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01 February, 2014

Deuteronomy 6-9 - Warnings - Promises - Gratitude & Obedience to God-Part 2

The other day I met a lady in the shopping center. I know her and her husband from my previous Church.  Although I used to interact mainly with her husband, when I saw her she smiled at me. I stopped and inquired about how her family was doing. Then, knowing very well they were part of what God has called me to leave behind, I inquired about her spiritual growth. She went on telling me how much they are growing in the Lord and how important it is to keep growing etc. She then asked me a question about myself, I said, unfortunately God told me He wants me in the background. She then answered what do you mean God told you? How do you know it is God? I responded, because I interact with Him on a daily basis and because I have a relationship with the triune God within. She then replied, “don't tell me you can hear God.” I said of course I can hear God talking to me in the new heart. Then the lady dismissed me like an old dirty sock and walked away while she is saying “I have to go”. I could tell from her attitude she felt, somehow I have become a deranged person.

Afterward, I felt bad as if I let God down. I knew this lady was going to talk to her husband and both of them would agree that I am crazy. I felt even as she was leaving, I should have given her at least one verse reference to this fact. I guess one of the reasons I am stuck in Deuteronomy 6-9 it is because I know too well how my previous church was like most Churches today. They function as if the God of the Old Testament is a God of the past and a God of history and the God of the New Testament is more loving. So they could not see anything wrong with practicing the kind of Christianity where everything is under some kind of cheap grace. This kind of teaching was such a stumbling block for me when the Holy Spirit decided to teach me Himself.

Once again, I will go down in history for saying we Protestants has taken way too much out of God's word. Yet we cannot see the big tree in our eyes because we are too busy judging the Catholics for adding too much. God is truly all knowing. He did not say these words in Deuteronomy 4:2 in vain. “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.” He knew an important group of people would add to His word another important one would take away from His word. The only way to find a balance is to rely on His grace. When God was dealing with the Israelites in the wilderness, it was His grace at work through them, even today, it is still His grace at work through us. – Nothing has changed, He is the same today and forever.

One of the first things He decided to teach me in the wilderness was to get rid of this kind of love that I felt for Him. I sobbed uncontrollably when He showed me that the only love I am capable of feeling for Him had nothing to do with the love that He talked about. By then, my heart was engulfed with gratitude for my salvation, so I truly thought I loved Him. You can imagine how bad I felt when I recognized within me, I did not have the capacity even to do something as simple as loving Him. I cried because I felt I had nothing to offer this big God. I remember the Holy Spirit consoles me as He explained to me how it was okay for me to offer a defective human love (Philos love) to Him. He also taught me as long as I am willing to let Him take my defective love and change it into His agape love, that’s all it takes.  A few years down the road He showed me how I am making use of His agape love flowing in my heart.

Without going to God in humility, we keep recycling and loving God with the same kind of feelings of friendship love that the unbelievers use to love each other. The love God is talking about in the Bible is so much more than what we know and what we have to offer. This Godly love that we are commanded to love our God with, as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ and also the unbelievers, is not the kind of love that we withdraw “just because.” In time, I also understood why it took God so long to finally show me His agape love was now flowing through me. Like anything that belongs to Him that we have to make use of, He has to first empty us. Whether we talk about His Holiness, His Righteousness or His Agape Love, if we are too full of the self, He needs to empty us first before He can fill us up with Himself.

With all my heart, I did not care about this lady dismissal of me as she walked away. God already made it clear to me that I am not going to gather friends by speaking the truth that He taught me. If I were to care about myself, this would mean I have not learned to serve one God, and man’s opinion still matters a great deal. Paul told us it is wrong in Galatians 1:10. God has dealt with my heart over the years to learn to focus on serving Him and let Him deal with man’s opinion of me. But, my heart was aching knowing that, this lady's husband is well respected in the Church and he is part of the leadership. He also has a bible study group that I attended once in early 2000 a few months after I became a Christian. I care because I missed an opportunity to let God use me properly. I care because I realized since I left the Church, the pastor is different, but the teaching has not changed much. It makes sense when you consider the pastor who took over was a mentor to the previous one.

So, as I read Deuteronomy 6-9 I kept asking myself, how on earth can a Christian read these chapters and not seeing the cheap grace that permeates the Church then, and now?  I ask myself why do we take it all for granted, and throw “diligence” out of the window while living with the assumption that it is okay to do that to God. One of the reasons cheap grace permeates the Church so much is because, like the Israelites, we have never learned to let His grace help us love Him with all our heart. It is only by learning to love Him with all our heart that the self can fade away while the heart and soul embrace the saviour and take on His interests alone. 

Sadly, often times, we have followed a path for so long that we cannot get off of it even if we wanted to. So, when we hear the truth and it does not sit well with us, most of the time we automatically respond with our fragile ego. We use it as a shield to protect us from our fear and shame. But just the fact that our ego is leading, should be a major indication that we are nowhere near where we should be with God. Like the Israelites the only thing that was leading them in the wilderness was their ego. When the ego (the self) has not been dealt, with then we have nothing to offer as we insist on living in the flesh. The moment the flesh is leading there is no room for the Holy Spirit to be heard and to work within us. It makes sense because we already have a master at work, why would we need the Holy Spirit's leadership?

God is good.  He made arrangement for me to see this lady again, three days after our first encounter. It is funny that I did not see them since 2007 and suddenly I got to see the wife twice in three days. When I saw her I took her on the side and told  her, the other day I made her uncomfortable for saying that I could hear God, but I had no intention of offending her simply because God’s word says "my sheep hears my voice" She looked at me straight in my eyes, changed the subject while walking away. I was at peace knowing that I did what I had to do. I gave her something to think about and will no longer worry about my part, the rest is up to God.