Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Where is Security Found?

People want to feel secure. And not just to feel it, but to actually be secure. Yet security is a very difficult thing to achieve. The normal recipe for security offered by traditional wisdom - wealth, power, friends, health - is too often found to be of little help in providing true security.
Jesus offers a radically different approach to security. Jesus claims that being faithful to him brings security, while avoiding dangerous situations will not. Jesus claims that trusting God to provide for our needs will lead to security, while trusting our riches will not. Jesus claims that being watchful and ready for his return will provide security, while pursuing our selfish interests will not. Jesus claims that choosing to follow him even when it puts us at odds with those we love will make us secure, while following those we love in rejecting Jesus will not. Jesus claims that keeping our relationships honest and peaceful, as far as it is possible from our side, will lead to security, while defending our pride will not.
It takes faith to trust that Jesus is right about the source of our true security. We tend to trust things we can touch and hold in our hands. Jesus says those are the very things that will fail us. You will trust something for your security, the only question is “Will you trust Jesus?”

A Clear Image of God

God commanded us not to make carved images of him. This is the most obvious form of idolatry. There is a more subtle and dangerous form. When we form mental images or even theological concepts of God that are not based on his true image, then we are also guilty of idolatry. However, unlike an idol, it is not easy to detect or correct this “thought idol.”
The most obvious test of your concept of God is simply looking closely at your life. If we are serious about following God then our lives tend to become like God and his commands.
If our lives are full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, and gentleness then we know that God is living in us and our concept of God is consistent with Scripture.
However, if our lives are full of strife, sorrow, impatience, rudeness, evil, unfaithfulness, self-indulgence and harshness then we have either failed in following Jesus, or we have lived up to a faulty concept of God.
One reason the Pharisees and Jesus clashed so often is that they both lived faithfully to their concepts of God. Jesus’ God was a loving Father who wants relationship with all his children. The Pharisees had an image of God as a strict, exclusive, demanding, angry Ruler. They became like their image of God. So did Jesus. So will you!

Accepting the Kingdom of God

Jesus spoke often of the kingdom. He wanted to prepare all of us for life under the reign of God. Jesus sent his disciples out with a simple message, “The kingdom of God is near you.” This message was to be given to those who accepted them and to those who rejected them. They were simply told to announce the kingdom, not to pass judgment on those who heard their message.
Often the people who most need to hear the message of the kingdom are those who think they are already close to God! This may come as a surprise, but assumed righteousness is an effective mask to real relationship with God. Therefore, disciples must continually choose to accept the kingdom and not think they have already arrived in God’s image. Here are some common obstacles to accepting the kingdom…
· Thinking that working FOR God is the same as knowing God.
· Confusing observation of the world with revelation from God.
· Thinking knowing God’s will is the same as doing God’s will.
· Unwillingness to resist the good to embrace the best.
Jesus does not give all people the same prescription for their spiritual growth. To some (like the scribe who questioned him concerning "who is my neighbor?") he says, “Go and do.” To others, (like Martha who was complaining that she was stuck doing all the cooking while Mary was just sitting down on the job), he says, “Sit and listen.”
Which should we do? Probably BOTH!