I had an interesting conversation with my rock star wife this morning. We were comparing how Jesus asks us to be dependent on Him for everything compared with how the world says we should be dependent on ourselves. I had a conversation a while ago with someone who had pulled himself out of very tough family circumstances as a kid, put himself through college and grad school, started his own business and is now super successful. This guy flat out told me, "What do I need God for?" Hmmm. Good question.
To this person, God must look like a vending machine. Why would anyone want to put their money into the machine when they already have everything that they think the machine offers? Life is to consume and enjoy....right?. If Person "A" is already doing that to the fullest, what do they need God for? It's as if the goal in life is to insulate ourselves to the point where whatever harm may come our way, WE can take care of it. The economy tanks, no problem, that's why I've worked so hard on my bank account. I get sick, no problem, that's why I have the best medical insurance money can buy. My wife doesn't make me happy anymore, no problem, that's why I've surrounded myself with some close girlfriends. My kids are annoying, no problem, I've got millions of ways to keep them occupied. Oh, and if I start feeling a little guilty about all of this, no problem, there are more social programs I can donate to than there are stars in the sky (plus, its a nice right-off). And on and on.
This all reminds me of something I heard James MacDonald say. "You should live in such a way that if God were not real, you would fall flat on your face." I love that. Its so.....New Testament. Picture the disciples in Acts after Jesus had been crucified, resurrected and ascended back to Heaven. All that seemed to be left to show for their Messiah's time on earth was a measly 120 people. They hunker down in the upper room and cry out to God. What are they going to do? The only thing that they had, the one thing they put EVERYTHING into, just went up in the clouds. If the God that they cried out to was not faithful, they would be dead in the water (literally). And then Acts 2 happens:
"...Suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit as the Spirit was giving them utterance." (Acts 2:2-4)
God showed up in a way that He had promised He would. The passage goes on to say that Peter stood up and, filled with the Holy Spirit of God, preached. That tiny pack of 120 people increased to over 3,000 that day. "The LORD was adding to their number day by day" (Acts 2:47). GOD was providing. GOD was their refuge and their strength. GOD was their comfort. GOD was their plan A, B, and Z. And the world was turned upside down because of it. A rag-tag band of low class fishermen changed the world forever. Why? Because they went "all in" when Jesus said "come, follow me". And because of this, they became the hands and feet for Him. It became so absolutely clear that God was leading and they were following that the world could not deny the power of God in His people.
I had to ask myself this morning after my conversation with Lindsey, "are we as Christians any different from the guy looking at God as a vending machine?" Just because we claim the saving grace of God in our lives does not exempt us from our flesh roaring its ugly head up. Its hard not to set your desires on something and cry out to God to deliver. He wants to give us the desires of our heart, right? I'm border-line beginning to rant on a whole 'nother topic, so I'll reign it in. The point I want to make, though, is one that I heard Voddie Baucham make. The first thing we do when we want something is run around and find 129 other people to pray with us. Then, when we've prayed for a couple days, and 129 other people have prayed with us, and we still don't have that thing that we want, we look to God and say, "God, what's going on? I put my money in and pushed A-12 and that thing I wanted didn't come out." Does this make us any different than the guy asking, "what do I need Jesus for?"
Psalm 127 should help wrap things up.
"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep." (Psalm 127:1-2)
Come on. Seriously? How can you not read that and just absolutely want to run around the house screaming for joy! The God of the universe, the one who created all of heaven and earth, the one who holds time and life in His hand, that same God is PROMISING to care for His beloved. Read the book, it is filled with ironclad promises that He will not "leave us or forsake us" (Joshua 1:5), He is a "refuge in the time of trouble" (Psalm 9:9), He will hold out His right hand and say, "fear not, I will help you" (Isaiah 41:13), He will feed His flock and "cause them to lie down" (Ezekiel 34:15), He will not leave us as orphans but will come to us (John 14:18), He will guide us "into all truth" (John 16:13), He will answer us "from His holy heaven, with the saving strength of His right hand" (Psalm 20:6). But, I would argue, these ironclad promises are spoken to those crazy "all in" types. And, just for clarification and full disclosure, there are also ironclad promises that use words like "suffering" (just check out 2 Timothy). All in? You bet.
So what do we need God for? The answer is EVERYTHING. The storm will come, either in the form of an insurmountable situation or in the form of judgement. Either way, the storm will come. Walls that we build to protect us will fall. And when they do, only the one true God of the universe can save us. And that salvation only comes through His son Jesus Christ, who died to pay the penalty for our sin. Go "all in". Don't settle for just enough God to get by. Do you see the same power in your life that Jesus promised would fill us in Acts 1:8? Or is that power sitting in the 401k right now being diversified?
"Some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord, our God." (Psalm 20:7)
...Of All Nations Project
The "Of All Nations Project" is a small effort to proclaim, in Jesus' name, the most important thing that has ever happened in the history of all history ... that the grace of God has appeared. As Christians, we are charged with making disciples "of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Truly, to be sent by the God of all creation is to be blessed.
God's grace has appeared...go tell someone
God's grace has appeared...go tell someone