God Is Not Worried

via lamp-of-diogenes.blogspot.com

Here’s a good word for anyone fretting over her future.

Many of us good Christians have the notion that God is, well, perfect.  And rightly so.  Did not Jesus instruct his followers to “be perfect … as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48)?  That’s a good thing.  What would be the point of worshiping an imperfect God?

Still, when we get around to thinking about our futures, the Lord’s holiness can seem daunting.  We begin, often in good nature, to wring our hands over God’s will for our lives.  We sweat and bite our nails and squirm in our chairs when we’re forced to think of our plans intersecting the Lord’s will – “his good, pleasing and [gasp!] perfect will” (Rom 12:2).

What if I get it wrong?  What if I decide to get married and God wanted me to be single?  What if I go to law school, but God hoped I would go to medical school?  What if I have a child too early?  What if I have a child too late?  What if I switch jobs?  What if I switch churches?  What if I’m wrong?

We worry that we might upset the Lord’s perfect plans.  If we miss His will, we can’t go back and un-miss it.  We’re doomed!

Here’s a good word for anyone fretting over his future: God is not worried.

So what if you miss?  (And you will.)  Have you suddenly hamstrung the Creator?  Have you befuddled the Ancient of Days?  Have you found the one loophole for which the cross had not accounted?

We’ve been raised to equate perfection with rigidity, that there is but one way in which something might be perfect. Perfection is a straight line.

But perhaps the very nature of perfection is flexibility.  Perhaps the very thing that makes God holy is His willingness to adjust to circumstance, and do so without losing the ultimate objective.  A perfect game in baseball is a game in which the pitcher does not allow an opposing batter to reach base.  Twenty-seven men come to bat; twenty-seven men record outs.  There is no requirement, however, that the pitcher record those outs in a particular manner.  Strikeouts, pop flies, grounders.  It doesn’t matter, so long as they produce outs.

So if you’re fretting over your future today, or any other day, remember this: Whatever you choose, God is not worried.

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Martin Luther King Jr’s Greatest Gift to Posterity

A few years back, musician Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot & Fiction Family) released a solo project, which included the track “Learning How to Die.”  The song includes this poignant refrain:

All along I thought / I was learning how to take / How to bend not how to break / How to live not how to cry / But really / I’ve been learning how to die / I’ve been learning how to die

Foreman’s reflections have the tenor of the best kind of mid-life crisis.  This isn’t the desperation of a 40-something realizing his wasted youth, with the resulting Porsche purchase.  This is the subtle dawning of a matured understanding, that a great secret to life has been revealed.

Indeed, it is a great secret to life, one that the Scriptures advocate from start to finish.  There is a pattern in both the Old Testament and the New Testament in which those things that are lasting in God’s Kingdom must pass through death.

Alas, everything dies in this world.  And it would be a fruitless and sad world if death had the final word.  But the hope of Scripture, the hope of our Creator is that He is faithful to resurrect the things that have died in His service.

Perhaps the earliest example we have is Abraham taking his promised son Isaac to the summit of Moriah (Gen 22).  Isaac is not literally killed by his father as a sacrifice to the Lord, but the reader gets the picture: Isaac was as good as dead.  (Incidentally, this is precisely the imagery Paul used in speaking of Abraham before he and Sarah conceived.  See Romans 4:19.)  Yet Isaac is delivered and out of his line comes the nation of Israel.

Of course, our best example is Christ himself, who was quite literally raised from death. Those who sacrifice themselves on the Lord’s behalf will find themselves vindicated by a grateful and faithful King.

And this is the thought that strikes me this Martin Luther King Day.  We could measure Dr. King’s legacy in any number of ways, not least in the symbolism inherent in the man who takes the oath of our nation’s highest office today.  These are worthy and appropriate measurements.

But I fear we miss the greatest gift of Rev. King’s life if we do not learn from the example he gave, that he had given himself to die for a cause that was on the heart of the Creator, expecting to somehow be vindicated by his God.  It’s that sort of work that lasts in this world.  It’s that sort of person that lives.

Citizens of Heaven, in which We’re Meant to Live on Earth

When Paul was writing to the Christians in Philippi, he was addressing the citizens of a unique city.  Philippi had been established as an official Roman colony about a generation before Christ.  As a Roman colony, Philippi governed by Roman law; citizens of the city had many special privileges both within the city and across the Empire; even the city’s layout resembled the Roman capital.  In short, Philippi was a miniature Rome in northwestern Greece.
Citizens of Philippi were citizens of the Roman Empire, meant to spread the culture and influence of the western capital in their region to the east.  Having Philippi as an official colony some 600 miles to the east was a valuable asset to Rome in having a footprint in another, distant portion of the Empire.
So when Paul writes in Philippians 3:20 that the Philippian Christians have their citizenship in heaven, he is making a profound statement, loaded with meaning for he believers in Philippi.  The Philippian Christians would have understood: citizenship in heaven was not about simply enduring this world and longing to get into heaven when they died.
Citizenship in heaven was all about being an outpost of heaven in a distant land.  It was about being a colony, meant to export the culture, values, justice, and resources of the capital.  The Philippians would have understood Paul’s imagery: their citizenship in heaven meant they had a job to do in this world.