The point of Christianity is to bring us back to the relationship we are supposed to have with God. First we need to realize that this is not primarily something we do, it is something we must experience. We can hear about God’s love but until we need it, it seldom has a significant impact on us. Here is where God uses the law as a pedagogue to bring us to where we feel the need for a savior and the need for a different covenant in which to change.
Having said that, if we have gotten to the point where we are seeking to walk with God according to the new covenant, we need to understand what that means. God gives us, in the Bible, statements or promises, that, if properly put together create a perspective (resting in God's love and care) that inspires, peace, joy and love. Those qualities then motivate good works. If that motivation is not there, all our strivings for change will be pointless.
So, first off we need to connect with God’s love, for His love inspires trust which takes hold of His promises, creating the perspective we need to grow. The Bible says that we must draw near to God and He will draw near to us (Jms 4:8). Let’s put that in a different way. The Holy Spirit is everywhere. What we need to do is focus on connecting with God while ignoring all those things that distract us.
When Elijah was in the desert, having fled from Jezebel (I Kgs 19:11), God dazzled him with a great earthquake, a raging wind and a fire but He was not in those manifestations. He then spoke to Elijah in a whisper. That is the way it is when we seek to connect with God. We must quiet our life to the point where we can experience His quiet presence.
Then we must take God at His word and make His promises our reality by choosing to believe what He says. Your feelings will go this way and that, you must refuse to trust them. Fix your eyes on His love, hold on to His word, with your will, until your feelings settle down.
The center of our Christian life is connecting with God, experiencing His love and care with respect to what is going on in our lives. Each day we need more or less of God’s compassion, understanding, patience, unconditional acceptance, protection, support, guidance and respect for our freedom. I say, more or less, because some days we really need His support while others we need more of His compassionate understanding. Some days we need Him to be our celestial shrink and others just to be there for us.
Dorthy Nolte wrote a poem about the law of spiritual cause and effect. We tend to REFLECT what we experience. This is part of that poem.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition,
he learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with sharing,
he learns about generosity.
If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
he learns what truth and justice are.
If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.
If a child lives with friendliness,
he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.
If you live with serenity,
your child will live with peace of mind.
We need to turn our minds, as mirrors, toward the amazing love of God. We will reflect what we experience. What are the attitudes you experience from God? Are they correct?
One of the most critical aspects to this spiritual perspective is the fact that God promises to work ALL THINGS together for our good (Rm 8:28). Speaking of our circumstances (all things) Hannah Smith says, “He may not have ordered them, but He is in them somewhere, and He is in them to compel them to work together for our good. The 'second causes' of the wrong may be full of malice and wicked-ness, but faith never sees second causes. It sees only the hand of God behind the second causes. They are all under His control, and not one of them can touch us except with His knowledge and permission. The thing itself that happens cannot perhaps be said to be the will of God, but by the time its effects reach us they have become God’s will for us and must be accepted as from His hands.”
This should inspire us to “let go and let God”. We can now rest in His care. Rest (peace) is meant to be the center of the Christian life.
However, our lives are full of choices. If we have peace, joy and love in our hearts, that spirit will motivate our actions. Now, right and wrong have their place. They give direction to our motives.
Our spirit (inner attitude) is defined by our perspective, the way we see things. “In fact, just as courage is faith in good, (perspective) so discouragement is faith in evil; and while courage opens the door to good, discouragement opens it to evil.” H. Smith. Our perspective is defined by what we have faith in. If we have faith in God’s love and ability to care for us, our perspective will be positive which will inspire good choices.
This story helps illustrate the importance of our perspective. Elisha had been telling the king of Israel where the king of Syria was setting ambushes for him and was thus able to avoid them. The Syrian king was furious about this and when he heard that Elisha was in Dothan he sent his army by night to capture him. When Elisha’s servant woke up the next morning, he saw the Syrians surrounding the city and was terrified. He woke Elisha up, who had a very different perspective. He knew that he was safely in the hands of God. He asked God to open his servant’s eyes and his servant saw that, in fact, the Syrian army was surrounded by the army of heaven (II Kgs 6:8).
As life brings us choices, they will be motivated by our perspective. To encourage the right perspective we don’t necessarily have to be actively thinking about God. However, it is important that we have spent time contemplating God’s love in our lives. Someone said that it's like glancing at the sun, when we turn our eyes away, its image will be everywhere we look.
If we get to the point where we can rest in God's care, we need to know how to appropriately deal with our choices. If we have chosen to follow God, our choices will point us to a more significant choice. We can either focus on doing the right thing or we can focus on what it's like to follow Jesus. Is He hard nosed and demanding or does He give me the freedom to make choices when I'm ready to.
In the old covenant our choices were the point. The focus was on doing the right thing. In the new covenant our choices focus us on God and the nature of our relationship with Him.
God gives us the time we need to make choices. He does not pressure us. Look at Jacob and Samson. They were both very flawed individuals. God was patient and waited for them to grow in faith. The key is who they were walking with. It is our perspective, how we see God's love, that changes us, not our efforts to change, so lighten up.
Our performance can also be looked at like the part of an iceberg you can see. However, nine tenths of it are under water. It is that nine tenths that are the foundation for what you see. Spiritually speaking, it is the nine tenths, contemplating the nature of God's love and care, that motivate our choices. It is this with which we should be primarily involved if we want goodness in our lives.
You have three choices. Ignore God and the flesh will rule. Focus on obeying God and you will become religious. Experience God's grace and you will bear the fruit of peace, joy and love. Love is the obedience that fulfills the law (Rm 13:10).
The more you ponder the love of God, the more you will see it. The more you see it, the more you will trust God with your life, creating peace. The more peace you have, the more love you will have. This is the life giving cycle of spiritual growth.
Copyright, Patrick Fagenstrom, 6/2017, edited 6/18.