CONCLUSIONS: PART 7
“These insights I have gained in the school of life”
If you are actually reading along with my little writing challenge here, you know that I am using the prompts from Anthony deMello from his book “Wellsprings”. After he poses this prompt, gives 7 categories of insights gained. So this post might be a little bit longer…You may even want to scroll to the sub-questions which interest you most (you lazy cheapskate!)
INSIGHTS INTO GOD
A gallery of images is found within each heart and soul, and we form our conceptions of people, circumstances, and life from the images in that gallery. Most importantly, we form our conceptions of God from those images. The bad news lies in the reality those images are especially distorted.
Our perceptions of God are vital to our well-being, and we have drastically misconstrued those perceptions with images we have created out of our circumstances, relationships, and experiences. We project our broken images on God, and He becomes to us a fractured version of who He truly is.
Believers are not the only ones who have broken images of God in their hearts’ galleries. If you ask those who do not believe to describe the God they refuse to believe in, you will likely find it to be a false god as well. Our broken images are common to the human heart. My inaccurate perceptions of God make Him significantly small. Not only God is degraded in this, but so am I. Why would I serve and dedicate my life to a significantly lesser god?
When we begin to concern that search with the things of God, we are bemused at best. Some part of our heart resonates with the Psalmist. “Deep calls to deep!” When the finite attempts to understand the infinite, it will always be calling out into an expanse they struggle to reach. God is altogether beyond and outside our understanding.
This chasm would remain if God does not take initiative toward us. The great news for all of us who are desperately searching is God has spoken. He has moved toward us with a sovereign disclosure of himself. I take great comfort and delight knowing I can pursue God for the rest of my life without ever fully grasping him, but that search is not without any reward along the way. God is always revealing himself to us in his attributes. Isaiah reminds us his thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and we would never be able to know those thoughts unless God moved toward us in disclosure and words.
God has certainly moved toward us, and in Jesus Christ, clothed his higher thoughts in The Word in flesh. Thank God for His love and grace exemplified in any morsel of self-disclosure, none of which we deserve.
INSIGHTS INTO THE WORLD
This world was once perfect, but it did break and is broken. There was perfection and true 'shalom', but of course, with generations of choice, humanity has terribly broken the original state God put in place.
Followers of Jesus and believers [ought to, but do not always] look to scripture without getting stuck in the cynicism and skepticism typical of our world's outlook. They actually believe and take God at His Word that He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). They believe God will restore and repair what is broken. Not only WILL but IS! They believe peace (shalom) is possible.
INSIGHTS INTO HUMAN NATURE
It is deep within me a trust that humans want to love so much, but hate is easier. Humanity is made of wounded individuals who are every day trying to learn how to live and love out of their woundedness. The large majority never learn how to do this, and so anger and hate are just natural wells which overflow from the one who is unwilling to do the hard work of love.
INSIGHTS INTO JESUS CHRIST
I am more and more convinced the most important question everyone and anyone has ever been asked and needs to answer is "Who do YOU say [Jesus] is?" We have to make account for what we do with Jesus. It does not matter what other people do with Him. It does not matter what other people say of Jesus. What matters with a weight I cannot possibly measure is what do I do with Jesus Christ.
Who do I say Jesus is? Is he Christ, Messiah, Savior, and Lord? Not just the words, but who I, in my heart of hearts, know Jesus to be?
At the heart of my answer lies salvation and peace, but also conflict and opposition to others. Before you answer that question, it is important to know regardless of your answer you will directly oppose someone. You either oppose people and the norm or you oppose the Son of God.
There are consequences to both oppositions. You oppose men and you will face ridicule, persecution, and possibly death. Oppose the Son of God, and you will face death (crazy, we ALL face this one), or the pain of Jesus being ashamed of and separate from you (Mark 8:38).
Suddenly one consequence seems far less horrible than the other.
One thing I always say is: “For most of us, once we came to Jesus, we quit coming to Jesus.” There is something great in knowing that Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God with us. His is the “living water”, and that is water I can draw on every day as a follower of Jesus because of His Spirit. If I would draw from that living water, I would never thirst again.
INSIGHTS INTO LOVE
Love requires risk, but it is always worth the risk if you are willing. When we are told the most important thing is to love God and love others, many of us who are honest wonder if we really love God at all. A large portion of the honest ones may wonder if they love God ANYMORE as they used to.
Two sorts of love are emotional and willful. Emotional love is uncontrollable, sometimes volatile, and always erratic at best. Emotional love also wanes with time and can rekindle at varying times and degrees. We are often speaking of this sort of love when we wonder whether or not we still love God or people. “We don’t FEEL like we do, so maybe we just don’t.”
This is not the sort of love we speak of in the greatest commandment. That is a willful love. It involves the love that is evident in the will to love. This is the true tendency of the heart. Do I truthfully will to love God (and people) with all that I am even though my actions and affections cannot be so trusted? If so, then I can stills ay that I love God. In fact, there is love in the will to love your neighbor.
AW Tozer said, “before God every man is what he wills to be”. This is because God knows the heart and the will. He understands your heart and your desire to love God even though your actual affection flails about at best. It is because God knows the desire you have to love Him even though your actions do not always coincide. It is because God knows your desire and will to love Him, and He receives that will to love him as TRUE LOVE to Him.
The good news is that if the will to love is maintained at all costs, it can far easier be fanned to flames of emotional love from time to time.
INSIGHTS INTO RELIGION
Religion is like a scalpel; it depends on the user. A scalpel in the hands of a maniacal person is a weapon, which can do enormous, and potentially fatal damage. A scalpel in the hands of a caregiver can make the proper incisions to bring about healing out of critical conditions.
INSIGHTS INTO PRAYER
I have come to know that prayer is not an element of my relationship with Jesus. Prayer IS my relationship with Jesus. Once I came to this realization, I also had to take a more sober look at answering the question, “So how IS my relationship with Jesus?”
It's really no wonder that a lot of non-Christians, new Christians and others are uncomfortable prayer. They do not speak the native tongue of formalized prayer. That is why prayer seems like such a daunting task to so many people. There are so many unnecessary formalities to common prayer today. We use certain language that NOBODY actually uses in common communication. We pray like God is preoccupied with a foreign language; like he is preoccupied with our fine form and technique. We pray as if we have no personality. We pray as though we were robots programmed by some old English scientist.
Why would God give us a distinct personality and then require us to pray apart from it? Why would he make us unique and make us pray uniform and unnatural?
Prayer is only so awkward and daunting to people because they're afraid they'll mess it up; afraid they do not speak this language well enough.Prayer is not a foreign language.