Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Exaggerations and Expectations


Exaggerations and Expectations

The fish was thiiiiiiiiis big. I'll die if that happens. You're the best person in the world. You can be anything you want to be. And everyone lived happily ever after. Or so the story goes...

We exaggerate. A ton. It's in our nature. Even Eve did it. In Genesis 2:17, God commanded Adam "not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” When the serpent prompted Eve, saying "Did God really say?," Eve added to the command that they must not even touch the fruit. 

When Eve exaggerated, even just that little bit, she also distorted God's expectations. Suddenly, Eve determined that God wouldn't just kill her if she ate it, He would end her life if she even touched it. God seemed even more unfair, making it even easier for Satan to further twist Eve's understanding of God and His will.

Isn't this how it still goes? We know that Satan is a liar. But we forget that exaggeration is a type of lying. Which means we forget that Satan will use exaggeration to shake us up and make us question God and what God expects of us.

Think about some of the ways that exaggeration is used to warp our view of the Lord and His will. From example, how we read "wives submit to your own husbands" and somehow think all women have to submit to all men. There are plenty of spiritual and social ramifications borne of that exaggeration.

Or, consider how often we determine that God's Word is an exaggeration, like when we say that God's consistent condemnation of sexual immorality is outdated or intended only for a certain generation, instead of being absolute. We even add clauses and carefully debate the definition of terms like sexual immorality to change the expectations God has set for us.

Yet God is clear on the matter: "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it" (Deuteronomy 4:2).  "As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true" (2 Samuel 22:31).

When we trust in the Lord -the person of the Lord as revealed through His Word, Work, and the Holy Spirit- we don't need to exaggerate to know what to do, to justify ourselves, or to understand God. And when we forget that and let those little, tiny inflations alter our view, our vision gets cloudy. 

A lot of other things do too:

It's easy for us to feel like God isn't holding up His end of the bargain when we add to His promises -like when we slap a deadline on His provision.

Likewise, it's easy for us to feel like we can't live up to God's expectations of us when we make them so much harder for ourselves or make God so much meaner and less gracious than He is.

Add in the times that we exaggerate the power God that has given to Satan or to us, making God small and our problems looking reaaallly huge.

Or, the instances in which we miss out on blessings and spiritual opportunities because we assume God's Word is exaggerated, so we gossip and swear until our witness is nil.

The world isn't too big. Our sin isn't too much. His expectations aren't too high. 

And the Lord isn't too small. His Word isn't too loose or confined by the times. And we aren't too broken or unrighteous to be redeemed by His blood.

Isn't that good news? 

"let them come to me for refuge;
let them make peace with me,
yes, let them make peace with me." -Isaiah 27:5

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." -John 14:27

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you." -2 Thessalonians 3:16

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

3. Our Perfectionist God


How overdue this post is! I've actually been trying to write it for months. But the words are never quite right. I can't seem to proclaim as loudly or neatly as I want to this wonderful truth:


And not perfect like we think of perfect...

We say "perfect" when things are convenient. God's timing is more than convenient.
We say "perfect" when something fits together really well. God's unifying work is more than that.
We say "perfect" when the highest standards we set are met. God IS the standard.

What's amazed me most recently is that both God's intentions and His actions are perfect. 

So often we do things that end up hurting someone or failing...BUT we meant well. 

Like when I make all sorts of plans for my husband after work so we can have tons of fun because I love him and want him to have fun (but he ends up feeling more stressed and tired because he really needed quiet time.) Or, when I say something that comes out sounding insulting (but I mean it as a compliment.) Or, when someone gives me a hug (but squeezes too tight and it hurts.)

It's just as often that we do something that makes someone happy or works out for good...but we meant ill. 

Like when I nicely clean up the whole apartment (just to point out to my poor husband that I did all that work and he didn't.) Or when I give someone a vague compliment that makes them feel good (but that I actually meant very critically.)

You get the picture. 

That's not how it is with our Lord. When He means something for good, His will is perfect AND He does what is good, because His way is also perfect.

What does Scripture tell us about the unified, genuine, unchanging perfection of God?

-His works are perfect, He does no wrong (Deut 32:4)
-His way and His Word are flawless (2 Sam 22:31)
-His knowledge and all that flows from it is perfect (Job 36, 37)
-His law is perfect for what it is designed for: reviving and shaping (Psalm 19:7)
-His faithfulness and resulting plans are perfect (Isaiah 25:1)
-His beauty and splendor is perfect (Ezekiel 16, 27, 28)
-His gifts are perfect (James 1:17)
-His will in all things is perfect (Romans 2:2)
-His power is perfect, without any contribution (2 Corinthians 12:9)
-His love is perfect and casts out fear (1 John 4:18)
-His work in our lives makes our path perfect (Psalm 18:32)
-His person in Christ perfects us (Col 1:28, Matt 5:48)
-His perfection and the perfection through which He creates, revives, and works are forever (Hebrews 10:14)

Lord where can I look
When every view I find
Is darkened, obscured, and surely tainted by lies?
When the best that I’ve found
Has an end to itself and there’s still a gap
But somehow we’re bound in it?
Lord, I praise you
That when my eyes search you out,
You’re enough, you unify perfectly
This broken, sinful world and all of its content,
Simply because you are.

I can look to you, Perfect LORD. 
What a sight for sore eyes.