Random Blog Clay Feet: December 18, 2007
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Two Great W's

As I was reading about the Second Coming of Jesus this morning, something grabbed my attention and I realized that one of the stark contrasts between the saved and the lost not only revolves around their perception of Jesus and the character of God, but that those opposing perceptions both start with W. This is spelled out clearly in the book of Revelation as well as all throughout the Bible.

The main result of sanctification, the transformational work in the heart that takes place in the people who accept the gift of salvation (restoration to their original function and design) is that they come to realize with all their heart, soul, spirit and mind the immense, immeasurable WORTH of the character and beauty of God as revealed through His Son Jesus our Savior. Repeatedly throughout Revelation we find song after song of praise by the people of God and the inhabitants of heaven praising the worth of the Lamb of God.

In complete contrast to this overwhelming sense of worth and adoration that has taken full possession of the minds and hearts of those who are saved is the reaction of those who have clung to the lies about God perpetrated by His enemies. It is seen most clearly in its absurdity, but with all the terrifying resultant effects on their psyche when they see the very same Lamb of God that is adored by angels and those who love Him appearing in person to embrace all who are willing to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the WRATH of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:16-17)

This, I believe, is the single most important indicator that can be used to discover which side we will be found on in that day. Albeit all of us are coming from a position of fear with so many lies embedded in our hearts about how God feels about us, but each one of us has a choice as to whether we will continue to harbor these lies or whether we will allow God to replace them with the glorious, genuine truth about Him, the reality that God is not someone to be afraid of but someone who wants very much to be our most intimate friend, companion and protector. He desires everyone to enter into a covenant relationship with Him so that He can transform them by the renewing of their mind as they choose to cooperate with Him.

So how do we know if we have the genuine truth? Do we check our church manual and see if all our doctrines can be proved from the Bible? Do we look to see if our church service is exciting and makes us feel close to God with all kinds of wonderful warm feelings? Do we rely on religious authorities or experts to figure out for us and relay to us what to believe about God? Are we willing to bank on these resources to be our surety and guarantee that we will live with God and the angels for all eternity?

I do believe that God has revealed His truth to humanity by means of His Word, the Holy Bible. And even though it has a lot of cloudiness and potential for confusion, it is a reliable resource for us to discover the real truth about God and how He really feels about us if we are willing to maintain an open mind and heart and are careful to ask God directly to guide our minds as we expose ourself to its pages. Much error is supported by stringing many texts together, but God is faithful to guide us into all truth if we will employ the gift He has promised all of us of the Holy Spirit who is fully committed to drawing us not just into all intellectual truth but more importantly into a heart relationship of experiential truth. It is what we believe at the heart level that ultimately determines our relationship with God much more than our intellectual knowledge, as important as that may be.

And I think the single, most easily identifiable indicator of authentic truth that we have experientially is our feelings about God's passion toward us. When we are confronted with the intensity and purity of God's face and character and His overwhelming passion to love us unconditionally, do we feel fear or do we feel a welling up of appreciation and gratitude? When confronted with the real truth about God's wrath not having the characteristics of our wrath but as a strange and somewhat unfamiliar intense love that is full of fire in its intensity, do we feel a resistance to be swallowed up in its heat? Do we feel a desire to argue with those who believe in God's nature of pure love without any recrimination or intent to destroy? Do we promote a mixture of fear (as in afraid) of God along with a “balancing” amount of love? Do we insist that someday God is going to run out of patience and will lash out against His enemies in anger and personally vent violence upon them in a fit of anger until His wrath is appeased?

If we insist on clinging to these false concepts of God in our hearts and minds, not only will we perceive that kind of God when we see wrath in that face of the real Lamb of God but our lives now will reflect the diabolical results of mixing truth and lies about God. We will exhibit the instability inherent in double-mindedness (James 1:8). The way we treat those who disagree with us, who are different than we are or who refuse to accept our views of God are reflective of how we believe God treats those who resist His will. This has been demonstrated all too often throughout history as can be clearly evidenced by the way religious authorities tortured and burned alive those who disagreed with them for hundreds of years during the Dark Ages.

