Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Above Everything Else - Is 'us'?
I listened to a message by Bruce Ware and he was explaining that many Christians think about the death of Christ as something to be exchanged for our 'value'. In other words, Jesus' death was costly. He died for us. He died for us because we are valuable. If we put something in the shopping cart, it has a price on it that is equal to its worth. But the problem is, Jesus didn't die because of our value. He died because of our sin. There's a big difference between those two concepts. At the same time, it is subtle. We can easily be duped into thinking that we are valuable.
Are we valuable? In one sense, yes, we are. We were made in God's image and are the highest of all creation on earth. We have dignity. In another sense, we really aren't. The world defines value a different way. It intends to make us something we were never intended to be. It has the connotation of entitlement. It leads to a wrong expectation. It leads to a false belief system, and ultimately idolatry.
Because of our darkened minds, we want to be independent of God. We want to call the shots and be in control of things.
This thinking must be more prevalent than what I had thought before. Today, in our churches, we have some strange, basic understandings of how life is supposed to work. We justify our sin, and make it ok, somehow. But how in the world does this happen?
Probably a lot of different reasons are behind this thinking, but, I think a lot of it goes right back to this idea of our intrinsic value, or what we think our value really is. Take some of the words to popular Christian songs today. Listen to what they are saying.
God gives you grace
You can't earn it
Stop thinking you're not worth it
Because you are
He gave you His love and He's not leaving
Gave you His Son so you'd believe it
You're lovely even with your scars
Don't try so hard (1)
(This one is subtle)
Laid behind the stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all (2)
We were the reason
That He gave His life
We were the reason
That He suffered and died
To a world that was lost
He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live (3)
Do you think there might be a connection between this kind of thinking and the fact that so many professing Christians are living in sin? By believing this, could we have made a god who we are comfortable with? How can so many Christians have affairs and not feel guilty? Maybe this is one reason why Christians believe that they should be happy. We are not interested in becoming holy. We are striving to be happy. How did this lie get into the church in the first place?
This kind of thinking takes away the fear of God, and makes God 'comfortable' to us. Is this what we want? It goes back to the thinking that says 'God is not good' and 'God is not to be trusted'. Of course, these are the devil's lies to us. "You're not happy in this marriage. Go find someone else. God would want above everything else, for you to be happy." That is the devil talking. He is setting traps up for us to fall into. We don't see it because sin is so deceiving.
Do we see the trick here? It is subtle. The wording sounds almost noble. Most people wouldn't even notice until their theology is challenged by life experiences.
Does God want us to be happy? Does He want us to be selfish? I think you know the answer. In our eyes, being happy is really equal with being selfish. But the truth is that we are not really happy when we are selfish. We think we are. We will keep trying harder and harder to make ourselves happier. But it is fruitless.
God wants us to be holy. We cannot become holy if we are trying to make ourselves happy. But knowing God is better than being happy. It is at a different level than happiness is. Only those who have repented of their sins, and turned to Christ can experience this. Only God can give us what we truly need. It comes with knowing Him, and getting to know Him better.
(1) Amy Grant
(2) Michael W. Smith