Random Blog Clay Feet: January 02, 2008
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Center of Life

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

Once in a while I catch a clearer glimpse of reality from outside the normal view of things and it always awakens an intense desire for much more. As I read these words this morning I was not only reminded of the parallel passage in 8:31-39 but the fact that the main reason Paul was so passionate about His ministry was to get everyone to see the truth about reality and God like he could see it.

What I see a little clearer in these passages is the fact that reality revolves around the center and Source of all life which is only full of goodness, compassion, mercy, justice and passionate love. It does not revolve around us, our problems, our salvation, our reputation, our... The focus of the Bible is much bigger than most people ever catch onto. We usually think the Bible is a book of rules or a book of complicated history or a secret code or an instruction manual on how to get us into heaven. But the primary purpose of the Bible is to reveal the real truth about God, to unmask the lies about Him promoted by His archenemy and ultimately to accomplish God's salvation in the eyes of the whole universe.

What these verses tell me is that I need a dramatic change in my focus, my reason for existence, my motivation for living, the center around which everything in my mind and life revolves. I have lived most of life like those described throughout the book of Romans trying to please (appease) God in order to be saved. Primarily this has been attempted by trying to get rid of all the bad things in my life so I can “get right” with God. The goal of all this was so I could be “saved” in heaven and escape the alternative. But all this revolves around a focus on me, my problems, my pain, my rehabilitation, my...

But I am slowly learning – and God help me, I want to just completely switch over – that when I focus deliberately on the true picture of God that He has been revealing, His goodness, His love, His truthfulness, His attractiveness and beauty, that the real work of transformation begins to accelerate naturally. Oh, I still have to deal with the obstacles of personal faults and mistakes and lies that crowd in to block my view of God and distort my picture of His beauty. But those are not the things I should stay focused on.

As I relate to all these internal distractions by taking them all directly to God and clinging to Him even tighter, I find much more relief than when I allow them to become the center around which my life revolves. Sin at its core is really selfishness. We were not created to live this way even though it now feels so natural. So as I begin to live life in a strange new way and learn more and more through a focus on the real, life-giving Center of all things to live life in an outward modality, I find myself feeling more fulfillment, more alive and my heart begins to thrive. This is what salvation does for me; this is restoration to my original design and function.

But ultimately salvation belongs to our God (Rev. 7:10 and 19:1). It is His reputation that needs salvaging much more than ours. We are just witnesses and jury and judges in the greatest trial of all time and eternity.

It has been pointed out many times that the real issue in the Great Controversy is worship. That is a term that I believe very few people comprehend but participate in anyway. Everyone worships, they just don't recognize the way they worship or what it is they worship. But as I am beginning to see, worship is the actions and decisions of the heart as it looks for sources of life and satisfaction so that it can come alive and thrive.

With that understanding it is easier to see how the pieces fit together. With sin causing us to focus on ourselves and our ideas of what will bring us life and satisfaction we will always tend to look for primarily external things and people to eliminate our pain and satisfy our cravings to feel valuable. The list of potential false gods is endless but very real. But the underlying problem is very much like the earth-centered view of the universe held by the religiously controlled world of the dark ages.

They insisted that all the rest of the universe circled around this earth. I believe the main reason they held to this opinion was not because of any evidence but because it was reflective of their self-centered spiritual view of reality.

While we may think that we are much more enlightened today because we believe more accurate scientific evidence about space and stars, we have not progressed at all away from a spiritual universe where everything including God revolves around us and our happiness and eternal welfare. This is the central theme of almost all religions on the earth, the common denominator that keeps us from experiencing real life as it is enjoyed throughout the rest of the unfallen universe.

The main difference that marked the early Christian believers and made them an irresistible force that swept the world was the transformation caused by the gospel that caused them to live their life focused on revolving around the Source of life, Jesus Christ, rather than around themselves or any other source of earthly satisfaction. This was startling and baffling to the rest of the world but unmistakably attractive to anyone who was willing to be honest at heart. It was polarizing as well, forcing everyone confronted with this radical new way of thinking and living to choose whether to embrace it fully or reject and oppose it. For real Christianity never allows those who view it to remain neutral.

The reason Christianity has so little impact in the world today is because it has become so compromised by a self-centered mindset that it is not really much different than any other philosophy in the world. It bears little resemblance to the dynamic, status-quo challenging, vibrant power that possessed the lives of the early believers. But it will happen again and at a much greater level than ever before in history. Revelation predicts that before the next arrival of Jesus Christ on this planet the glory of God will fill the whole world (Rev. 18:1-4). And this will cause the last and final polarization that will differentiate for the last time between the people who choose to orient their lives and hearts circulating around the center of God as their only source of life, bonded only by love and devotion for Him, and those who choose to focus earthward and inward and rely on fear and force to promote a false system of worship that looks to men or any other place as their source of authority and life.

Paul had learned years before that his life only had real meaning and his heart could only thrive as he allowed God to be the center of everything. He was so full of passionate devotion for God that he would occasionally burst into exclamations of worship and praise whenever he got close to it in his writings. This is what is seen in this passage and at the end of chapter 8. These are spontaneous outbursts of natural worship and gratitude from a heart that is being refreshed from the fountain of real life. This is the kind of life that Paul wants to attract others to experience and I believe is the burden of all his writing, preaching and teaching. He simply wants everyone possible to shift their focus from religion or any other distractions to the One who can satisfy all their deepest cravings, heal all their pain and make living meaningful. He is intensely desirous of sharing the good news about God, the gospel, so that as many as possible will become addicted to being loved and living in a love relationship with God.

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