Saturday, June 16, 2007

Knowing God: The adequacy of God

This ime, I will just be posting the excerpts, without comments. I'm sure they will suffice, and I hope they will minister to all of us who read it.

None of this [the call to discipleship], of course, is strange to any of us. We know what kind of life Christ call us to; we often preach and talk to each other about it. But do we live it? Well, look at the churches. Observe the shortage of ministers and missionaries, especially men; the luxury goods in Christian homes; the fund-raising problems of Christian societies; the readiness of Christians in all walks of life to grumble about their salaries; the lack of concern for the old and lonely, or indeed for anyone outside the circle of 'soud believers'.

We are unlike the Christians of New Testament times. Our approach to life is conventional and static; theirs was not. The thought of 'safety first' was not a drag on their enterprise as it is on ours. By being exuberant, unconventional, and uninhibited in living by the Gospel they turned their world upside down, but you could not accuse us twentieth-century [now 21st century] Christians of doing anything like that. Why are we so different? Why, compared with them, do we appear as no more than half-way Christians? Whence comes the nervous, dithery, take-no-risks mood that mars so much of our discipleship? Why are we not free nough from fear and anxiety to allow ourselves to go full stretch in following Christ?

One reason it seems is that our heart of hearts we are afraid of the consequences of going the whole way into the Christian life. We shrink from accepting burdens of responsibilities for others because we fear we should not have strength to bear them. We shrink from accepting a way of life in which we forfeit material security because we are afraid of being left stranded. We shrink from being meek because we are afraid that if we do not stand up for ourselves we shall be among life's casualties and failures. We shrink from following Christ because we fear that if we did, the established structure of our life would collapse all round us, leaving us without a footing anywhere.

It is these half-conscous fear, this dread of insecurity, rather than any deliberate refusal to face the cost of following Christ, which make us hold back. We feel that the risk of out-and-out discipleship are too great for us to take. In other words, we are not persuaded of the adequacy of God to provide for all the needs of those who launch out whole-heartedly on to the deep sea of unconventional living in obedience to the call of Christ. ...

Now, let us call a spade a spade. The name of the game we are playing is unbelief, and Paul's 'He will give us all things' stands as an everlasting rebuke to us. Paul is telling us that there is no ultimate loss or irreparable impoverishment to be feared; if God denies us something, it is only in order to make room for one or other of the things He has in mind. Are we, perhaps still assuming that a person's life consists, partly at any rate, in the things he possesses?


Yet, when it comes to cheerful self-abandonment in Christ's service we dither. Why? Out of unbelief, pure and simple.



Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful to you, and adequate for you. You will never need more than He can supply, and what He supplies, both materially and spiritually, will always be enough for the present. 'No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly' (Ps. 84:11, RSV). 'God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it' (1 Cor. 10:13, RSV). 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Cor. 12:9). Think on these things! - and let your thoughts drive out your inhibitions in serving your Master.

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