

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