flip side

image borrowed from wearearising.org

It seems to me that two common fallacies about the Kingdom of God are opposites

  • one: there is something i need to do so God will be okay with me
  • two: God will bless me  because he loves me unconditionally

Want a picture?  Go back to the Bible!

Start with Leviticus 16 – Yom Kipur, the day of atonement, one of the biggest days on the Jewish calendar.  Where were the people?  In Jerusalem?  Nope!  At their local synagogue?  Nope (God never told them to go to their local synagogue, btw).  They were at home, fasting and praying.  Why?  Because the high priest did all the work!  Get it?

Feeling a little helpless in your quest to be good enough for God?  Give it up – you’re doomed to failure.  You can’t do what our high priest Jesus has already done.  Most of us know that with our mind, but we still fight with the concept from time to time in our heart.

So what about the blessings thing?  Check Deuteronomy 28.  God promises all sorts of blessings, preceded by the little word, “if”.  There’s a sort of narcissistic myth in the church that goes something like “If i just tell God what I want long enough and hard enough, he’s going give it to me.”

The serpent planted three lies in Eve in the garden:

  1. doubt – you can’t trust God
  2. desire – there is a shortcut to maturity/perfection/completion
  3. rebellion – disobedience doesn’t have consequences

Number three is in play here.  Yes indeed, God trully wants to bless you.  He doesn’t even want you to work for blessings.  Deuteronomy 28:2 says that blessings will run up to you and jump on you!

It’s the “if” word we stumble on.  Salvation is a gift.  “Here, take the keys to this new Lexus.”  “Here’s a million dollars.”  “Here’s the deed for this 14-room mansion.”  All we do is stretch out our hand to receive it.  But blessing comes with obedience.  It requires both relationship – knowing the Father’s will – and the action of doing it.

Think about a family.  If yours is messed up, think about a good family you know or picture an imaginary perfect family.  The dad says, “Clean up your room.”  The child says “I want a new <something>.”  Will the child get the desired thing if they don’t clean the room?  In a good family, no; because the father is working to teach the child obedience and uses even insignificant life situations to reinforce that teaching.  Why should God behave differently toward us?


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