When we lived in P.E.I. we once had a crazy thought. Now this is wild, and we are scared of throwing it out there because it is so bizarre. Well, here goes. We often talk, as believers, about what God has done for us. Webpages, blogs and books wax eloquent on the gracious, giving nature of God and how much we receive from Him.
Now think on this, for all of God’s magnanimity and Jesus’ horrific sacrifice what does God receive? I am sure we are clear on what we get from God, but what does the cost benefit analysis look like from His perspective?
One day last summer, after taking Milo for his usual morning stroll, we returned to the motel to find a woman with many bags around her car. Wanda joked that this lady packed like she did, which is all too true (sigh). Anyway, being a gregarious person, Wanda struck up a conversation with our fellow traveler. We found out the ex-husband had kicked this lady of out her house and she was now homeless. She was diabetic and had little money, so we gave her some of our food. The next day bought her an Amplified Bible. With that gift, Wanda and I prayed with, and comforted, this abandoned woman until she had to leave the motel.
Events like this are common when we walk with Jesus in obedience and faith. As we see how He leads and follow Him , we become like Jesus in thought, word and deed. This is a long, hard process but God has a purpose here. The Father desires for Jesus a Bride who reflects and carries His character. The only way to achieve this goal is to draw the believer through a wilderness and rid them of ‘self’. As ‘self’ is brought down, Jesus fills the empty void with His sacrificial nature. This means we learn to give of ourselves, no matter the cost, because His character is being formed in us.
Jesus gave up His own life for us but what does He receive for His sacrifice?
Back in P.E.I. God started us down this road where we could not see our walk of faith in terms of ‘self’. He was teaching us to see things from His perspective because He has no ‘self’. Too often we had to come back to seeing everything in our life as ‘what is in this for God?’
God was grabbing our attention away from our default focus on ‘self’ and turning it to Jesus. This wasn’t easy, but we began to understand, and then appreciate, what He was doing. By getting our focus off of ‘self’ we denied ‘self’ a platform our lives. In this way God was showing us how He sees His people.
We learned character and spiritual maturity are more important to God than religious leaders taught us to believe.
Gifts and talents come and go but character defines who a person is. What is inside of a person affects how they will behave. To God this is very important and He will go to great lengths to form His character in us.
When we visited a Bible bookstore to buy the Bible for our friend, we noticed the books and books from authors who have written about God, church and religion. We hadn’t been to a bookstore for a very long time so it was a shock for us to see this. As we wandered the aisles, we got the sense of the noise of ‘words’ bombarding believers today.
As we pondered over the useless words, we wondered how many of these authors live sacrificially as Jesus did.
We were curious if these people had the experiential authority to write about what they claimed to be authorities over. We do not know the answer nor will we ever. It appears, however, that many people have replaced a living dynamic faith of walking with God with armchair intellectualism. People are writing out of their minds rather than their experience with Jesus.
Looking at all the churches, books, webpages, conferences and media gives us the impression God only cares about gifts, talents and personalities. Slight correction. Gifts, talents and personalities are things ‘self’ cares about, not God. What God values is maturity and character.
If you read God’s Word you will see words like ‘mature’, ‘patient endurance’, ‘suffering’. They occur far more often than we like to admit but they are there. God has given us many gifts, including His Son but He is looking for something in return. What God is looking for, in His cost benefit analysis, are His people to grow up into spiritual maturity. We believe many people today have missed this point. The church has had the gifts over character perspective for far too long. We are in a time for correction in God’s cost benefit analysis.
We suggest it is time to put aside our selfish desire to ‘get’ from God and give serious attention to our relationship with Him.
Wouldn’t it be better to give up our ideas about what we ‘think’ He wants and let God speak for Himself? Jesus has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Don’t you believe it is time He receives something from our relationship with Him, something God values? Is it not time His people mature into adult sons, becoming like Jesus, living sacrificially as He did? We told you this was a crazy idea.
Homer and Wanda