Friday, March 11, 2011
Do Our Mess-Ups Make God Moody?
Is God fickle? Is He a nitpicker? Can you put Him in a generous mood or make Him stingy? Is it possible that He might be the Grand Benefactor on Monday, but the Cosmic Scrooge on Tuesday?
The Corinthians wondered, and sometimes I do too.
The church at Corinth would have been my favorite place to visit. I’m not sure I would have become a member, but man, it was a happenin’ place. The members’ behavior swung wildly from wanton worldliness to high holiness and back again. They were as neat and tidy as a two year old with a bowl full of spaghetti, but they were truly alive! And sloppy. (Like me.)
Naturally, they were aware that the apostle Paul, a sort of spiritual daddy, knew all about their sloppiness. Paul knew of their ugly failures and fleshly frailties, and they were afraid that he wouldn’t come to be with them because they were often bad. “Will Paul, the one who loves us so deeply, draw away from us? Will he go somewhere else, to people who are better than us?” they might have asked. “We’re so awful—why would he want to come here?”
Knowing their fears, Paul essentially told them: “Are you kidding? I brag about you! And God fills me with grace and love toward you—how can I help but want to be with you like He does? I’m crazy about you! Didn’t I make that clear by my first letter? I did mean to come, but I was working through some personal things with God, so it wasn’t a good time for me to visit. But my heart for you is like God’s—it’s always ‘Yes!’ And that makes sense when you consider that God has secured us the same way: He has brought us into Christ, fully blessed, fully belonging to Him, with God Himself living in us as the Guarantor of what is to come. He has done it all, and He keeps doing it all! Isn’t He amazing? It was Him who sent me to you in the first place. Do you think His heart has changed toward you now that you are His? Impossible! You’re in Christ, and since that’s where you are, everything is ‘Yes!’ for you. Can I get a Corinthian ‘Amen’?” (2 Cor 1:12-2:11)
I’m glad Paul raised the Corinthian question, “Are you a moody nitpicker?” to the highest level. “God, when things don’t go according to how it seems they should, have you left me because I’ve done something wrong? Do my failures drive you away and cancel grace?” The answer is: “Never!” Weakness and failure set the table for grace—it is best seen where it is most obvious. May I remind you? This was the theme of Paul’s life—mine, too. Paul delighted in his own weaknesses and inabilities, he boasted about the insults that wounded him because he found something through them: God is forever faithful and full of grace! (2 Cor 12:8-10)
God has plenty of motivation to be with us—He doesn’t need more and He doesn’t need convincing. He’s the One who loves and behaves perfectly. Have you forgotten? I know it’s not easy to believe because it seems too fantastic! But that’s the gospel that the devil keeps trying to move you away from. If you’ve wandered away, as I sometimes do, wander back.
You and God are tight. He made it happen. Might as well enjoy.