Wednesday, November 18, 2015

God works with the real you

Our unfaithfulness to God (unfaithfulness being a lack of trust in God displayed by a lack of diligence pursuit of God, which is the essence of sin) is often the only way we come to appreciate the value and importance of faithfulness. If we have *experienced the love of God to any significant degree, unfaithfulness leaves us with a sense of isolation and separation from God and wanting him back.

Though unfaithfulness definitely causes separation, it is not on God's side, but on ours. As God's children he never leaves us and is always working in our unfaithfulness as well as our faithfulness. He in fact uses that sense of separation (along with other consequences) to draw (call) us back to himself.

In this sense we can relax (knowing he's using even our unfaithfulness ultimately for our good and his glory) and not be concerned about our unfaithfulness in this sense. If this is who we are, it is who we should be i.e. we should not pretend to be something we are not because we think somehow we are fooling God (or ourselves) into thinking we are someone other than we really are OR because we think we will somehow impress God with some feigned faithfulness. We simply need to be; we need to be our honest, real and true selves so we can best learn from those hidden areas of brokenness and distrust in God. God uses our mistakes. And maybe the most critical point is we can not turn from something we deny exists or aren't aware of.

Does this mean we are to deliberately indulge in unfaithfulness so that we will learn? No, it simply means we are who we are and will be who we will be and need to be honest with who we are in order to truly change. Pretending doesn't promote honesty and without honestly there is no true change. A performance based approach to God verse a grace based approved prevents us from seeing our true state of unbelief/unfaithfulness.

We need to recognize God works with us where we are and uses all things (including who we are in all our distrust and brokenness) to advance His good purpose in us. We need to allow God to show us who we truly are in our unfaithfulness so we see the real us, in all our brokenness that we might truly turn from it. If we don't see, experience and feel our true brokenness and the emptiness of our unfaithfulness, we will never sincerely turn. We may make some external changes, but this is not a true change of heart empowered by God's Spirit/grace. Any change not Spirit/grace driven is superficial and **performance oriented.

**by performance I mean acting in order to impress either God or others.

On the other side of this, we should also be aware that unfaithfulness always has consequences. Not only does it cause us to lose a sense of God's presence, it results in harm to others and ourselves (not to mention it dishonors God). So for these reasons we should always be alert and seek to become more aware of our unfaithfulness and more diligent in our faithful pursuit of God. But again, this is who we are and we should not beat ourselves up over this. Christ already took our beating. The consequences of our unfaithfulness in themselves actually becomes a vital means of our seeing the need to abandon it.

When we come to the place that we clearly and honestly see the importance and value of faithfulness we will not depart from it. It will be our real, conscious and deliberate pursuit of God, not some pretense of pursuing him.

And when we do, it too will be who we really are.

*If you don't experience that sense of loss in your unfaithfulness, you may have never experienced anything significant enough to feel a loss to begin with i.e. you can't miss what you never had.

However I would also argue we all experience a sense of loss of God, whether we are his children or not, we just don't know it's God we are missing.  All we know is we long for love and when we experience it we want more; the more love we experience the more we long for more of it.  

The reason we want more is because God is more than anything we can experience through the things and relationship of this life. Whatever little tastes of love we experience in this world can never be enough because we were designed for eternal, infinite love, not temporal finite love. Only infinite, eternal love can fulfill that infinite eternal desire for love build into all of us as God's image bearers. 

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Grace to you
Jim Deal