This isn’t new, but maybe that’s why we miss it sometimes. When people are relatively unopposed spiritually, they don’t often see that as the grace He gives as they grow in Him and learn from mistakes. They tend to think of that as God’s endorsement of whatever they’re doing. In the American church, if there is numerical and financial growth, that’s considered God’s stamp of approval on all their programs and plans. And when God demonstrates His glory, they build structures and systems based on people’s responses to those events, because that’s obviously God’s plan for packing them in so they can build that big sanctuary.
Change is an integral part of life, so it shouldn’t surprise us. But it does. We like the security of believing that our lives will be tomorrow what we expect them to be. But when they aren’t anything like that, it throws us, because our faith has become attached to circumstances, and not to the nature and character of God. The only changes we like are the ones we’ve planned for, especially the ones that equal us to, or better us than, the people to whom we compare ourselves. But many of the changes that are occurring in the world right now are unpredictable, and seem much more Cecelia in magnitude (you know- breaking your heart and shaking your confidence daily).
If people have come to believe that God only blesses exceptional performance, then when things don’t go as expected, they may also believe that God is punishing poor performance. Maybe not theirs, but someone’s. There’s a tendency to see the Lord as angry, displeased, a volcano-god that needs to be appeased by condemning the guilty and throwing them in. I’m not talking about simple sowing and reaping, I mean an angry God who is unapproachable, unknowable, and for whom nothing you do is pleasing. This isn’t about eschatology per se, but most generations interpret difficult seasons as a sure sign of the end. They see God unleashing Babylon, and the enemy allowed to bring his Last Days onslaught.
I do not believe God sends disasters and diseases and death to teach people lessons. You may not agree, but that is not the heart of the Father that I see in Jesus- not in the Word, and not in my experience. The world is broken, and bad stuff happens because it is. He has largely chosen to work through His people to fix much of it. I know, I scratch my head at that decision sometimes, too. Romans 8.19 actually says that “creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” We can argue about what that fully means, but it certainly seems like we have an important role in His will to bless and heal this world.
So, just a thought. What if God’s people stop doing things that are in synch with how He wants to bring His Good News? What if they stop blessing, and healing, and offering grace to the world, and start focusing on the growth of their own fiefdoms instead of His kingdom? What happens when they see more problems than answers? What is God’s response to that?
Though He does not afflict people, what if some of the crazy shakings going on in the world He is allowing…not as a furious entity, but as a loving Father, to remind us what is really Him, and to recognize what isn’t. What if He is shaking everything that can be, so that you become more secure in Him, not less. What if the changes we see in the world are an invitation to His grace to restore you to see yourself and the world as He does? What if we aren’t seeing the rise of Babylon, but God dealing with Babel- with the rise of the structures and systems we have been building on our own? What if in His love for us, He is undoing them before they undo us? What if He isn’t unleashing hell against a fallen world, but trying to unleash us?
Christians are posting so much negativity about September. Personally, I don’t buy into it as the beginning of the end. I still remember being a young Bible College student nervous about the book, “88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988”. Boy, was that a bust. I was so looking forward to not having to pay my school bills. But suppose something negative did happen in the nation or world. There are over seven billion people, and many of them are a surly lot. Something evil is always brewing, whether it’s this September or fifty Septembers from now. For many believers, their Babel-thinking will interpret it as God’s righteous retribution. What if instead of seeing the evil that people choose as a judgment that you sit back and tremble at, you see the opportunity that it is to invade the darkness with what God has been putting in you for so long?
What have you been learning in church? To become an expert judge? To see the world as the devil’s playground? To hide and protect yourself from evil? Or have you been in training with the Holy Spirit, and you see difficult situations as the perfect opportunities to release the love, grace, hope, joy, peace, courage, kindness, goodness, and wisdom He’s been building in you?
“He rescued me, because He delights in Me. Then He trained my hands for war.” (Psalm 18)