“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 we boast 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 NIV
I hate it when people bring up these types of verses… 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 some people are selling. 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.
What people see—and more importantly, hear…
…must never deny that God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20,) while never guaranteeing more than a God who hears and answers His people when they call on Him.
Some have dressed it up by presenting a God who hears and answers His people with the answers they want to hear. Name it, claim it, and it will be yours. The person calling on God is rewarded because their faith somehow makes God do what they want Him to do. This type of glitz-and-glamour staging of the house ends up condemning those who are not wealthy, healed, or blessed by suggesting God does not act unless they possess enough faith. This form of landscaping and décor ignores the way the Bible describes how life will look as a follower of Christ, which includes references to suffering and persecution as well as laying up treasure in heaven, not on earth.
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. Unfortunately, this doctrine is often the way Christ followers choose to stage their houses and yards, insisting that this is a true representation of their life.
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), give God all the glory and let Him take over because, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the church in Ephesus, He is at work, He is powerful, and His plans are beyond what our minds can fathom:
“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, forever and ever! Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
… Don’t you want the immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine instead of the immeasurably less that you can name and claim? The décor and landscape of the Christ follower is a little messy, but with God as the footings, love as the foundation, prayer as the supporting structure, a layout that allows for more and more of God, a protective covering and wrap that stops us from being conformed to the world and enables us to be transformed by seeking to understand God’s will, we can face any mess, being comfortable that God is in control. This how we need to live, and this is how we need to present who we are to others. Let people know that we may seem to react to our current circumstances in a way that seems strange, but it is because we follow Christ.
We may appear happy when others think we should be sad…
…and hopeful when most people would assume all hope is lost. This isn’t because we assume that everything will turn out the way we want but rather that we know everything will turn out the way our perfect Heavenly Father allows. It isn’t that we are immune to the feelings that others have. It isn’t that we ignore the reality of what is going on. It’s that we, when we go through life, have someone who walks with us, someone who we can dump all our cares on, and He will give us peace.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7…
The Christ follower’s life of transformation says to those who see it…
…“Life is messy. Don’t get your shorts in a knot. Talk to God about what’s happening, let Him know what you’d like, don’t forget to thank Him for always being there for you, and you will find a peace that protects you.” No glossy photos or staged living spaces to make others think life can be perfect if I just have enough faith. No “woe is me, I am doomed to piles of dirty dishes and laundry” suffering either. Just an honest representation of how life really is and a desire to make it more presentable to the only one who really matters: God.