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August 14, 2017

When we lived in P.E.I. I once had a crazy thought. Now this thought is really wild and I am kind of scared about throwing it at you because it is so bizarre. Well here goes. I was thinking that we often talk, as believers, about what Jesus did for us on the cross and all that God has done for us. Webpages and books wax eloquent on the gracious, giving nature of God and how great His gifts are to us. So here is my crazy thought. What does God get in return? For all of God’s magnanimity and Jesus’ horrific sacrifice what does God get out of the deal? I am sure we are all clear on what we get from God but what does the cost benefit analysis look like from His perspective?

Yesterday something happened that we weren’t quite expecting but then as you follow God in faith that pretty much sums up your whole life. We have seen God do this to us before so it was not a surprise, just unexpected. Wanda and I took Milo for his usual morning stroll and when we were coming back to the hotel Wanda saw a woman with many bags around her car just a few doors down from our room. She joked that this lady packed just like she did, which is all too true (sigh). Anyways being the gregarious person she is Wanda struck up a conversation with our fellow traveler. We quickly found out that this lady had been kicked out of her house by her ex-husband and was now homeless like us. Seeing she was in need Wanda gave her some of our food because she was diabetic and had little funds. Today we are going out to get her an Amplified Bible (best version out there ) and I am sure Wanda and myself will do what we can to counsel, help and love this beaten, abandoned soul.

Now I am not writing this to make ourselves look good but just to show you what happens when you walk in faith. As you follow Him you will slowly become like Him in thought, word and deed. It is a long hard process but the wilderness is designed that way. God wants a Bride for His Son that looks and acts like His Son and that takes time and effort. God, at the very core of His being, is sacrificial. He gave up His own life for us but what does He get in return? If you follow Him through the wilderness and learn your lessons, you will become sacrificial as well. That means you always give of yourself, no matter the cost, because He is worth it.
So back in P.E.I. God began to start me down this road that I could not look at my walk of faith in terms of myself. That is selfish and comes from ‘self’. No, what God wanted me to learn was to see things from His perspective because He has no ‘self’. Too often I had to come back to seeing everything in my life as ‘what is in it for God?’ By doing this God was grabbing my attention away from my default focus on ‘self’. It wasn’t easy at first but slowly I began to understand just what He was doing. By first getting my focus off my ‘self’ it was denying ‘self’ a platform in my life. That’s good. Secondly He began to show me how He sees His people and what is important to Him. That is also good. The major thing Wanda and I learned was that it is character, spiritual maturity, that He values above all else in His people. Gifts, talents, they come and go but character defines who a person is and affects how they will behave. Very important to God.

As we were in the Bible bookstore today to get the Bible I looked at all the books authors have written about God, church and stuff like that. Hadn’t been a bookstore for a very long time so it was a bit of a shock for me. As I wandered the aisles I got the sense of all the noise of ‘words’ that has bombarded believers today. Then as I thought about all the useless words that are spoken I wondered to myself how many of these authors live sacrificially as Jesus did. I have no idea how many do or don’t I was just saddened that we have quietly replaced a living dynamic faith of walking with God with armchair intellectualism that is about as useless as a giraffe in a grocery store.

If you look at all the churches, books, webpages, conferences and media out there many give you the mistaken impression that all God cares about are gifts, talents and personalities. Slight correction. Gifts, talents and personalities are all things ‘self’ cares about. What God sees as important is maturity and character. If you read God’s Word carefully you will see words like ‘mature’, ‘patient endurance’, ‘suffering’. They occur far more frequently than we like to admit but they are there. God loves us more than you know and has given us many gifts, including His Son BUT He expects something in return. What He is expecting, in His cost benefit analysis, are people that are growing into spiritual maturity. This is not something that is well understood but extremely important. The church has had it backwards for too long. We are in a time for correction in God’s cost benefit analysis.

I suggest it is time to put aside our selfish desire to ‘get’ from God and look closer at what He wants from His relationship with us. It may be best to give up our idea about what we think He wants and let Him speak for Himself. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Don’t you think it is time that He gets back something from our relationship with Him, something He values highly, a mature adult son who thinks, talks and acts like His Son? I told you it was a crazy idea.