Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Preciou$ Promi$e$

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.  We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.  These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.   2 Peter 1:3 - 4 (NLT)
I think my Mom did her most creative thinking when she was worried. 
At least that’s the memory I have, of her sitting by the living room window, awaiting the arrival of my brother.  Winter basketball practice always went past 5:00pm, and Thom would walk home in the dark.  She worried; and crocheted.  And I watched.

One very creative teaching moment came unannounced, one of those bleak winter waiting evenings.  My brother was not yet home and Mom was pushing that crochet needle at top speed.  What amazed me is how she could do that without even looking at her hands.  She had one eye on the window, the other on the clock.  It was quiet, except for the tick, tick, ticking of the clock.  Then the sound barrier came unglued….AAAaaaaargh!

I thought the Second Coming was upon us.  But Mom was just looking at her crochet project that covered her lap, shaking her head.  With her normally-pleasant expression scrunched into a scowl, she started pulling the whole thing apart.  (I learned that day that you can pull-apart three days’ of crocheting in about thirty seconds!).

I asked what was the matter and Mom said, “Stupid, stupid, stupid!  I made a mistake on the first row!!”  (She had just completed something like row #3 billion!). 

The Teachable Moment’s Lesson

It’s a lot easier to do it right the first time, than to pull it out and start over again.

This same lesson applies to our understanding of what God says, and how we apply it to our lives. 

Many in our day have “dropped a stitch” in their theology project when it comes to how to view financial blessings God entrusts to us.  The verses of 2nd Peter are my case in point.  Too many Christians see “…he has given us great and precious promises and God has given us everything we need… and fall into the trap of imagining God has given us something of a blank check to cash.  Just put your “prayer quarter” in the slot, and viola, out pops a wad of cash, or a shiny new Cadillac.

It’s known as The Prosperity Gospel – and it’s a dangerous mistake to crochet this perversion of who God is into your walk with God.  The mistake comes from taking a Bible verse out of its context and building your whole theology on a supposed “precious promise” from God.  And the problem with this is, once a believer gets it in his head that God has promised that every Christian should be healthy, wealthy and prominent in the earth….well, it’s harder to straighten that out than pulling out three days of crochet stitching.

Much better to do it right from the start

Most thinking people (who have read more than John 3:16) would agree the Bible condemns lust and greed (even nominal Christians have heard of the seven deadly sins).  Well, reading Peter’s letter past the “precious promises” portion, we see that God’s power is indeed promised to the believer, but it’s for the purpose to enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

God’s promises are not so you can “pray-up” a wad of cash for a new car, house, boat or tummy-tuck.  God’s promises are for power to withstand the pressures Satan will use to stir-up the natural/carnal appetites that are within.  Let’s face it – God knows me, and He knows you; He knows we don’t stand a chance against our own ungodly lust and greedy impulses that lie just below the surface.  So He promises His power to help us resist.

Today – a few verses to “undo some bad theological crocheting”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.   Matthew 16:24 (NLT)

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his classic book, The Cost of Discipleship, When Christ calls a man, he bids him to die.

Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”   Luke 12:15 (NLT)

Instead of dwelling on things that you don’t have (which makes you a target for Satan plucking your lust and greed strings), remember that you have a heavenly Father Who knows everything you need (Matthew 6:33), and will supply all those needs by His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

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