Saturday, March 16, 2013
The Benefits of Being A Mess With God
Those who have gotten angry at God and expressed it—however sloppily, because it’s never neat and tidy when you’re telling God how He’s messed up your life, right?—well, you discovered something afterward, something odd and unexpected: you felt better. Not immediately. There was a cooling down and a coming to your senses first, and maybe some embarrassment. After all, “I just chewed-out God!” But you began to feel better, at peace, even loved by God all over again, with nothing wrong between the two of you. Strange, wasn’t it?
Why did you feel better? It’s not because, phew! You finally got that off your chest and emptied out your bag of fury. That’s not why. You felt better because you gave your attention to God, you directed yourself and what you were experiencing—as ugly and unrefined as it was—to God who lives in you. And God produced in you what He is like with you. Even if you didn’t think, “Hmm. Christ is in me. I ought to have a talk with Him,” He knows where He is, and He behaves Himself from there.
You accidentally approached God like a crazy, out-of-control lunatic. And God did what He always does with crazy people who come to Him—He cared for you, He calmed and loved you, without even a hint that He was bothered with you, or that He expected more of His little lunatic. Did you notice? Jesus shepherded you from the inside. See? He really thinks that when you received Him, you received Him. He moved in! Had a heavenly party and everything. He’s home in you, and He’s making it obvious. Right?
This describes what the New Testament calls, “offering yourself to God,” or “sowing to the Spirit,” with the foundation that God now lives in you. The offering or the sowing to God is not to “God out there,” or to “God who will meet me over there”, when I finally make it, or when I finally arrive. No. Your offering is to “God in here” now, to “God who has arrived in you.” This is the gospel. Even if you don’t know that God was actually serious about making new dwellings for Himself, a whole new way of housing, He’s carrying on from where He is right now. And you noticed. You felt Him, you felt better because He got to work—He got to work you.
The old way of offering yourself to God, the old covenant way, was to think of yourself as separate from God, who would lead you because He was “ahead of you” or “over there,” and calling you to come with Him. The pressure was on you to follow, and to keep following. The new covenant way of offering your self to God, is to believe what God knows to be true for all who have received Him: “Jesus, you and I are together now; you’re in me. I don’t have to look for you over there, or just up ahead, because now you’re in here all the time. . .being yourself with me. You and I are at home together. What an amazing place to have and to find you.”
Do you see the difference? God is not “over there,” watching, evaluating, and hoping you do well. He is in you, happy and content with His new surroundings, able to do anything and everything that confronts Him in and the arena the two of you share.
This all means that you’re free to explore the goodness and ability of Jesus for you in the same way as when He walked among us—however you look, whatever you do, whatever you feel, however it comes out—like when you’re a crazy, mad man. . .like the ones He loved and set free at Gadarenes; or like when you’re plagued by powerful longings and lust and fall to it, perhaps again and again. . .and are loved and forgiven by Jesus, just like the woman at the Mount of Olives; or like when you deny Jesus over and over because it seems, well, useful in the moment. . .like it did to Peter long ago, whom Jesus sought out and loved, like he (and you) hadn’t done anything offensive.
That’s our Jesus. And He is in you, perfect with you, no matter what.
Christ in you is your hope. Finding Him at home with you is the best of life. I’ll bet you’ve found or felt Him there already. So don’t be afraid to look for Him at even the worst moments, the ugliest and most “un-Christianly.” He’s pretty good with lunatics. Right?
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “The Benefits of Being A Mess With God,” and is for those who would rather read than watch.