Sunday, June 24, 2012
How Holy Do I Have to be to be used by the Lord?
I came sneaking into the Reformed camp with heels dug in and mind closed. I was later relieved to discover that it is much harder to miss God's will than I had always thought. I seemed to have concluded as a young man that I could thwart God's plan about anytime I wanted. I could rebelliously choose the wrong woman to marry and produce a bunch of pagans, refuse to witness and send all kinds of people to hell, take a drink of beer and offend people so badly that they lost their salvation, and; you get the picture. As a result I became sad, depressive and tried to be SERIOUS about Christianity.
Eve messed up God's Plan
Then I started to read, really read the Bible. For example, the Christmas story in Matthew stunned me. The genealogy of Jesus was a mess. All those people who fouled up the lineage of the Messiah could have kept God from accomplishing His will. There are four very special women in a male line up. How can that be when we know that God only chooses and uses men? I always heard it was special men, holy men, strong men, fighting men who never sinned that God uses.
And, those women were not always pure and holy. Tamar seduced her father-in-law. Yuck! That has to be worse than pornography and we all know that once you pick up a Playboy you are ruined for God's service forever. He had hoped you would someday go to Asia to minister but now you are damaged goods and He will have to reject you forever. The kind of man God uses, er woman God uses is sexually pure.
Then there is a gal named Rahab. Wow! She was a madam and lived in the red light district of the town. What a loser. What was God doing choosing her to hide the spies and liberate the Holy Land? Then, God wrote it all down and flaunts it in the Bible. Does He not realize what kind of message He is sending to the community?
The third woman may even be worse. Bathsheba wantonly seduced David who was a real good guy until then. He was solely after God's heart. Then that devil in a blue dress got hold of him and made him fall. Then she made him murder one of his greatest friends and supporters, Uriah. She almost stopped God dead in His tracks.
What was I to conclude? Maybe I was wrong and God could actually His purposes through fallen, frail, broken, fleshly men and women? All these women were not only serial sinners they were Gentiles. That is not even racially pure let alone sexually pure. How could God have allowed those good Hebrew men to get together with Gentiles and pollute the gene pool and spiritual DNA? Surely the Messiah could not arrive out of such a sinful genealogy.
Then God decided to us an old woman, Elizabeth and her doubting husband to bring John the Baptist into the world. Does God not know that old people do not make good parents? The kid might end up as ADHD or something worse. He might have a nasty personality and go around telling people to repent. And how about that old priest? He had been praying for years for a baby but it is obvious why God did not answer his prayers. He had no faith. But then God went on and told him to keep trying because he and Elizabeth would produce a kid. Zechariah still was a doubter and the Angel had to strike him dumb.
Then take a look at Mary. She was just a kid. A baby having a baby. And she was not married. That is not good for the Messiah’s reputation. To top it all off, Joseph, not Mary was the son of David. So the Messiah’s Davidic lineage came though his adoptive father not through the bloodline. Adoption was not looked upon with great favor back then. What was God thinking?
Over the years a small light began to come on in my head. I discovered that my sinful condition placed me in a tunnel not a cave. It is not a dead end. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I am not in charge of God's will and I cannot thwart it at anytime I want. I am somehow part of that humongous plan even when I do not know it or know how it works. I cam to one new conclusion:
It is not the KIND OF MAN THAT GOD CHOOSES that is so important but THE KIND OF GOD THAT MAN CHOOSES.
When I believed in a small God who will was only accomplished when I cooperated I was full of pride and self-importance but that led me to sadness, false guilt and anxiety. I might somehow unknowingly fail to follow through, teach my kids right, evangelize all the people I know, say "Yes" to God, etc. Being the Messiah is hard work. I read books about "Finding God's Will" and anxiously tried to be "In the center of God's will" but that made me even more anxious.
Then it hit me. Missing God's will is hard very hard, it may be impossible. Recognizing that God even uses my weaknesses, folly, failures and fears brings me joy and humility, as well as occasional anger that I am so needy and weak. So, I attempt to walk in the Holy Spirit, apply God's truth and sanctify/heal/do therapy on myself so I can love God and fully enjoy Him forever. This, I think, is the basis of the Next Reformation.
I close with a memory. A southern humorist whose name I forget wrote about religion in the south. He said that he was a Presbyterian but always envied the hard-core Baptists and Pentecostals. He really wanted to join up with them but just didn't have the physical strength to do everything they required so he had to settle for being a Mainline, pew-sitting Presbyterian.
Sometimes I regress back into works righteousness and get legalistic or words righteousness and get perfectionist about how I speak and the names I give to the Trinity or get back into name it and claim it, blab it and grab it. Then I can once again feel the pride and satisfaction of thinking I am really in charge of the universe. But, I just do not have the constitution for it. I wear out too easily. I admire my Grandmother who kept holiness alive for 90 years. Now that woman had a strong constitution. But me, I am weak and have to believe that God is in charge so I can rest in Him.
PS. I Gary R. Sweeten, do hereby resign from being lord of the Universe and hereafter promise to allow God to rule. (At least most of the time.)