A Little Understanding – “How-to” Do Life Books
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And weboast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
I hate it when people bring up these types of verses…
…Add; God working all things together for the good of those who love Him and references to people being tortured and killed for their faith and you have, as they said in the 60’s and 70’s, “such a buzzkill”
The truth is I want verses that tell me whatever I ask for I get.
Name it, claim it, and it’s mine. I want to read books that tell me following Christ leads to wealth and happiness, health and prosperity. I want to hear that the décor of a Christ follower is like the pictures in decorating magazines, no mess or dirt just clear sailing from the day you follow Christ to the day you enter the kingdom. Sadly these are lies we have been sold. It is a staging just like they do to sell you a house. Somewhere under the polished décor, somewhere under the out of context scriptures, is the reality that no one lives this way.
In the “how-to” do life book category, there are two types of books.
The first is aimed at focusing people on God, addressing the day-to-day things that a Christ follower experiences. This type of book never denies God can do immeasurably more while never guaranteeing more than a God who hears and answers His people when they call on Him.
The second type of “how-to” do life book also promises a God who hears and answers His people when they call on Him. The difference is the God in the second type of book answers His people with the answers they want to hear. The person calling on God is rewarded because their faith somehow makes God do what they want Him to do. This type of book often condemns those who are not wealthy, healed or blessed by suggesting God does not act unless they possess enough faith…These books ignore references to suffering and persecution as well as laying up treasure in heaven not on earth because, let’s face it, that type of messiness isn’t it a good way to market their brand of doctrine.
Only in Western culture could you take the American dream…
…and rework it from, “you can do anything you put your mind to” into an, “if you have enough faith you can get God to do anything you want” doctrine. This doctrine is not an idea that you will find in the Bible unless you read only a few verses and skip the rest. This idea of wealth, prosperity and health for Christ followers is usually presented in first world countries.
You won’t see these types of books smuggled into China or handed out in the streets of a third world country. Actually maybe you would, after all doesn’t everyone want the American dream? If somehow we can make Christ following look like it is the way to realize the American dream, maybe we can get a lot more people to become Christ followers. What a great marketing tool, but half-truths and distortions usually are.
For the younger generation the idea of a pendulum may need some explanation…
A pendulum is that thing that looks like an upside down lollipop hanging in the window of a grandfather clock. It swings back and forth as part of the timekeeping mechanism… The reason I bring up the pendulum is because it swings from the farthest point on one side to the furthest point on the other and then back again. It is a great metaphor for the reactions that people often have to Christian “how-to” do life books.
One author presents God as a give you what you want if you have enough faith type of God, while another swings all the way to the other side suggesting that we should accept poverty and sickness as God given and unchangeable. Here’s my view of the pendulum. If it’s a clock, make sure it keeps swinging, if it’s your reaction to “how-to” books, make sure it stays centred, never swinging back and forth.
The décor of the Christ follower should look more like this;
…name it – claim it – and let God be God. Do not accept your current situation as unchangeable – do not expect your current situation to change. Tell God the problem (as if He doesn’t know already) – be open with Him about the solution you want to see (He already knows that too) – let God take over.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21
Whether God does it your way (which really means the way you want happens to be His way), God goes a completely different way, or some type of hybrid, His power is at work and He will do more than you could even conceive. Don’t you want the immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine instead of the immeasurably less that you can name and claim?
Stay tuned A Little Understanding – Landscape and Décor part 5 will be posted in April 2020.
From time to time my blog will include abridged excerpts from my book “Blueprint.” Like any author/blogger, I find it difficult to leave the words I have written in my computer until a publisher can be found. Maybe it’s because someone somewhere needs to read these words now.
For more excerpts and quotes from my book Blueprint find the heading “Categories” on the right side of this page and click on “Blueprint (my book)”