2006-10-02

Do We Love God More than Legitimate Blessings?

Religion is Rules for Getting Blessings for Self
Religion is a set of rules with 'Self' at its center. 
The core of religion is self
  1.  I want to be blessed and to reach utopia - eternal happiness. 
  2. Then comes the set of rules where I can follow to get blessings.
  3. I follow the rules to make life work, to ward off danger and to preserve my eternal life. 
  4. Doing the right thing and getting thing right is the main activity.
Religion is really the mixing up of priority - Putting ourselves ahead of God.
Success in religion is measured by the 'blessings' or 'enlightenment' one has. 
  1. It leads to pride if one thinks he has succeeded and 
  2. to depression if he thinks he has failed. 
  3. If things go wrong, one's first reaction is usually - "What do I need to do to get it right?".
    With such mentality, it is no wonder we can't fully understand the Book of Job.
The Theme of Job - Not about Suffering but about True Love of God - God above All Else
The key theme of JOB is not just about suffering but about our trust of God. 
More specifically, each of us have to answer this key question "- "Is our love of God greater than our materials blessings?". It is similar to our denying of self to gain Christ. i.e. For the sake of seeking Christ I am willing to give up everything. Mat 16:24-26, Php 3:8.

   
The Story of Job
Job's friend attributed Job's lost of wealth and his sickness to his sins. Their theology is "God punishes the sinners". Job must have sinned against God to get these punishment. Job, with same thinking framework, argued that he did not sin and challenged God for a fair hearing. Job accused God of punishing him without cause. God turning a blind eyes on the injustice. Evil people are not punished immediately. 

God shows His glory and wisdom that resulted in Job realizing his brokenness and acknowledgment of his need of God. Job 42:5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Job 42:6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes." 

Because of the presence of evil and evil will persecute righteousness, righteous people do suffer. We therefore cannot use suffering as a gauge of one's righteousness or sinfulness. Otherwise, Paul will be the biggest failure and sinner against God since he suffered so much. Innocent people also suffer due to evil works of others. Partial view of a thing is a distorted and a wrong view.

Christianity is about Relationship with God
Christianity is about relationship God. We should value relationship with God higher than that our well-being and blessings. Loving God includes loving others. (John 21:15-19 Jesus told Peter that love him more than material things and to love Him means to tend His sheep - His followers).

Our love for Christ will be strengthended through testing, just like Job. We may be broken to give up on ourselves and to desire Christ more. Our brokenness leads us to yield to Christ, to be freed, and to taste His power. i.e. 2 Cor 12:10b when I am weak than I am strong and Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. . (see Larry Crabb's Soultalk too for more details)

Do we love God more than these materials wealth, health, my feeling. etc ... or in absence of these....
The 1st and highest priority should be to know God - to encounter Him and have a relationship Him. To trust Him fully whether we have or not the other legitimate blessings.

Christian Growth
Growth has not short cut. When we first receive Christ, we struggles with sin. As we grow into maturity, we face another type of struggle - it is about giving up legitimate things for higher priority of God and others. The process looks like this:
Stage 1 Love Christ because of His blessings
Stage 2 Love Christ with or without blessing.
Stage 3 Love Christ even facing persecution.
Stage 4 Love Christ no matter what. Putting our lives fully into Christ's hand and let Him do whatever He like.

The Danger - The false Gospel
It is so easy to fall into the trap of using Christ as our means to our blessings. It is not that God does not want to bless us, but that we should get our priority straighten-up. We should love and trust God first and let Him bless us; and God will surely bless us when we truly know and trust Him. God's principle is trust first by sowing and then trust Him also to reap the rewards He has given. To give and not to reap is false humility too.
Psa 29:11 The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace. (Shalom - wholeness, safe, prosperity, peace etc.)