Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pride? Or God's Goal For You?

In Whistleblower magazine's December, 2006 issue the topic was "The Miracle of the Bible." There are many, fabulous articles. Two of my favorites are available to read online.

1. The Passion of the Christian

2. Why I Believe the Bible

What was truly sad to me, though, was to read about the sizable statistic from a poll done by the Barna group that tells us that many young adults in the U.S. are abandoning Biblical faith. Moreover, the result of this is that these people do not believe that there is such a thing as "absolute truth."

I once attempted to reach a troubled teen boy online through instant messenger. It was a dialogue back in 2004 that occurred over the course of several days. It's very long, but if you want to read it, go here.

Just as David Kupelian points out in his article (link above), the main cause of rejection of Jesus Christ is pride. Also, the main cause of "false converts" and "nominal Christians" is holding onto such pride. In my conversations with true believers who have taken the step to "die daily" and "take up the cross and follow Jesus," the one thing that we all have in common (myself included!!) was knocking out the pride of self and replacing it with obedience.

Kupelian nails it here:

What exactly is this "creaturely self" that Christian thinkers throughout the centuries have so colorfully warned we must "slay" or "crucify" if we're to inherit the Kingdom of God?

It's self-evident that we're all born with a troublesome nature called "pride." Basically, pride is the part of us that wants to be God. It loves being praised, quickly puffs up with angry judgment over the real or perceived wrongs of others – and as a rule is oblivious to its own faults. Moreover, you can think of pride as a "life form" – a living, breathing "something" which, like any other life form or "creature," can be fed or starved. When it's fed, it grows and enlarges; when it is starved, it diminishes and dies – daily.

As our pride – also referred to as the "sin self" – diminishes and dies through our obedience to God, the direct result is that our good side, our true, God-centered character and identity enlarges.

We're not talking about matters of dogma here. Nor is this just a matter of outward behaviors and "works." So please don't e-mail me with arguments about "faith vs. works." This is about real change – about transformation – the mystical heart of the true Christian life, about "dying to the world." Not an archaic, poetic and hopelessly idealistic notion, but the very heartbeat of our everyday life, as we deal with stresses and problems ("trials and tribulations") in our lives.

Of course – and this is something of a divine paradox – as Christians, we know we can't save ourselves, and yet we are most definitely called to obedience. So, let's not slough off our responsibility to "die daily" by comfortably presuming on the unending mercy of God. His mercy is unending, indeed, but also balanced with justice, and these two seemingly contradictory qualities work together mysteriously and wonderfully toward our redemption, but only in the truly sincere human soul that doesn't tempt God.

You see, the enemy of our souls wants to distract us. He is the master of deception and knows what will "get us." Instinctively knowing our weaknesses, he often places that certain type of sin right under our noses for a get us to disobey God. This is why what Kupelian states above is so very crucial to follow in our day to day walk with Jesus!

But there is another "tool" that Satan wants to use against the true believers. Know what it is? It's the fact that he wants to get us to feel guilty about our unworthiness. Oftentimes, he whispers into the ears of unbelievers that they can't be reconciled to God. Sometimes, he accomplishes the "unworthy guilt trip" through non-believers who are out to get, mock and disparage Christians who may have had a backsliding experience in their lives.

I have found that skeptics often focus on the negative aspects of life and negative happenings in the Bible. They say things like, "well, if God is so good, why does He allow evil in the world?" Not knowing what the Bible reveals about evil entering into the world would cause people to misunderstand why it exists as well as it's purpose.

In David Jeremiah's book, Captured by Grace, he touches on the comforting promise in Romans 8:28 where we learn that God uses everything "to work together for good." But notice, of course, Paul isn't saying that it is all good.

Jeremiah writes:

The death of a loved one is never a good thing, and the Spirit of God weeps beside us at the funeral. The terrible day you had yesterday is simply a terrible day. It felt bad; it was bad. The Romans 8:28 difference is that these are bad things that God uses. They are pieces of a great jigsaw puzzle that are ugly when considered on their own; but in the final picture, they will play a part that brings glory to God and worlds for the good of the believer.

Bad things, then, remain bad. But God remains good, and He is the Lord of those bad things. He is fully capable of using them in ways that will shine with a beauty we will see one day, either in this life or next.

[W}e have His promise "that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth - in Him" (Ephesians 1:10, emphasis added).

It is a complex promise, as well. Paul looks out upon this shifting, changing, complex world and tells us that all things are working together.

Jeremiah states:

In the physical world, the right combination of otherwise harmful chemicals can produce substances that are of wonderfully positive use to us. For example, ordinary table salt is composed of two poisons: sodium and chlorine. Synergistically speaking, the final product is much better than the sum of its parts.

[Likewise] in the divine synergism, God mixes bitter herbs and spices with other tastier ingredients to create the perfect soup.

