Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Onion God

God is reading this. Maybe that sounds cocky, but I don't mean it that way. Let me tell you how I know.
A few posts back, I wrote about how God seems to iron out the imperfections in our musical worship team. The point of my post was about remembering the reason we are worshipping (not about OUR glory), and leaning on God to help us overcome our human imperfections in worship.
The VERY next worship team I attended after posting that article was very difficult for me. I couldn't seem to get ANYTHING right. It was as if God was saying: "So, Tom, you think you've got a grasp of how I work, do you? You've understood this aspect of me enough to post it on your blog, huh? Well guess what Tom, you haven't BEGUN to see how deep this issue can go. But since you're atuned to the topic, let me give you the opportunity to practice what you preach!"
When I shared this with the other members of the worship team, they informed me that God OFTEN works that way in their lives. That is, just when you think you've mastered something, and got it all figured out, our Maker leaps in to notch the whole struggle up, and lovingly remind us how far we've got to go in our spiritual development.
I was excited to learn from my fellow Christians (all of whom have been walking in Faith for longer than I have), that this experience is common. Here was a new revelation of how God works!
Of course, I could take this revelation, and foolishly think I'm getting close to figuring out God and his ways. How many times have I been reminded not to "put God in a box?"
No, if I've learned anything of our God's methods, it's that HE seems to abhore predictability. Sometimes I think (and I know I'm not alone in this thought) that God will deliberately move in the exact opposite way of how any human would do it - just to remind us of the immense gulf between His way... and our ways - between the Creator... and the creation.
As for me, I feel that God doubly blessed me. Not only did He pull me further in to learning to lean on him, he gave me a new clue as to how to listen to Him. Of course, He may use a completely different method tomorrow, but right now, I THINK I've learned to be on the lookout for what happens right after I think I understand something. When I think I've peeled off the last layer on the onion of understanding, He is ready to show me the deeper layers.
I'll tell you one thing, I'm going to be careful of what I decide to post on this blog! I might think I've got something to share, but the heavenly reader might be more concerned with the guy at the keyboard. Or maybe, He will touch a reader and the writer simultaneously. Tell me, fellow Christians, does God ever work on more than one level at once? Maybe the better question is: Does he ever not?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not only is that the way God works, but YOU too.

ken said...

thanks for reading my blog! i'm looking forward to sharing in your journey as well

Tom said...

Not sure what you mean, anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Just when you think you have mastered something - you yourself will draw in something to notch it up a bit. It's evolution - on any level you choose

Tom said...

Anonymous:
O.K., I can agree with that, to the extent that we ARE created in His image. However, I submit that God is aware of an infinite amount of levels (on any given topic/issue/area of development)that we are NOT currently privy to. So, as much as I might "evolve" on my own, He knows best how to push/pull me to those levels that only He is aware of. In a nutshell, He's God, and I am merely his creation.
This doesn't exempt us from self-improvement, but acknowledges that He has the "master plans." I believe that prayer is the most important road to listening for His blueprint, no?
Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

So, what does it mean "created in His image"?

Tom said...

Good question anonymous. You made me want to find out more about exactly what that means. I found this excellent website on that very topic:
http://injil.org/TWOR/05.html

The only thing I would add to their discussion is this: Not only were we created to love God, but in doing so, we find ultimate joy ourselves (both now and in eternity. I'll admit, I sometimes forget this, and feel like obeying and loving God is a chore, instead of a gift He has given me. However, the times when I just DO IT, I never fail to find that joy IS the no-fail byproduct of loving him.

Anonymous said...

ok, I can buy that, the soul of man in His image.
So what does that mean to you?

Tom said...

That God's love was/is so immense, it spilled over in to His creation of us. I think we were originally designed to commune with him, in such a way that we would "manage" our tasks the way He would. However, due to man's fall (original sin), we've horribly perverted these "God-like" qualities, and used them to our own, selfish ends.
Thankfully, Christ has come to redeem us. I believe that by accepting that redemption, we are not only "saved," but also empowered to - in our eternal state - begin to fulfill that original plan of managing affairs in a God-like fashion. The Bible tells us to become more like Christ, and that when we see Him in His full glory, we will in fact become like Him.
It's hard to imagine, while in THIS life, that I could ever become even remotely close to Christ-like. Yet, the Bible promises this for those who love him.
It is now He who lives in us, in a spiritual sense. I'm not sure how, but I believe that I will retain my own distinctive personality in eternity, and yet be perfect in every way. At that time, we will forever love, serve, and be astonished by God himself!
Meantime, until I die, continual prayer and study of the Bible are the tools I've got for becoming more like Christ. If one truly "is what they eat," then a steady diet of the bread of life (Christ's sacrifice and his WORD) are the most important nutrients we can absorb.
For me, this has been proven by experience. The more I do the two things mentioned above, the more "connected" I feel to God. Conversely (and sadly), the less I do these things, the less Jesus seems to make sense.
So, the more I deliberately focus on God, the easier it is to continue down the path of righteousness. One day, with my sin nature gone, it will no longer be a struggle. Oh what a Glorious day THAT will be!

Anonymous said...

And consider this, It may be sooner than you think. It just may not play out the way interpretations from the bible say.
It's about right relations, sharing and the change of society as we know it.
He (the Christ) will be here to usher in the New Age, but not to take man from the earth. We are not done here by a long shot!

Tom said...

