When Saul saw how successful (David) was, he was afraid of him. 1 Sam 18:15
A good indication of godlessness is the fear of someone else’s success. In Saul’s case it is double blindness. All of David’s accomplishments could have belonged to King Saul. A hand clenched in pride is not open to received any honor. Successful leadership makes room for others to succeed and allows the warmth and sunshine of individual accomplishment to heat and light the whole organization.
Being still is not the same thing as staying still. Although the central imagery associated with God is a king seated on a throne – the world He created to reveal Himself is a perpetual motion machine. Nothing in the universe is still. Earth spins, planets orbit, stars and galaxies expand. God is seated and He never ceases to move. Our feet are planted yet we move without ceasing. “Be still and know I am God,” the Creator says to us. Be at rest, relax in the knowledge that I AM, and in knowing this: Create. Run. Laugh. Love. Be still and be full of movement like a spiritual gyroscope – gyroscopes are simply wheels spinning around a common axis which will always come back to their center line after they’ve been disturbed. They are great for navigation because they are consistent in their orientation. Maintain your orientation toward God, be still AND move. Not only will you stay on course, others will be able to find their way through you.
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” … On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matthew 2: 2 & 11)
People who don’t have any Christian context come to Jesus from a different direction, with a different means of navigation, and with a different way of worshipping Him. Jesus is not just the God of Christians, He is God of the east, God of the stars, and God of those who earnestly seek Him.
There is a battle for the heart of any church. The church exists for the mission. It is born within an apostolic context; born on it’s feet moving out into the world with the message of Christ.
It isn’t a place to find security for your children.
It isn’t here to lend legitimacy to your social status.
It doesn’t exist to bless your marriage or to mourn over your death.
It is not here to educate you into a deeper spirituality.
It isn’t designed to be your support group.
It isn’t your holy hideout.
The church does not exist to enrich the lives of Christians, the church exists to enrich the life of the world.
Evidently police don’t like being video taped while doing their jobs. This story out of Lancaster, PA is just one of many I’ve seen in the past few years. I get it. I don’t particularly like the idea of being video taped while I’m doing my job. How hard would it be to account for every moment? Every act? I know some Christians think it is somehow useful to think of themselves as being watched by God at all times so they will behave or not misbehave or whatever. I’m not sure I want to live that way. I’d rather think about God watching my like I watch my children playing. After all the gospel is the end of the law for those who believe. I’m not trying to draw within the lines so that God keeps smiling am I? I want to play like a guy that God showed his full love towards on the cross. He is pleased with me. Go ahead and video me. Its all good.
A story from China: a workman carried two pots down to the river to fetch water each day. One was a fine pot, well made and sturdy, the other pot was old and full of cracks. After many years of use the cracked pot cried out to its master. “Master, please crush me and throw me onto the trash heap! I am no good to you. Every day you carry me to the river and fill me with water, and by the time we get back home I am empty. I am a truly useless pot!”
The master smiled and said to the pot, “But you are my favorite pot. You are most useful to me. Look along the pathway to the river and see all of the beautiful flowers. I planted those flowers and I love them. They make my walk pleasant. Each time we walk to the river to get water, you water my flowers as we come home. I chose you because of your cracks!”
Don’t despise the way you were made. The gospel assures us there is nothing about us beyond the reach of God’s redemption…even our cracks.
When a person receives an organ transplant, they must also go onto a regimen of drugs to keep their body from rejecting the new organ. The exact thing they need in order to have new and full life is attacked by their body. It is viewed as an invader. It is seen as a destroyer. We need the gospel but we see it this way. This is the tin soldier CS Lewis talks about in Mere Christianity:
Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it. What you have done about that tin soldier I do not know. But what God did about us was this: The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself… And because the whole difficulty for us is that the natural life has to be, in a sense, “killed,” He chose an earthly career which involved the killing of His human desires at every turn – poverty, misunderstanding from His own family, betrayal by one of His intimate friends, being jeered at and manhandled by the police, and execution by torture. And then, after being thus killed – killed every day in a sense – the human creature in Him, because it was united to the divine Son, came to life again. The Man in Christ rose again: not only the God. That is the whole point, for the first time we saw a real man. One tin soldier – real tin, just like the rest – had come fully and splendidly alive.
If you want to learn to pray the first thing you should do is pray. The Christian story of the world is clear: God is fully invested in knowing us and talking to us before we ever think about talking to him. The gospel shows us how far God is willing to go to have a relationship with us. Conversations with God are not, cannot, be happening because we get in the right posture or say the perfect words or perform enough deeds. Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, wrote one of the best books on prayer: Answering God. The premise of the book is that God always speaks first and we are always answering him. Peterson uses the metaphor of teaching babies to talk. Parents lean over the crib and speak incomprehensible words to an infant and this is how the infant learns to make sounds and eventually words. The best thing we can do in prayer is remember we are infants. Stop trying to make prayers that seem “well done.” Make sounds to God. Cry out. Ask for needs to be met. Laugh upwards in joy. Reach for Help.
I do not suppose that Daniel knew how God would deliver him out of the den of lions. I do not suppose that Joseph knew how he would be delivered out of prison when his master’s wife had slandered his character so shamefully. I do not suppose that these ancient believers even dreamed of the way of the Lord’s deliverance. They just left themselves in God’s hands. They rested on God, and He delivered them in the best possible manner. He will do the same for you. Simply call upon Him, and then “stand still and see the salvation of the LORD” (Exodus 14:13)