Friday, November 8, 2013

There and Back Again: My Journey to the Other Side of Functional Deism Part II

Back Again

I began to wonder “What makes me so sure it is God I am hearing?” I began to think 
“God only speaks through the Bible– which I cannot fully understand,” and finally “I am alone, and I use an imagined voice of God to get what I want.” 
Part of what’s so tricky is that it is plausible that any one of us might misunderstand the Bible or dearly want to believe that wishful thinking is a special word from God. 

So how do you know if it’s actually God speaking to you and not your subconscious? 
We know God lives in us by the fruit of obedience and by his Spirit in us. 

We know that God does not lie. He will not contradict himself. Scripture and God’s individual words to us will agree. Numbers 23:19 God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

We know that the consequences of acting upon God’s words to us will be in keeping with Scripture: Not to say that the consequences will always be easy, but that they will be good and not evil. 

Those are the hallmarks, but to really recognize the Shepherd’s voice you have to spend a lot of time with him. 

Unfortunately I was not using reason, I was listening to lies. The delivery methods for some of these destructive messages were very painful, and the pain covered up the growth of loneliness in my heart until it was tough and strong. It has been years, but the seed was planted and watered and the fruit of deism in my life is worry. Worry was what really got my attention.

Worry Wart 
There was a time, even as an adult and a parent, when people talked about the burden of worry and  I could sympathize, but not relate. I did experience anxiety at times, but for the most part my anxiety felt primarily chemical. 
Worry is a little different for me. It’s a nagging feeling I keep returning to, generally about a question I have no answer for. 
Lately I have had a little growl in the pit of my stomach, a little dirty feeling when the questions rise unbidden. It comes down to meeting a “gray area” where there is no universal rule and attacking it to find a black and white answer. Oh, stubborn heart! Try as I might there are no mentions of perfect immunization schedules in Scripture, nor is there a dress code spelled out. Those are two things that have oddly hounded me. Of course I have prayed about it. Of course I have gone back to the Scriptures, but do you know what I mean when I say praying can feel like worrying? The Bible is no talisman to ward off the troublesome feelings that wear like a bur in your sock. I needed my Father to get to the heart of it.

Cure for Warts
God did just that. He didn’t answer my questions about shots or shoes, he asked me if I trust him. 
Lord, you know I do, that’s why I am asking! 
Then why are you looking for rules instead of asking me about things? Why do you think I won’t answer? I am talking to you now! That discussion leader. If she doesn’t think that people can see me in you, does that make it true? It’s time to stop believing what other people have to say, and believe my voice.    

Here are some verses God brought to my mind that night as he spoke to me in the car. For the actual verse, click the reference.  

Romans 5:8 At my most unlovely and unworthy, he rescued me. 

II Peter 1:3 God’s power has given me everything I need for life and godliness. What else is there, really? 

II Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. 

Ephesians 4:30 I am sealed by His Spirit as a deposit of my redemption. 

I Peter 2:9 I am a member of a royal priesthood and a holy nation, a people set apart for his glory. 

John 10:27-28 I can hear his voice and know him and follow him. Nothing can separate us. 

It was time to reject the lies and embrace the truth. Worry hasn’t come knocking on my door since then.

Now What?
It may be out of the ordinary for Christians to live in the freedom of a conversational walk with God, but it was never meant to be exceptional. Walking and talking with God is part of what we lost in the garden of Eden, and one thing we gain through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Our communion isn’t perfect yet, but that is no reason to hold back. If God lives within us speaking to us and through us personally in the moment, we should expect –if God is who he claims to be– that it would be ELECTRIFYING! Electrifying and attractive! Weird in the best way, and very powerful! You would expect that a believer brimming with Christ would be different from anyone else– even from other believers– radically, and from the inside out. The apostles certainly weren’t a homogenous bunch. They had different strengths, weaknesses, passions, and callings. Close communication with God brings out each believer’s unique reflection of our infinite God.  

Walking with God in this way strikes at the heart extremes of practicing deism as mentioned in Part I. A conversational walk with God tosses out the human measures of goodness and badness. Think of how Jesus cleared the temple with a whip, but scattered the crowd that wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. He was constantly doing the opposite of the Pharisees’ rule keeping while honoring his Father. So you might think that Jesus abolished the standards and opened up a lot of gray. He didn’t. When you are living in dependance on God there is no such thing as a truly gray area. When you get right up close to life with him as your lens you can usually see shades clearly as situations arise. He can tell you. This approach is more delicate than striking every issue of life into broad black and white categories from the get-go or using the gray areas as a land of everlasting procrastination. It requires trust and communication. Jesus demonstrated radical dependance on God. 
Can you imagine if the Church rose up and lived Christ’s extreme? It would turn the world upside down. Are you ready? He is. 

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