Anonymous:
You said "It just may not play out the way interpretations from the bible say."
I disagree. It may not play out in the way any one INDIVIDUAL interprets the Bible, but it will DEFINATELY play out the way the Bible says. To believe otherwise risks either doubting that the Bible is the inspired word of God, or that God has made some mistake in spelling out how things will go.
Christ will usher in a new era called the millenium, right after the 7 year tribulation. As a pre-tribber, I believe in a literal rapture (taking not ALL MEN, but believers) from the Earth. I believe that this literal "rapture" will happen just prior to that 7-year period known as the "time of Jacob's trouble."
Because the millenium is, by definition, 1000 years, I agree with you that we're not done here by a longshot. However, anyone not "caught up" to be with Jesus before the tribulation starts is in for 7 years of frightening times on Earth.
Of course, my beliefs on how the end times play out could be wrong, but I base all my beliefs on the Bible. You use the term "New Age," and your comment suggests that man himself can usher in this "New Age?"
Correct me if I've misinterpreted your words. Typed communication can easily be read wrongly.
Are you, in fact, a Christian? That is, do you believe Christ died for our sins, and will come back to judge the living and the dead?

Anonymous said...

I honor your view, but do not share it so literally.
Yes I am Christian - in that I believe in The Christ. I believe Jesus taught man how to live, live free and wonderful lives. I believe that is why He was crucified. His teaching threatened. (yes all part of plan)

In that essence, He may have died for you - but He lived for me! It is the Resurection that is the story of Jesus. That is the Big Point - what that means!!

You, and most, believe in Seperatism. I do not. Jesus said "The Kingdom......is with you " Why not take that literally?
It puts more responsibilty on us, yet gives us far more credit.

I do not argue with you. I believe the Bible is God inspired, all is of God. I also know the recording technology of the day was less than accurate, man made mistakes, both then and now.

My point is not to detract from the Bible, or from anyone's beliefs. My call is to open man's heart to grander potentials.

I would ask this; Jesus was resurected over 2000 years ago. Why do you still crucify Him? I have no coss on my wall - I do have Jesus and His message in my heart.

I hear what you say, and you may be right. I feel that there is so much more to the life God has instilled in us than what the Bible allows.

Tom, I like that you do not quote scriptures to make your points. You speak from your convictions, and I admire that.

I just want to inspire deeper thought into the matter.

That we believe a little differently makes neither of us right or wrong. Did He not say "My Father's mansion has many rooms"?
There is room for us all!

That's what I believe, the path is wide enough for us all.

Anonymous said...

One more quick comment:
I just realised how well this all fits into your original post, taking it up a notch.
I it consider this way: We had the Bible for a couple thousand years. Now He will take us to the next level. He may not choose to follow the book - or He may!!
I leave that part up to Him !

Tom said...

Anon:
Before I say anything else, let me first just celebrate the fact that our most important agreement is that we both believe in The Christ. I believe that salvation hinges on that fact alone. Beyond that, it is God's decision who is His, and who is...well...not.
If you are reminding me that Christ not only bought me through the shedding of his blood, but ALSO served as the ultimate model of how to live, I'm with you all the way.
However, if I dont accept that His sacrifice took the place of my rightful punishment, then my sins are not yet forgiven! A cross, for me, is a symbolic reminder of that incredible love. By honoring it, I don't sacrifice Jesus anew - I re-affirm how MASSIVE His love is. This, in turn, ought to inspire Me to extend endless mercy and forgivenes to those who hurt me, whether or not they "deserve" that forgiveness.
We're also in agreement that Christ's death is meaningless without the resurrection. Just as one man (Adam) paved the way for sin to come upon all men, one man (Jesus) paves the way for redemption.
Thanks for your comment about not just quoting scripture. I do believe that God does not want us to turn off our brains. However, I also believe there is a very large risk in straying too far from scripture, and slowly/progressively creating our own vision of God. Does this mean that I don't think God can't act in ways not readily apparent in the Good Book? No. BUT, since He went to the trouble to reveal Himself through the Word (and just think where we'd be if He hadn't!), I feel like I'd be being disrespectful to God if I didn't place it first as my tool for understanding matters of Christ. It's such a RICH, DEEP book, isn't it? I'm hardly a Bible scholar, but even if there ARE possible "clerical" errors, I've found that the points it spells out are immutable.
I'm reminding myself here as much as anything. Spend MORE time meditating on the Bible than any other source of "inspiration," - including your own thoughts. You did allow yourself to quote scripture in your "my Father's mansion has many rooms" comment. Allow me the same: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to death." When Jesus himself was tempted by Satan, he simply responded to the Devil's twisting of scripture with the Godly take on scripture. To me, this is the ultimate reminder to place Faith in the Bible alone in matters of spiritual warfare.
Finally, let me share another link with you. I came across it a few months ago, and put it in my quick links spot in my browser. I share it with you not in the spirit of argument, but, as you say, for further thought. It's at: http://www.letusreason.org/Doct38.htm
Thanks for the invigorating conversation anonymous. We'll each learn from the Master himself some day. When we get there, let's visit each other's rooms in the mansion!
Meantime, happy reading. If you have any further reading to share with me, I'd be glad to take a look.
God Bless you,
Tom

Anonymous said...

Very good reply Tom.
Yes we are in huge agreement as to the imutilbe points. Much value there.
Best to honor Jesus by trying to be more like him - in practice.
I see a that lot hinges on the concept of sin.
Can you define it?

Tom said...

Sin = Disobeying God. Probably best not to ask me though. Pray to God to define it for you fully if there's any question there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, sounds like a plan.