We had an interesting conversation in Bible class today. We were talking about polytheism (yes, at the grade 1 level!). There is only one true God. This put in my mind the song by Phillips Craig and Dean, "You Are God Alone." The first stanza says, "You are not a god created by human hands, You are not a god dependent on any mortal man, You are not a god in need of anything we can give, and by Your plan, that's just the way it is. You are God alone from before time began..." I pulled up the youtube video of the song and played it for the kiddos. In order to take Micah and Eden a little bit deeper (beyond the grade 1 level, you know), I pointed out the line that essentially states God doesn't need us. At that point, Micah was being belligerent and distracting. It is so frustrating. So I look at Micah and I say to him, "Micah, God doesn't need you to listen to me, God doesn't need you to obey, and God doesn't need you to learn about Him." That got his attention! I went on to say that God did not need to create us nor save us nor use us. BUT God loves us. He wants us to have a relationship with Him. Not because He's lonely. Not because He needs us. But because He wants us. And we can please Him. Now, not to ignore what Eden was doing here in all of this. She was a little taken aback. This was a blow and I think she felt sad. I can sympathize. I sure hadn't really thought about it before. But it is easy to get into a mode where I think that God needs me. Once I humbly admit that He doesn't, I can finally get into a place where I understand what my role is.
Craig Barnes says, "Our mission of service to God can never, never begin by thinking we have something to offer...We begin with the confession that whether we're a success or an outcast, we need mercy. Otherwise what we call Christian mission will actually be a disguise for remaining powerful...If we want to convert the world around us into a more holy place, we have to begin by allowing ourselves to be converted into lepers. Then we can join the voices of those who cry for mercy...(Luke 17:14)...If the first lesson on mission is to turn toward our suffering, the second is to then turn back to Jesus Christ in thanksgiving. All Christian mission is about gratitude for what Jesus has done in our own lives." One key premise to his book is that conversion is not a one-time event. It is on-going. Christ is using the events in our lives to reach us for Himself constantly. It is losing our lives so that we may gain a new life, and abundantly. And he guarantees it will not be the life we expected.
At another part of the book, he describes the journey the Hebrew people made from Egypt to the Promised Land, and all the rabbit-trailing they did "betwixt and between." He likened it to marriage and also to the Christian walk. He says, "The challenge to people of faith is to learn how to follow. Central to that task is giving up the expectation of knowing where we are going. Jesus delivered his most severe warnings on the cost of discipleship after he had already set his face toward Jerusalem...'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' One of the most frustrating things about Jesus is that He just won't settle down. He is constantly moving us away from the places where we would prefer to stay, like Galilee, and moving us closer to Jerusalem, where we do not want to go...We journey between the security of the pseudo-life we abandoned and the uncertainty of life waiting for us in Jerusalem. Along the way the gospel starts to change our lives...Sometimes we get to a place in life that feels so right...Well, we had best take a picture, because the chances are great that Jesus will invite us to experience more abandonment. That's because Jesus will not settle for our watered-down dreams that accept life the way it is. He keeps pushing us toward a promise that we cannot yet see...salvation will become clear there. That's how it changes our lives."
Knowing that restores the mystery and wonder to this long, difficult, unpredictable valley in my life.