For the longest time these gifts scared me. I didn’t want to acknowledge the possibility that I could ever hear from God, receive physical healing, etc. What if I decided it was truly possible, put myself out there to God, and believed completely that God had given me a spiritual gift beyond things like leadership, teaching, or service…and then it didn’t happen? What if I prayed with all of my heart to hear from God…and was met by silence? What if I prayed over someone for healing…and it didn’t happen?
We might not consciously think these thoughts, but subconsciously my brain frequently falls into the following pattern: ‘God certainly played a role, blessed me with certain talents and abilities, and brought opportunities into my life; but ultimately I worked really hard, took risks, constantly sought knowledge to improve personally, etc. God obviously played a role, but I deserve some credit too.’
I don’t think it would be a breaking news story to suggest that Americans have a problem with coveting. Don’t get me wrong, everyone does. This is not a uniquely American issue. However, you would be hard pressed to find a society in the world that does more to ACTIVELY PROMOTE coveting as something that is actually to be desired. We treat coveting as something to strive for and not something to be avoided.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 9:19-22
This morning at 1:30 AM was one of those mornings. Stress would not be the correct word for how I felt this morning when I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Just mentally cluttered. It was hard to turn my brain off as I tossed and turned. Finally I gave in and accepted the fact that I wasn’t falling back asleep any time soon and maybe I should get up and spend time with God. So I went downstairs, grabbed a glass of water, and settled in to see what God had for me today. What truth did he want to uncover? Well, not exactly…
With virtually any sin issue in our lives, there are almost always self-inflicted challenges we have to deal with on the backend. These challenges may be with our health, finances, career, emotional health, trust with others, etc. Sin issues in our life almost always leave behind some “inhabitants” in our lives that we are forced to deal with as thorns in our side.
God wants raw. God wants unfiltered. God is unafraid of our anger, frustration, and hurt. He wants us to lay it all before him, not just what we perceive as the good stuff. To God, it is all good stuff. He wants us to be authentic with him.
When we begin to say, “Look at how closely I am walking with Jesus! No wonder things are going well! God is blessing me because of what a faithful follower I have been!” pride can very quickly set in. We begin to feel like these blessings are something that we have earned and are entitled to “because of our amazing faith”.
To be clear, I am not arguing for or against either of these positions. I am merely stating that we have an interesting way, as a church, of being incredibly selective of which issues we decide truly outrage us and what issues we will throw our collective political weight behind. I would challenge anyone to go back and read the entire book of Matthew, every single word Jesus spoke while on earth, and see if you come to the conclusion that we are fighting the right cultural fights at this moment in time. Are our collective actions bringing others to Christ or pushing them away?