Friday, November 6, 2015

Passion, trust and the glory of God... how they are connected?

Passion (i.e. longing/desire/emotions/affections) and trust are closely connected.

By that I mean we want and long for most what we most believe is in our best interest. The more we believe the more passionately we go after (pursue) it. That belief at times is so great, our confidence so high, we know we will get what we desire. When we have this kind of faith it translates into strong and compelling affections. We are blessed when our passion for God is at such a level of emotion, it drives our actions/obedience to and for Him.

Acting for his glory first

However, at times, our emotions are nowhere to be found. We simply choose to act because we know by faith that what we are doing is for his glory. Sometimes the only thing we have to move us to action is knowing it is an action that honors/glorifies God. We rightly ascertain there is no immediate reward for us in acting. In fact this may involve actions resulting in just the opposite; actions that are dishonoring for and to us; actions that may likely cause us harm (not unlike when Christ took action i.e. his following through in going to the cross, after asking God in the Garden of Gethsemane to remove the "cup" of his impending harm/death).  

But we are told in scripture that we sometimes must die to live; die to our immediate gain in order to honor God, which results in our long term gain. For pressing into and experiencing God is ultimately our greatest reward/gain. To act is this way is clearly a greater act of faith, for there is no immediate or even long term earthly reward in doing so. This only offers a reward that comes after death. 

This was the characteristics of the saints listed at the end of Heb 11

All obedience is acting by faith

The key is how much do we believe/trust in God and whether the actions He calls us to are ultimately the best actions.

And what is the nature of our faith? It isn't in a particular outcome that WE bring about by our independent efforts but a belief that the direction HE calls us to and the results HE will bring about through them is the best possible outcome there is i.e. actions dependent on his leading and the results he provides/promises.

The greater our belief/faith/trust these things are so, the stronger and more driving our emotions will be i.e. the greater our desire, longing, motivation and confidence to act. Or as a friend commented in reading this, the more *inspired we are to act or in acting. 

*(foot note: the Greek word for "inspired" is θεόπνευστος or theopneustos
theh-op'-nyoo-stos and means: divinely breathed in: - given by inspiration of God. [Strongs Greek Dictionary]. 

If you break the word down it basically means "in spirited" or indwelt by the Spirit or breath of God. Breath that comes forth from the passion of God. The passionate love between the Father and Son that generates the Spirit of love).  For a further discussion on inspiration click here

Little awareness of why we desire what we do

In truth we often have no idea where our desires and longings to act come from. We simply know we want whatever it is we want.

But if we peel back the layers we will discover we want what we want because we believe (either from prior experience or the experience of others) it will give us what we most need and believe is best for us.

And what is we need that is best? In a word it's love. Usually it looks more like having what we want simply makes us feel good about ourselves. But why does it make us feel good? Because when we get what we seek we feel important, valued, we matter, have purpose and meaning etc... in a word, we are loved (granted it's only self love but self love is better than no love at all).

The problem is what we usually seek (i.e. which is anything but God) never actually gives us what we truly need. Why? Because what we really seek is to feel good about ourselves all the time, not just for the moment when we feel that temporary rush of getting what we are after. This is why we repeatedly keep going after whatever it is we believe will give us this. It only works for a short time so we must keep coming back for more.

What we really need is permanent, never changing, constant love (which makes perfect sense. If we were created to be loved by the Infinite, nothing less truly works).

But, guess what? Nothing in this world can give us this. Only the Source of eternal, never changing, constant (i.e. not dependent on or determined by what we do or don't do) love will do. Why? Because we were created for infinite, constant and permanent love, not temporary love.

Defining "best interest"

All action is action based on what we believe is in our best interest. However we must define "best interest."

There is our best immediate interest.

And

There is our best long term/eternal interest.

Sometimes God will call us to action that will have a more immediate benefit. These type actions are the easiest to take for they have the most immediate gratification which often creates greater excitement and emotion. When we are excited we are energized/inspired/passionate, making the action easier. 

However God often calls us to take action simply because it honors him and offers no immediate benefit. In fact it may result in immediate loss. This kind of action still has benefit to us, but only long term, and therefore far harder to carry out because this kind of action is more purely by faith i.e. in the belief it is in our best interest long term even if not short term. There is little to no short-term benefit.

As our faith grows we can experience emotion even in this kind of faith but only when our faith is strong enough. The stronger our faith the greater our emotions/inspiration will be, even in the absence of immediate gain or gratification.

My experience has been that as we mature God seeks action more and more based on faith in long term reward not immediate award. Why? Because he knows this requires greater faith. And greater faith causes us to press closer into Him and draw our strength from Him; who he is versus what he does for us in the moment. In other words our faith in the character of God moves us to action not in anticipation and excitement over immediate benefit.

Great trust requires great love

This kind of faith requires great love/passion for God which can only be sustained and flow out of great love from God (vs. excitement over immediate benefits). We cannot live by this kind of faith if we don't have total trust/confidence in God's infinite love for us.

We cannot experience this great love for us without a clear and great vision of the love demonstrated to us in Christ.

And that love is demonstrated most clearly and fully in the work of Christ on our behalf; his death burial and resurrection. The work by which he has secured for us a love from God that has nothing to do with what we do or don't do. This kind of faith exalts Christ and his work done on our behalf. The work that completely and infinitely restores us to the Fathers love.

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Rom 8:30-32  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?



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Grace to you
Jim Deal