Thursday, December 23, 2010

On Broken Reeds

What do we trust in to do the work of God?  Do we trust in our organizational abilities, our programs, our marketing techniques, our hard work?  In short, do we trust in ourselves?  Do we feel, if we just get our act together we will be able to accomplish God's work on earth?  Or perhaps we feel this is putting too much pressure on people and might make them into burnt-out workaholics.  So we teach them pop psychology and encourage them to feel good about themselves and to develop community so they will positively reinforce one another.  But in all of this we can marginalize any direct involvement of God. We are like the Israelites, who went to Egypt for help rather than trusting in God (Isaiah 31:1; Psalms 118:8,9; 147:10,11).  Now I do not want to give the impression we should not use diligence to do our work well. (It is beyond the scope of this post to deal with all the techniques mentioned here.  Some have value in their place.)  But the issue is, What are you trusting in?

Or we can turn away from this to a more spiritual approach.  We can turn to prayer, fasting, and Bible reading.  We can emphasize worship, the ordinances, and the gathering of Christians together.  We can emphasize true doctrine and correct practice over methodology.  If this seems  too legalistic, we can turn to trusting in the Holy Spirit to do a work in our lives and even to work miracles.  While these are generally good things and help put our focus back on God, the emphasis is still on what we do.  They focus on us, rather than on God.

But the real emphasis in Scripture is not on what we do, but on what God has done. God became a man in order to pay the entire price for sin (Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Peter 2:24,25).  He overcame sin and death and Satan and his demons and made the declaration, "It is finished" (John 19:30).  He saves us based on our faith in His work--which is itself a gift from Him (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; John 6:44)--and when we have faith, He sends His Spirit (who is also God) into our lives to change us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:29; Philippians 2:13).  He then works through us (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:4,5; Zechariah 4:6) to accomplish His purposes in the world (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7; Psalms 127:1,2).  Further, He is going to see to it we reach our destination, which is conformity to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-30; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:1-3). Now I do not want to deny that we need to respond in obedience based on what God is doing in our lives (Titus 2:11-14; Galatians 5:13; Romans 6:12-14).  But this does mean we need to recognize that He has already won the victory (Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57) and we are simply to live in light of that.

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