Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Effort vs Trust

S) What you believe about these things should be kept between you and God.  You are fortunate if your actions don't make you have doubts.  But if you do have doubts about what you eat, you are going against your beliefs.  And you know that is wrong, because anything you do against your beliefs is sin. (Romans 14:22-23)
O) Even though eating meat (sacrificed to idols) is not a sin, it would become one if you did it thinking it was wrong.  Sin is anything that seperates us from God; I think we get messed up when we view sin as just "not following the rules".
A) I know people are going to think I'm sinning because I'm not following the going to church 'rule'.  That might hurt them.  But I really believe that God told me that for the time being, I shouldn't go.  If I went anyway, just to make everyone happy, wouldn't I be sinning--even if my belief is incorrect?
P) Help Lord!  If I have misunderstood your direction, please show me!

This is a journal entry I wrote soon after I left my church.  Looking at it now, I know my concern with 'hurting' people was more just worry over how people would judge me. And as I've come to a place of not caring much what people think, I have to admit a little of that has a 'screw you' attitude in it. (which is never good)  Feeling secure in God's love helps me to see these flaws a little clearer, without beating myself up over them.  I do want it to change, and I pray for change...but there's also a surrender to God in admitting I'm not exactly sure how to change. 

This is one of the big shifts in my thinking, and it's all about the will.  Many times so much of my effort in 'living for Christ' is actuality rooted in self. (will power) This is really a hard concept to convey, but basically my identity in trying to be a 'good Christian', and my efforts in achieving that can be mostly ego centered and not spiritually centered.  But as I begin to understand "it is God who is working in (me) both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13), there is more of a letting go in trust that God can change my heart, instead of an effort to obey and earn approval.  Unfortunately, we have been taught it is our will that saves us--because this is the only way to explain why some are and some are not saved.  But if it is our will that achieves our salvation, then it cannot be by grace, in my opinion.  (Salvation meaning our transformation into the image of Christ, not forgiveness so we won't be punished forever. Just want to keep clarifying that)

I exhort, then, first of all, there be made supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, for all men: for kings, and all who are in authority, that a quiet and peaceable life we may lead in all piety and gravity...  for this [is] right and acceptable before God our Savior, who doth will all men to be saved, and to come to the full knowledge of the truth;(1 Timothy 2:1-4)

There is a lot of argument over the word "will" in this verse.  Most translate it as "wish", but the better translations use will.  I know there can be confusion over why we need to pray if God's going to just save everyone in the end.  Again, if you think of salvation as going to heaven when you die, then it is confusing.  But if you think of salvation as the restoration of the earth and everything in it including us (God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven) then the prayers are more like, "I'm on board with this plan, God...I'm excited about you doing this and believe you can and I want to be a part of it" instead of, "please God, do what you can to make so-and-so become a Christian so they won't go to hell when they die." The first prayer is about resting in the confidence that this is God's work and He can do it and only wanting to be involved, the other is about doing our best to help God out with something He can't do, but can only 'wish' for.  Trusting that God can accomplish His will has made all the difference, and has begun in me the change from self effort into total surrender.