Sunday, October 25, 2015

Why We Ought to Believe Every Word

Like children who have never missed a meal, who go to bed safe and warm each night, and who are surrounded by the loving reassurances of their parents, when things get tough, we can still have trouble believing that God really will provide for our needs. But here's the amazing thing—the Bible never says God will merely provide for our needs. It says, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9 MEV).

But let's take a step back. Before we approach those things that we can't even imagine, let's consider some of the things God's Word tells us plainly. When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He announced, in part, "He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19 NASB). But do we really believe that? Sure, on some level, most of us would say yes. But then why do so many Christians feel captive, oppressed, or that the Lord is angry with them?

And what about what Jesus told His disciples, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12 ESV). Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, turned water into wine, and walked on water, among other things. But how many of us believe that we will do greater things than these?

I ask this not in a spirit of accusation or condemnation but instead recognize that if I'm pointing a finger, there are three pointing back at me. And I wonder if those who have been chastised for not believing the Bible—for not really believing what it says about homosexual practice, adultery, abortion, etc.—would pay attention to the prophetic voice of the church if we truly believed every word. I wonder if they would feel loved if we believed every word—really believed every word—that God has spoken. We would be people of shalom—people who know their Dad has everything taken care of, living as our Creator intended, free to love and not to worry.

Have we missed something? In our efforts to be relevant, accessible, and consumer-friendly, have we lost sight of what Abraham knew—what Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, and every lover of God down through history has known? There can be no greater goal than to know God intimately, to experience more of Him with each passing day. In the early church, there was no shortage of persecution, no limit to the cost many believers paid for their faith, but men and women were drawn to Christ because they saw His Spirit alive and active in the church. These early Christians did the things Christ did—they healed the sick (Acts 3:1-10; 5:12-16), raised the dead (Acts 9:40; 20:7-12), and spoke words of prophecy (Acts 11:27-30; 19:6), among other miracles, signs, and wonders. And lest you think these experiences were limited to the apostles and their close friends, try to make sense of 1 Corinthians 12–14, which describes the gifts of average Gentile Christians.

The Bible is clear: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). God has not changed. It is we who have moved, who have stepped out of sync with His Spirit.

But maybe this is our moment—our opportunity—to put aside everything else and seek His face. In setting aside our traditions, our denominations, our secondary doctrines, I don't mean we should toss those things in the trash. Rather, what if we just put them down for a divine moment in order to look to Him unhindered, that we might believe every word He has already spoken in the Bible and every word He wants to speak to our hearts? What if we became people who truly humbled ourselves and sought his face (2 Chronicles 7:14)?

What if the Christian life is not merely about sinning less but about loving God more? What if in our attempts to seek His kingdom—some through holiness, some through social justice, and others through evangelism—we've missed the forest for the trees? What if all those trees—good and right and proper as they are—will never bring the shalom we need?

What if seeking more of God is the way to seek His kingdom?

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