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Monday, 13 October 2014

Is vs Does.

I have a question for you. How do you approach God? What is the fundamental basis of your relationship with him?

Is your view of God determined by; Who He Is, or by What He Does?

Well, what's the difference? You may well ask, and I'm glad you did. Because I suspect the answer, has a lot to do with why many people fall away from their Christian faith. I also believe it is the by-product of so much faulty faith teaching. It is the poor foundation of so many coming to Jesus, because they believe, or were promised, that Jesus would "do" something for them.

It is also the basis of a great many religions. They tell us that we have to do something, in order for god to do something. We have to vie for his attention, and then we may get a favourable response, a reward, maybe, if he can be bothered. In other words, if we don't do something for god, then he doesn't do anything for us. So now the focus comes back to our actions. Did we pray enough, was the offering too small, should we have fasted longer, was our faith weak?

In other words if we don't perform for God, then He doesn't do anything for us. Isn't this just some sort of fairy tale Santa Claus faith? Where good behaviour/performance brings a reward, while poor behaviour/performance . . .
This kind of thinking plunges us into doubt, self condemnation, feelings of unworthiness. So we try even harder right? Yet nothing changes.

Faith based on God's response to our actions becomes self centred. "I" didn't get healed. "I" didn't get the promotion. "I" don't have a spouse. God didn't speak to "ME". Now God "OWES ME" something.
So if God didn't act, has he then done something wrong to us? Are we now His victims? Wallowing in feelings of resentment and injustice? And doesn't this sort of thinking govern our view of sin also? If we see God purely through the prism of what He does, then we expect judgement and retribution. Then we get that tired old mantra raising it's ugly faithless head.

"How can a loving God do . . ." You can fill in the blanks yourself, you've heard it often enough.

So, what if our faith is based, not on what God does, but on who He is? After all God revealed Himself to Moses, not as the God who does, but the God who is. The "I AM".

Because this is the true foundation of our faith.

Hang on wait, wasn't the work of the cross something He did?
Yes, but it was done because of who He is. God is Love. He loves us, because he is love. And that makes all the difference to our faith. Because while God has a sovereign will, He cannot act independently of  who He is. His Nature and Character are unchanging. Not only that, the work of the cross was a paradigm shift. It revealed a new facet of God's character. Prior to the cross, the idea of a sacrifice was in fact the very problem we're dealing with here. Those sacrifices, a common enough practise in the Ancient Near East, were made to obtain favour, to appease a god, to get something from a god. The work of the cross was a reversal of this practise. The cross appeased God's own demand for judgement, and it was done to show favour towards us. He bore the cost Himself. Because of who He is. It was done, not to get something from us, but to give something to us. Grace, mercy, forgiveness, favour, eternal life.

So if our faith is based on who God is, rather than what He does, then it doesn't change us does it?
If one gets healed but another doesn't, if one gets promoted ahead of us, we continue to go through a trial, seemingly without end. Let us not forget, Daniel was thrown into the lion's den. The Hebrew slaves were thrown into the fire. Joseph was a captive, a slave, a prisoner falsely accused. But all of them, their faith was unshaken. Not because of what God did, but because of who he is.

This then is what true faith is. It is an unshakeable relationship with a living God. Not based on what He may or may not do. But on who He is.