How can a holy God maintain a relationship with sinful people?
How can a holy God maintain a relationship with sinful people?
Satan is uncreative in his tactics. Identifying them doesn’t make it easier to defeat sin but we can ask Jesus for help when we recognize them as temptations.
The devil magnifies himself to be bigger than he is.
He uses fear to keep you from moving forward.
He disguises himself to be good but we know his motives are selfish. He tries to get us to make selfish decisions too.
He keeps us occupied and loves when we waste time.
He wants us to put value in temporary pleasures. It keeps us from seeking God.
He makes us turn to temporary comfort. He wants us to turn to what is familiar so that we don’t find eternal security.
He keeps our eyes focused on negative things so that we lose hope.
There are a few more but I’ll have to draw them first! :p
All of a sudden, it became clear to me.
So many talk about humanity in relation to animals, as though our basic instincts should be the same at its very core. Some purport the idea of promiscuity or seeking pleasure first, even at the expense of others, as an animal would; but we were created with intentionality against this. Without belief in creation, however, it is impossible to see this – the will of God, the concentrated intentional decision that was made to breathe life into the nostrils of a relational being.
He created us differently, and so it is asinine to begin to even compare ourselves to the rest of creation. We are called to stewardship, not to be owned by creation – which is, essentially, what happens when we allow our thoughts and actions to be determined by primitive things. We are called to exercise dominion, not to be dominated.
We were created, and we are called to uphold the way in which He created us. It is an impossible task, however – one that, to the pagan, seems to go against nature itself. But He has given His Son, and sent the Holy Spirit to redeem us, to make us new – a new creation!
What is my friendship with God like? Am I His friend simply because I need Him?
Aristotle says that friendship based on this necessity is an inferior type of friendship, for it is a friendship that is only interested in gain; it seeks only to benefit. Needs and wants change with shifting seasons, and so these types of friendships are easily discarded. With those original desires satisfied, the friendship is no longer necessary, for it has served its purpose and run its course.
I have heard often the maxim that claims the wisdom of this age — to rid yourself of friendships that only sap your energy, that offer nothing in return for what you put in. Its idea runs along the same vein as a philosophy of Anacharsis, as quoted by Diogenes Laertius: “it [is] better to have one friend of great value than many friends who [are] good for nothing.” A similar idea is seen in Confucianism, stating, “have no friends not equal to yourself.”
However intelligent this self-preservation may seem, it lacks wisdom in that it is completely self-absorbed and self-contained. We see an example of one who keeps friends only equal to himself in 1 Kings 12. Rehoboam seeks the advice of his friends, who had grown up with him and are similar in character to him, and this leads to his ruin, and the division of Israel.
A further problem occurs from the fact that if all held to this “truth,” no one would grow outside of their social norms; all would remain unchallenged, and they would stagnate in character. There is a failure to recognise the fact that we are not the penultimate example of a friend; therefore, someone who is a “better friend” than ourselves would quickly identify us as one that would constitute a waste of time for them, and we would quickly be thrown to the side.
The greatest friend of all is Jesus. He has no need that can be fulfilled in a friendship with us, no desire that can be sated by our companionship. If He agreed with the purported wisdom of the day, that He required only friendships worthy of Himself, we would be forever lost to darkness. If God considers us friends, then how can we claim to require friends that are only “good” for us, in the worldliest sense of the word?
These difficult friendships challenge us to grow and to give. It is a true friendship that recognises the lack of reciprocity, and still seeks to maintain and even nurture that friendship. Thus it is important to be content in order to seek true friendship, so that our desire for friendship is not out of a desire to receive something for ourselves.
I’ve digressed somewhat, but to return to my original question: what is my friendship with God like? It is impossible for me to be content outside of God, so how can I claim to seek His friendship without seeking something that only He can provide? If I must be content in order to have true friendship, can I ever be a true friend to God?
Yes. In fact, God first calls me His friend. If love is defined by the lover and not the beloved, then friendship can surely also be defined by the greatest friend of all. If He calls me His friend, how can I deny Him? His love and friendship are irresistable.
The contentment that only He can bring is a free gift. Everything He gives is free, insofar as we cannot give anything in exchange. Therefore, we are already content as we enter into this friendship with God. We can distort this by seeking to receive something in order to “satisfy our needs,” but a simple friendship based solely on wanting to be His friend is not impossible. But we must learn how to be content in order to enter into this sort of friendship.
What does it mean to be content in today’s context? How can I be content?
When everything clamours for my attention, from money, to the need to be loved and accepted; when the world threatens, when my own world is nearing ruin around me, what does it mean to be content?
It is not circumstance that defines a man, but principal. And here is no principal other than that defined by God; therefore, God defines man.
If satisfaction can be taken as a definition for contentment, it can be seen that contentment comes from God alone. Only He satisfies my soul with His love. This love is not contingent on anything, whether my behaviour, or the status of my spirituality, or how much or how little of it I possess; it is impossible to quantify something so great that it can only be mentioned in the same breath as “infinity”. God’s love is unending, with no bounds. Therefore, I cannot possess “much” of it, and I cannot have “little” of it. I can only know it to the degree that I am aware of it, but His love is constant and divine, and it remains as such.
A newborn that is completely unaware of even himself, and is therefore oblivious to the love and tender care that his parents have for him is still loved. Similarly, in spite of a lack of awareness of how vast His love is for me, I am, and remain, loved.
Satisfaction — contentment — then, is a state that begins outside of me. It is not contingent on myself or my circumstances. It is ever-available, but can be something that I simply do not acknowledge.
So many times, I have had thoughts that I have allowed to disappear into the haze of daily life, cursing myself later as I’m unable to recover them. Sometimes they do return, but often I have found that my first thoughts on any given subject have been the most beautifully poetic, poignant without always meaning to be, so that my own thoughts were provoked by, what originally were, my own thoughts. If somehow the idea is retained despite not first recording them, I find that my second thoughts on a subject are not always more refined; rather they are sanitary affairs, prosaic and direct. These thoughts end up locked away in a file somewhere, rarely again seeing the light of my own eyes, as the method does not complement the idea, and ultimately, both are much too lacking.
They do not exist.
I asked my Lord if I could see the cherry blossoms when I was on holiday in Japan. There seemed to be no response, and I quickly forgot as I boarded the plane back to Australia.
I heard children laughing as I waited for the bus to go to school. They were going up the mountain for an excursion. I asked my Lord jokingly if I would have such an opportunity. I laughed to myself as I boarded the bus and quickly forgot about my request as the day went on.
The Lord asked me today, “Do you remember when you said you wanted to see the cherry blossoms?”
I could not reply.
The Lord asked me, “Do you remember wanting to go on an excursion for class?”
I had nothing to say.
The Lord said, “I remember everything.”