To the very degree that we believe in the Wrath of God as perceived from a human understanding of wrath, we will fall short of being able to appreciate the Worth of God as demonstrated in the offering of His Son on Calvary. If we believe in a wrathful God, then when we look at Calvary we will be confused and believe that Jesus' death was a prime example of the violence and irrationality of God's wrath, though we will struggle to rationalize it into some form of intellectual sense. We will think that Jesus was somehow killed to appease the anger of an offended Deity and some will further believe that Jesus is still pleading our cases before the Father to placate Him enough to allow us to be saved while we work diligently to eliminate sin from our lives. All of this thinking fills our minds and hearts with the very concepts of God that cause those described in Revelation 6 to see the Lamb as full of wrath. It also precludes our hearts from seeing the real worth of the Lamb, for the real worth of the Lamb is not that of appeasement placating an angry God but is found in the intense passion reverberating from the very heart of God revealed through Jesus to love and redeem every sinner who is willing to believe in His mercy and the truth about His love.

As I look into my own heart I see a mixture of perceptions about God sort of like oil and water swirling around in my heart, a confusing mix of wrath and worth. As every human, I start out with a great deal of fear about God and misconceptions about His wrath that causes those misconceptions to be reflected in the attitudes of my own heart. Growing up with a great deal of anger that is not yet completely resolved, I cannot help but have a gnawing uneasiness about meeting the Son of God face to face in His glory. Fortunately Jesus has delayed His coming so that I can have time to be transformed from a slave of wrath to a son who has learned with my heart to value the real worth of His passion for me. It is a long, slow and frustrating process of transformation, but I am relying on His faithfulness to finish what He has started in me.

I want the power of the Holy Spirit to replace all of the wrath that still resides in me with a sense of the worth that Jesus feels when He looks at me and thinks about me. The more I sense my own worth in the eyes and heart of Jesus the less wrath I feel inside of me. And the more truth about God that I learn, especially the truth about His passion that has been misnamed “wrath”, the more I feel an upwelling of appreciation for His worth. The cesspool water of lies in my heart is slowly being displaced by the healing oil of the Holy Spirit, the oil of joy. The more worth that I see in the beauty of God the more eager I am to embrace the day of His appearing and welcome the Lamb of glory.

So I believe that the real choice that each of us has to make about God is to settle in our hearts and minds whether God is a God of wrath or is he a God of worth. I don't think there is a mixture of the two, despite all the protests of many religionists. There is growing evidence that makes it very clear to me that we have seriously maligned God's reputation for centuries by insisting that His passion is reflective of human wrath with all the implications of vengeance, arbitrary in nature and intimidating by design. God is not interested in service for Him motivated from fear but only from love. God never employs force in His kingdom but only operates in love. When we come to fully understand and appreciate these foundational truths, then we will swell with appreciation and give glory to God for the real worth and the superiority of love over force, of mercy over legalism, of everlasting lovingkindness over evil. As I am filled with appreciation of the real worth of the Lamb, my own life begins to reflect the same characteristics, for by beholding I become changed.

Father, I give you unlimited permission to continue the work you started in me to its full completion. Transform me from a hurting boy full of anger and wrath and fear to a loving son full of value and with a heart brimming over with appreciation of your real worth. Give me the eyes and heart of Jesus to see my own family members and the real worth that you see in them. Fill me with your grace and love and spirit of selfless service. Remove the lies about you that still poison my heart and cause me to be afraid of you and cause others to be afraid of me. Do a thorough heart-transplant in me and fill me with your Spirit so that I will resonate with the feelings of your heart. Open my eyes to see your real worth so that I can sing with full enthusiasm the songs Moses and the Lamb – "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."