Summary: Although we all must live under the principle that we reap what we sow, God is a God who reaps where He does not sow and gathers where He did not spread seed. He will generously offer us mercy and grace.
“The Good & Beautiful God:
God Is Generous”
February 6th, 2011
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)
> Have you ever felt like you were an outcast, an outsider, like you didn’t belong.
> When I was a kid in elementary school, I wasn’t very athletic. I loved playing sports, but I was chubby and slow. I remember standing in a lineup of kids while the team captains would pick one kid after another. There were many times when I was one of the last kids picked.
> As I grew older, I became more athletic. I grew taller, thinner and stronger. I can still remember the first time I was picked first. It was one of the greatest feelings in my life. That was a banner day!
> It is painful to be an outsider, an outcast, a nobody. We all want to be somebody. We all want to be wanted, we all want to have a purpose.
> In this world, we quickly learn that you have to earn your place in the world. If you want to be somebody, you have to work to earn your place:
If you want to be an athlete, you have to work hard and earn a spot on the team.
If you want to be a Rhodes Scholar, you have to work hard, get the grades, and earn your honors.
If you want to be rich, you have to spend time at the office, work to get noticed, and earn your money.
If you want to be famous, you have to earn it.
> Parents, at an early age, train their children that they are rewarded for good behavior, straight A’s, and talent. Children are often berated for pour performances, punished for bad behavior, and scolded because of disappointing grades.
> Early on in our life we buy into the world’s narrative that says, “Belonging is based on value and value is based on performance.” If you perform admirably, you will belong. But if you perform unsatisfactorily, you are considered an outcast.
> This narrative has been projected onto God as well. It is difficult not to project this narrative onto God. After all, God himself gave us the Ten Commandments and told us to, “be ye holy, for I am holy.”
> Christianity is rife with the narrative that, in order to belong, you must work to earn your favor.
> As James Bryan Smith writes…
“If God were our parent, he would withhold his love, just as our parents did when we behaved badly (“Go to your room, no dinner for you!”). If God were our teacher, we would get an “F”. If God were our judge, the verdict would be “Guilty as charged.” Guilt, fear, shame and the huger for acceptance become the primary motivators in our performance-based culture. (Smith, “Good and beautiful…, pg. 78)
> I grew up with a great deal of fear and trembling. I, like most Christians, have heard the terrible question, “if you died tonight, would God let you into His heaven?” Ronda and I were reflecting on the old scary movies, “A Thief In The Night” and “Distant Thunder,” about the second coming of Christ.
> It was the evangelistic method of the 70’s and 80’s to scare people into heaven.
> I have to admit that it all depends on the day for me. Some days I’m in and some days I’m out.
> Over the past week I have wrestled with this narrative. It has been so deeply ingrained in my psyche that it is impossible to set it aside.
> I have had to ask myself, “what is the truth here?” “Do I read everything in scripture with a false presupposition?” Or, “could there be dual narratives that are not incompatible?”
> Do we all agree that everything we read is not necessarily accurate or truthful?
> Are you able to read a book and disagree with what it says?
> In addition, are you willing to read a book and wrestle over what you read. No author should believe that they have cornered the truth. Even James Bryan Smith would agree that he might not have everything exactly right.
> Today, I wrestle with two primary questions that I think every Christian needs to wrestle with:
First, are my presuppositions so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I am unable to see the truth if it is in contradiction with my presupposition?