Thursday, 21 February 2013

Not Taking the Human Route

Abraham and Sarah, both convinced they are past it, can't see how God can fulfil His promise that they would have a son through which a great nation will be built and blessing to many will come. They are on board with the promises sure enough, but can't see how it might work out at ground level.

So Sarah suggests a plan B (Genesis 16), and Abraham obliges. It produces a son sure enough, but it wasn't what God had in mind. Anxst and upset follows, yet note how God still brings blessing through this thoroughly human effort - God graciously accommodates to our works.

In Genesis 17 God repeats the covenant deal, and re-iterates the promise that Abraham would have a son by Sarah through which the full blessing would come. But Abraham still doesn't get it! Spiritually it remains a great promise, but as per verse 18 on ground level Abraham would still take the human route.

And that's often the problem for many of us. Many of us can get on board with the spiritual stuff, but in practice we still make human contingency plans. The full blessing of God, however, comes through His provision alone given supernaturally against normal odds. Our plans and efforts by comparison don't even come close.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Simply not a Commodity II

In my last post I remarked on Job's insight that wisdom is only found in God. As Job 28 makes clear, you can't buy it or simply search for it - it is not a commodity.

Whilst this is an important concept for our own walk with God, it has mission implications too. It reminds us that our primary task is leading people to God - and that is not a commodity that can simply be bought or sold. Just as in Acts 8:18-24 a guy Simon got it so wrong in thinking that the imparting of the Spirit could be purchased, we can easily get it wrong too.

The subtlety is that as witnesses/evangelists/ministers we run the danger of getting it wrong the other way round: i.e. not that we think we can 'buy it', but somehow behave as if it is 'for sale' in some way. Not necessarily by demanding/expecting money, but perhaps by implied loyalty to us or our work, or in any number of other behind the scenes ways (quite possibly un-intentionally).

Yet to lead someone to God, to enable them to find the wisdom that Job talks of, is to ultimately set them free - free of any shackles or ties that humanity-in-its-sinfulness might inadvertently subject people to. Yes, totally free - captive to none except the love of God through Christ.

So whatever method you use, whatever you expect of people as you lead them towards God's grace, do a double-take and make doubly sure that you really are not trying to trade in some commodity or other.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Simply not a commodity I

'Everyone can be bought', so they say. Certainly our society gives the impression that anything and everything can be purchased. Wealth and accumulation then becomes the norm, the never-satisfied goal of people at all levels of society.

Yet in the Bible the lament of a person who found himself sitting despairingly with next-to-nothing conveys some incredible faith and insight: words that swim against the tide of our relentless consumerism. Job in chapter 28, despite his conditions, despite the woe he keenly feels, still declares a truth that eludes many many others:

There is something that is simply not a commodity. Something that you cannot mine from the ground, extract from the surroundings, search for, refine, or obtain with any natural process. Nor can you buy it, no matter how rich you are or how well connected, or whatever merchants you can trade with - it will remain beyond your reach.

He talks of 'wisdom'. Some deny its existence - generally those who have a one-way ticket to the 'wrong place'! Indeed it is elusive. You can't simply look around or search high and low to find it.

The deal is that only God can lead you to it. Somehow our need for it is inextricably linked with creation itself - but you only find it in the creator, not the created.

Wisdom ... is found in God. End of.