Because of free will, evil is allowed to happen. As Jeremiah states, "The greatness of God is that He gives us freedom even within the delicate movements of a universe preset to accomplish His final purposes."

If we go back to, and consider, the 20 - 30 something year olds who are abandoning the Bible in record numbers, we now see all that they are missing regarding God's purpose of life and the purpose He has prepared for each and everyone of us IN this life.

Another common objection regarding belief in the God of the Bible is when people say that "if God loves me, why do I experience bad things?" Jeremiah challenges people to wake up one morning, take a pad and pen and write down all of the good things in your life. We will soon recognize that God has loaded down your life and mine with the goodness of family, security, necessities, friends, interests, a beautiful world, and the list could go on and on. You would probably never make it out of the house! (Might be a good thing if it's a work day, too! heh heh). Realizing all of the good gifts that come from the Giver of Life makes us turn our hearts in gratitude towards Him. It all comes from Him!

Jeremiah goes on to describe that we often have the attitude of "why me" when something bad happens in our lives. But when we get great news, do we ask, "why me?" The point is, we often take the good gifts in stride, as if we fully deserve them.

Ask yourself these painful questions: Given the way we live our lives and the extent of our obedience to God, how many of these good things are we really earning? How many of the bad things are really unfair?

This is the point where the crucial act of repentance comes in. Despite our unworthiness, God reaches down to us with mercy and grace. Once this is done, we no longer need to feel guilty about our unworthiness. I'm not saying to forget our unworthiness, but God has found a way to bless us despite our unworthiness!

Jeremiah asks:

...the point is that as much as God has showered us with good things, shouldn't we trust Him with the ones that seem questionable? If your dearest friend always does nice things for you, you trust that person. How much greater trust does God deserve when He promises us that all things will eventually find their place in the machinery that brings forth what is best for us as we draw nearer and nearer to heaven?

Awesome point...don't you think?

There is also great encouragement in realizing that nothing is wasted.

How many people do you know who may have said that their younger years were wasted? I'm sure we could all relate to that! Once you become a Christian and look back over all the years that you may have spent rejecting Christ, it may appear to be wasted. But God can use EVERYTHING and turn it for good...for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Although we may look back on our lives with regret, isn't it comforting to our souls and brightening within our hearts to know that God uses every last experience in our lives to move us toward the goal He has in mind? And that goal is a good one. We can trust Him on that!

Next, I will share how Romans 8:28 is also a conditional promise. those who love God to those who are the called according to His purpose.

P.S. Through a story on K-Love radio, I heard of a man who drives around his town and gives out Bibles to people. What a great idea! We know that God's Word never returns void. Who knows how many seeds of the Gospel of salvation have been planted through the efforts of that one man?


Jonathan said...

I must say, this was absolutely an amazing blog to read. I went to this site I found by STR called "Townhall" that had an article Mr. Koukl wrote on General Pace and his recent claim about homosexuals being immoral. That's where I found you Ms. Christine and I must say, I was very impressed with what you had to say. You are definitely a spirited and incredibly intelligent person. I must agree with you on this blog except for one thing. Pride. I do believe and know that pride does make people stuck up and "self-reliant". Yet, I do not believe that pride is something we should all throw in the towel with. I believe that pride is, in essence, a good thing. I mean, there's nothing wrong with having pride in accomplishing something you've always wanted to do or never thought you could do. But pride is like alcohol. You have too much and it becomes intoxicating. And I believe that's where it becomes a problem. A lot of people don't realize how much pride they have and how much pride is taking over their lives, and that's where pride becomes dangerous.
I want you to know that I highly respect you and your opinions and I find you amazingly intelligent. Hopefully, we can keep in touch by either e-mail or instant messenger, because I would definitely like to continue talking to you about different events. My e-mail is if you can e-mail me and talk to me about different social or biblical issues or whatnot. I would be very thankful.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jonathan!

I'm so glad you found my blog! It is unfortunate that Townhall does not allow links in our comments there. But at least I was able to identify my blogspot name so you could "google" me.

I totally agree with your assessment and opinion about "pride." There is a lot of good that can come through using pride in a correct way. However, as you stated:

But pride is like alcohol. You have too much and it becomes intoxicating. And I believe that's where it becomes a problem. A lot of people don't realize how much pride they have and how much pride is taking over their lives, and that's where pride becomes dangerous.

...that is when it leads to "a fall."

We can see the difference that humbleness of heart achieves in a person who does not have that negative, "stuck-up, self-reliant" type of attitude. San Diego Charger LaDainian Tomlinson comes to mind. He was a guest speaker at the Easter service our family attended last year and he gives praise to Jesus for all that he has and has accomplished in his life. It was so exhilirating and uplifting to hear!

I would be happy to discuss social and biblical issues with you via email. I'll send you a quick note today.


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