It seems a lot easier to trust God with ethereal things like “going to heaven” than something so practical as dropping a borrowed axe in a river. How do you trust God in that? How do you trust God with things like lost keys or not making enough money to cover all your bad credit card choices from a few years ago? Sure, I can trust Him to get me to heaven, but maybe I’m more comfortable with that issue because I don’t really have to face the reality of that on a daily basis.
One of the more difficult things that I wrestle with is that it seems that God primarily, but not exclusively, works through His body, the church. The church of God should be doing everything the body of Christ did before his crucifixion. The problem is, it doesn’t. Lets say God wants to provide for me in some tangible, practical way according to my need and in response to my prayers, but if His body isn’t firing on all cylinders, maybe it will fail to respond to the brain’s promptings and in the end I’m out of luck. Not because of God, but because of His body not walking in obedience. Man, that’s a tough one! Makes me want to make sure that I’m always being obedient to the promptings of the Spirit and willing to be generous even if it hurts.
Here’s the problem. I think this perspective is a slight distortion of the truth. Check this out:
Everything we need is ours in Christ.
2 Peter 1:3: By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
From start to finish, by faith. (not earned)
Romans 1:17: This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
When God makes a promise, He will make sure that He fulfills it.
Hebrews 6:17-19: God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
Now, look at Abraham. God made Him a promise and Abraham believed Him. He didn’t explain away why God hadn’t come through for him yet, nor did He think that someone had somehow messed up God’s plan (like the whole “getting a child through his wife’s servant” thing). He wasn’t concerned that God had lost his opportunity to fulfill his promise simply because things weren’t working out according to his own schedule. It could have been easy to think that either he or his wife had somehow messed up God’s plan through their impatience or adultery.
Romans 4:20-21: Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
Bam! I would even venture to say, “Wah-bam!” That’s what faith really is. I think it’s easier to have more faith in people’s selfishness and greed than it is to have faith that God can work with all that junk and still fulfill His promises in your life. Is He really that capable? Is He really that good?
I do believe that we can miss out on God’s will for us if we refuse to obey the promptings of the Spirit, but I simply can’t believe that that somehow means that God’s promises won’t be fulfilled. He will accomplish what He promises whether I or the next guy responds in obedience or not. That’s the amazing potency of God’s power. Maybe He has to talk to three or four people, maybe nine or ten, before He finds someone who is listening and willing to respond on my behalf. Maybe He just bypasses them all and I randomly stumble across *insert current need here* lying on the street. That’s fine with me! The only down side there is that a bunch of people really missed out on being used by God to do amazing, Kingdom things.
Find the promises of God in scripture. Stand on them unwaveringly. Watch and be amazed.
I’ve been in the military for almost 9 years now. My enlistment date is coming up really quick: December 1st 2012. That is when I have to decide to stay in or get out. It’s pretty much the half-way point to the 20 year minimum to retire. If I enlist for a third term, it will most likely be for another 4 years. I’ve served all those year in the 133rd MN Air National Guard as a Structures troop. That means that I’m a carpenter for the Air Force. That’s actually how I started my career as a carpenter, which today is allowing me remodel my home into a place of ministry. I don’t know where I would be without the Guard. I also don’t know what use it is to wonder. Hm…
I’ve deployed twice. Same place both times: Kuwait. After three years away I moved into a dorm room right across the hall from my former living space. The running joke for the first few week among those of us who had been there before was, “I think we were just dreaming and we never actually left this place!” Not much had changed except for the work tempo as all the troops moved out of Iraq and needed a place to stay or transition through. It was a lot of work! I spent 4 months of my life there in 2008 and 6 more months in 2012. On my most recent deployment I got promoted to Technical Sergeant (E-6).
In a lot of ways I feel like Joseph who was blessed at whatever he put his hand to. I know that I’ve served well up until this point. My commander likes me (last I heard anyway), my supervisor likes me, some of the troops under me like me. I’ve gotten numerous awards and recognition for my work ethic and leadership ability. I know I could do well there. Maybe even become Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) if I tried for it (which would be a really great retirement deal!). I am second in command in my flight/shop of 9. That leaves a lot of room for advancement in the future. A few people never even make it to TSgt in their entire 20 years, and I was already there by 8. My heavenly Father’s favor has been on me from the moment I swore in.
Therein lies the struggle. Swearing in? Pledging allegiance? Promising my life to defend a kingdom of this world? Unquestioningly spending myself one Sabbath a month on behalf of my country? Volunteering to be separated from my wife for months at a time? Being trained to kill? Declaring our president as lord (in the very real sense – ruler) of my life? Something isn’t resonating here.
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Do not take revenge. Forgive. Love. Killing is okay sometimes?
One of my primary functional theologies is that I can trust God. I can trust him with my finances. I can trust him with my house. I can trust him with my family. And, one of the most helpful, I can trust him to stand for justice on my behalf when I am wronged. But as soon as I take matters into my own hands, I stop trusting His. You just can’t do both. How does that apply to a believer in the military who is going over seas to take revenge, or better yet, a preemptive strike on our enemies? I’m getting sick of all the back-door ways that we are making it seem okay to not live how Jesus lived.
What would it look like to lay myself down on the behalf of other people, even my enemies, and trust that this will somehow change the world and truly end all the violence and evil? Isn’t this what Christ did? He humbled himself and told us that in His kingdom, the greatest are those who submit themselves under others like a servant. His kingdom and the kingdom I am sworn to protect right now do not mix very well. Is it even possible to serve two masters?
If I am a disciple of Jesus, my life should look somewhat like his. He avoided violence and condemned hatred at every turn. I am made in His image. Here is my life.
- I am not applying this conviction to anyone other than me.
- The government does have a role to wield the sword to maintain good order according to Romans 13.
- Yeah, Hitler and all that… I don’t have the answers, but I’m aware of the argument.
- Non-violence doesn’t necessarily mean non-conflict or non-action. Jesus didn’t kill anyone when he drove the money-changers from the temple.
- I believe I earned my right to speak my thoughts publicly by serving America for 9 years in the Air Force.
- Please feel free to voice your opposition. I am fully aware that most people in America don’t agree with me on this, including many in my own family. I probably won’t respond unless it is obvious that it is meant to encourage the dialog, not just to tell me I hate America.
- Maybe this post was a bad idea. But, my primary objective in writing this blog is to tell you what God is doing and has done in my life. This is definitely something He is in the process of doing.
- I remember arguing against this position to a number of people from our old church in an open forum discussion about this topic, so I get it. I’ve been on both sides. As a side note, the forum was held at a local bar and discussed over some brews! I think that’s pretty awesome for a church meeting (even though I don’t drink much anymore).