"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD...He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Micah 4:2

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Slashing Through Underbrush

Treks through mountain passages may be easy to follow when the path is clear, but when underbrush, felled trees, and boulders obscure the trail; the hike becomes more difficult and often dangerous. When inclement weather is added to the climb, it is almost impossible to find secure footing.

While on this path of study, I find myself pushing away the clutter and grasping for a sure hold. I began searching the Manual as a hiker grasps with his hands while tentatively stretching a leg, searching for solid ground. The toughness of this climb has been made by cultural comforts and faithless leaders who neglect the double-edged sword provided to cut through the underbrush, so others find the true path. I'm constantly getting snagged on common thought that wants to excuse humans and make them not responsible before a righteous God of Infinite Love.
I copied this quote which wears like a trail signpost directing hikers toward an unstable path, which at first glance, looks plausible. Yet, when followed, I found it traps many on a very dangerous path of doubting God's Word. Unsure feet are gingerly placed on muddy slopes of experience, rather than biblical truth. Through these words, many believe that man is somehow acceptable as they are because God is love. Displeasure rains when 'common and comfortable' experience is brought into question, even causing some to turn away in discouragement, misunderstanding or harsh judgment. Even in the midst of storms, any opinion characterizing God must be backed by His revealed truth, helping others find solid ground for their journey.

This path of thought caused a difficult climb and as I pushed back the underbrush on this trail, I was slapped with overgrown weeds of post-modern thought. This is a man supposed philosophy, leaning heavily on experience superimposing absolute truth. Through God's precious Word, precept upon precept shows God's Love uprooting these acceptable weeds through His Mercy and Grace. Because of His Mercy, His Grace touched me and I'm no longer broken. I'm no longer the same! In an instant I was changed, no longer "as you are" characterizes me. I'm filled with joy and praise with a heart full of gratitude and thanksgiving because my loving God met the condition of his holiness through the blood of His beloved Son. He provided Himself the Way to make me a new creation. He placed me in Christ Jesus, drastically changing me from death to life, and dressed me in His righteousness.

In Scriptures, we're told it is "God, being rich in mercy, because of His great Love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christ" (Eph 2:4)  Because He so loved the world, He sent His beloved Son. (John 3:16) This Son, Jesus, was rejected and died on the cross to forgive the sins of the world. Yet, this forgiveness must be received. (John 1:12) God openly invites all, "whosoever will, may come." under the condition that we believe His Word concerning Jesus. When one responds to His truth, agreeing with God concerning his need, he receives Christ's life, making him a new creation, being change from death to spiritual life.
To continue 'as you are' would mean you remain dead and unforgiven.

I found through research that this teaching of leaving us "as you are" is characterized by the "dissolution of cold hard facts in favor of warm fuzzy subjectivity". By dissolving God's Word, we begin to lean on our own understanding and in our own strength, try to improve our experiences in a broken world. This philosophy thwarts growth and development in those who have been made new creations. God placed His new creation IN CHRIST and gives victory over brokenness only in Christ.
It's easy to point at experience and see that left to ourselves, we fall flat on our face, but God's Love never leaves nor forsakes us. Looking only at ourselves, many accept failure in the battle of the flesh against the spirit, convinced they are "not as they should be". Jesus said our "should be" is found as we "abide in Him". (John 15) We're not to "lean on our own understanding", making truth relative by measuring our own experience. Remaining in Christ, our measurement is Christ's holiness, the very Truth of God. Removing Truth makes "should be" impossible for man. Relative truth undermines God's declaration that the believer's condition is "more than conquerors".
Again in Titus 3, we are told just how much we have been changed. "He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did...He declared us 'not guilty'..." NLT (Titus 3:3-4)
We have been declared 'not guilty'.

Christ's declaration of acquittal begins the slow process of conforming us into the image of His Son. 2 Peter 1:3-8 explains "his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power he has given all of his rich and wonderful promises."
Peter further encourages us to "make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to our lives" by adding to our faith in God's work of a new creation. Through addition, our "Faith produces a life of moral excellence, which leads to knowing God better. Knowing God better leads to self-control, which leads to patient endurance and on to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians and that grows into a genuine love for everyone". NLT (2 Peter 1:3-8 italicized mine)

A life of faith pleases God. This process is just as He has planned for each of his children. Through faith in His power, we are exactly what we should be where we should be - abiding in Christ.

The challenge for this week really took a hold on my heart and so I pass it on to my readers: 
                                    "How often do I truly take God at his Word?"

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