Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God, You Are So Mean!

So my friends, how are you seeing the world this morning? Perspective is a powerful thing in our lives, in what we do and how we respond to things. When we are strong in our relationship with Jesus we are able to see things from God's perspective and are better equipped to have a positive response to things. So then the opposite is also true; when we are at a distance from Jesus we see things from a more self-centered perspective and things are not so positive. This is what we are being told in Hebrews 12 when it comes to some of the hardships we face:

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. (Hebrews 12:7-10)

With this perspective it is as if we should rejoice as we face these things that hurt as they shape us and change our character. Maybe rejoice is a bit much for us right now but we should at least be able to understand and appreciate what we are going through. It is encouraging to know that it has a purpose and that purpose is for our benefit. It is also encouraging to know that God allows us to face these things because they strip from us what is not profiting us. Sometimes God's discipline is required for us to let go of what is harmful to our eternity. Such things can be unhealthy relationships, terrible habits, ideas, even perspectives. Sometimes God's discipline can be in the form of a tragedy that opens our eyes to situations and attitudes that displease God. Many people find it hard to accept such a notion, that God would allow these things out of love but the truth is found in many verses and examples in the Word, one of which is:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Of course this is hard to accept when you are spiritually immature because the immature see these things as being unfair and even vengeful. It is amazing how many people see the disciplining of a child as a vengeful act of the parent. Yet we all know the truth is that any child who grows without discipline becomes a horribly self-centered child who takes more from society than contributes. This is what our Father is trying to avoid with us. He wants us to grow, to mature, to contribute to the mission instead of constantly taking away from it. Yet many of us continue to kick back at God and resist his discipline. We blame him for the many things we face and fail to see how he is trying to use these things for our good. He is doing this so that we may share in all his riches and may receive everything he has set aside for us. I am not saying it is easy. Even the writer of Hebrews admits it is not easy:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

That is the point. It is unpleasant in the midst of it but if we keep our eyes on the goal and purpose of it we will be able to maintain a positive perspective. As I write this my thoughts are drawn again to that verse that always astounds me as Paul wrote from his very positive perspective:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

A few of us chuckle over Paul's use of "light and momentary" but that is how our troubles and hardships are best described. In the perspective of eternity they are nothing more than a bump in the road but in the moment that bump has great value. Time and again the Word instructs us to stop looking at ourself and our difficulties. We are suppose to have an eternal perspective, focused on what is above not at what is at hand. Again we hear from Paul:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Your perspective makes all the difference and you gain a right perspective with a greater understanding of the Word and thus the Father's heart. I realize it is hard to change our perspective in the midst of hardships and difficulties but if that is where you are today I encourage you to ask the Spirit to give you the proper perspective today. Rejoice my friends, our Father is making something beautiful out of you. 

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I remember once when my daughter was young, I was disciplining her and she was telling me how mean I was. I said something to the effect of, "Well then, maybe I will stop disciplining you and you can behave however you want." and she yelled, "Nooooooo!" and ran into my arms.

Even a young child can see that having someone care about them enough to help them behave the way they want to is a good thing. I think with children, even God's adult children, when we are doing/thinking/being something she shouldn't be and no one addresses it, we tend to escalate the behaviour. With children, it is as if they are crying out, "Somebody stop me." I think it might be the same for us adults.

Praise our faithful Father God, that He is there to hear our call and intervene!

Thanks for another great blog entry, Pastor Paul.