Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Measuring up.

For those of you who follow my blog (and I really appreciate both of you, really, I do), you may have noticed that I just haven't been in the mood lately. For lots of reasons, writing and creativity have not been flowing. Part of that though is just not taking the time. Today, I got the itch so here's the scratch...

There seems to be a unique process for those of us who grew up in church and a Christian home. Well meaning folk (Sunday School teachers, preachers, etc.) all my life have given me a few unworthy God concepts to work out (lots of good ones too). I specifically recall one Sunday school teacher talking to me and my 7 or so peers in our junior high boys class about God not approving of being funny or telling jokes as it is "idle talk". He told us how one day, we will stand before God and give an account for every silly thing we said. Whoa!

On our resent church leaders retreat, we talked a little about our different views of a common debate between denominations. Are you "once saved always saved" or can you "lose your salvation"? This question can be quite a hot button and really, I'm not trying to start a debate here about it. But during the discussion, I had a little personal revelation. When pressed to give an answer on where I fall, my only answer could be, "This is the wrong question."

For one, this is a doctrine that scripture does not ask me to have a position on. Scripture assumes that I am walking with God in relationship (I mean, I'm reading aren't I?). There are stories that warn me of the dangers of getting off track, there are stories of restoration and God's power. And in all of it, it is a huge story of how big God is, how small I am, and how trustworthy He is. And that God is, at his very essence, Love. And that there is no fear in love. So if I am at the point of asking the question whether my salvation is secure, then I'm probably doing ok. Like, if you're worried you've committed the unforgivable sin, you probably haven't. Because if you have, you wouldn't care.

So I do not have to fear admitting that I, in relationship with God, have a little something to do in that relationship. "'Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness' and he was called God's friend" (James 2:23). God loves when I reach out to him in freedom and contribute to our relationship. He responds to me! Li'l 'ol me!

And in that, I do not have to fear admitting that I am secure in him. He is so much bigger than me and I do not have to fear that a misstep will turn all heaven against me and doom my mortal soul. I do not have to fear that I am so all important that I can fall off the salvation wagon so easily.

I have a daughter and one day she will probably be so mad at me that in a fit of emotion says "I hate you!" But I'm her Dad and while it may sting a bit, I really know the score. I'll know that she is my daughter and that she really loves me but doesn't see things so clearly right now. I will know to be patient and wait for her to come around. My daughter and her thoughts and feelings are important in our relationship, but mine are more important. I'm the Dad. In a much bigger way, God is the Dad and what he knows is way more important than my limited perspective.

It seems that so much of Christian culture is based in fear...fear that we are not doing enough, not learning enough, not reaching enough, not "right" enough...never enough. And while there is an element of discipline, pressing in and stretching in our walk, it can never be because of fear. These things grow out of love...pressing in to God because we are in love with him. No lover ever has to be guiltily convinced to spend time with the beloved. In love, there is no end of things to talk about, experience together and learn of one another.

So, not in love? That's ok, you might be afraid of God. He can handle that. But get beyond your fear and start a relationship with him. Relationships are dynamic. They start slow, maybe a little awkward at first, then friendship grows with shared time and interests, then intimacy develops and before you know it, love is in full bloom. There is no fear there.

It is dynamic, you both have a part to play.

It is secure, God is big and his love is enough.

"One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt 22:35-38)

Loving, thoughtful discussion is welcomed in the comments. If you have questions and would like to correspond, email me...cwhitler@gmail.com


Sustar said...

God is Love, and Love is God...
and He's invincible.

Your Friend Aaron said...

Everybody's so stupid! I'm arguing! Rar!

frigmeat said...

WOW. I'm always rewarded when I check back in on your blog, even after bouts of inactivity.

Amazing post, Chris.

Bethany said...

Hey Chris, I know I'm coming into this post very late...but wow! Great post, exactly how I feel! I listen to the radio while I work and from 3-4 there's a couple of pastors on Christian radio who answer questions from callers for the hour. I don't always agree with what they say but anytime anyone calls and the question pertains to 'blaspheming the holy spirit' or anything like that they normally comment that if you're worried about it or care then you are probably okay.

I appreciate your perspective on the 'calvinist/armenian' debate.