Friday, January 15, 2010

Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

We have discussed in prior posts the concept of blaming God for things that happen to us rather than accepting personal responsibility. We came to the conclusion that “bad” things happening to “good” people is a myth. Most “things” that happen to us are a natural consequence of our own actions and as for being “good”, none of us really are. Being a Christian is not a guarantee against pain and trauma in our lives, it is rather a method for dealing with pain and trauma. However the concept of blaming God is not limited to our physical lives, it is sometimes put forward in our spiritual lives as well.

The argument goes along these lines … “if God created me with the capability to sin, then he bears responsibility for it when I do”. A further even more refined argument is … “if God is responsible for my faith, and my salvation, and my attainment of perfection, then isn’t he at fault when I do not reach those things”. Both of these arguments are powerful. In point of fact we did not invent them, Lucifer did. And he used them to attempt to persuade the entire universe that God was in fact a tyrant ultimately responsible for everything Lucifer would do, and cause us to do. The remainder of the universe may not have chosen to side with Lucifer, but the power of this argument was enough to keep them listening … until the cross.

These arguments are further exacerbated by the idea that we MUST become as little children, fully dependant on God to perform the changes we need on our behalf. The anti-evil teaching of humility and dependence seems to itself bolster the idea that if we have not already reached a state of perfection, God must be to blame. It seems logical. How can we have complete dependence on God, and still assign Him no responsibility for our continued condition in sin? So if I have fully surrendered my will to God and I sin, then isn’t it God who allowed me to sin?

The primary problem with this line of thinking is not only its logical conclusion, but its motivation in the first place. Logically this idea leads us to believe that if we sin, God must know about it as He is in charge of us, and therefore somehow our sin must have God’s OK. Consequently we are OK just as we are, on the process of becoming pure and holy. As if God somehow could “wink” at our cute little sins we commit. Like a parent who finds the temper tantrum of his two-year-old just “so adorable”. It’s not. Most outside observers think the two-year-old situation needs to be addressed. The things we do that supposedly God would be “winking” at do not consist of just stamping our feet and screaming, we hurt each other, badly. All sin is insidious. All sin brings pain – to us, to others, and to God. All sin is destructive on many levels and intended for our ultimate demise. There is NO tolerance for any sin in the eyes of God.

As mentioned, it is the motivation of this entire line of thinking that is of greater concern. The idea of trying to excuse sin rather than exterminate sin is the HUGE problem. We should be seeking to eliminate sin entirely. Looking for loopholes in our concept of salvation is the first sign we are looking for the wrong things. It is the freedom FROM sin we seek, not the excuse to remain BOUND to it. We treat sin like it is the “good” or the “fun” thing we cannot imagine giving up, when in fact, it is candy made of sugar and cyanide. Sin is contagious cancer without remission. It looks to infect us and everyone around us, trying to kill us all, painfully. Running towards this outcome rather than away from it is what the scripture calls the “mystery of iniquity”.

But even when we do seek to eliminate sin from our lives, is there still any truth to the idea of holding God responsible? Morris Vendon once gave an analogy of our spiritual lives as being in car on a highway. God asks if He can drive. Over time we learn to let Him, since every time we drive ourselves we crash and burn. He fixes us up and puts us back on the road and asks to drive again. But letting Him drive is not the end of the road. As we being to head out what seems like a brick wall is something God appears to be heading straight for. We grab the wheel and turn the car into the ditch. God remains patient and fixes us up, puts us back on the road, and asks to drive again. Over time we might just learn to let him drive in spite of the wall, when we do, the wall explodes just prior to us making contact with it and we travel on the road completely unharmed. This is the nature of God overcoming sin on our behalf. He can really only be effective, when we let Him.

I would take this analogy a bit further. The reason we so often grab the wheel when we see the approaching brick wall of sin on our road, is that we are too focused on the “road” and not on “the driver”. We get so obsessed with sin by looking intently at it, that we fall into it through our own weakness and inherent nature. Instead of looking so hard at the road, and the brick wall on it, we should just stare at Jesus. It is hard to fall in the presence of the Lord. It is hard to remember why we liked something as destructive as sin, when spending time with the source of all LOVE, or all truly good things. Were we to ignore the road, and the wall, and focus only on Him, our trip would have less grabbing the wheel, and more making time down the road itself.

Our basic problem in the process of salvation is that we remain capable of exerting our control over it. Every time we do, we crash and burn. Our supreme effort, our horribly difficult task, our “work” if you wish to see it that way is to surrender to God and focus only on Him. We are not the first humans to have to do this. Remember that when Christ was on this earth, He remained God in man. He could have used His divine power to solve any problem, avoid any conflict, save Himself any pain. He did not. He surrendered His will to that of His Father. He surrendered His divine power and did nothing for Himself only for others. He surrendered to Dad. So must we.

Another analogy of God working with us is that of the clay pot maker. God molds us, sculpts us, puts us through the fires to make us stronger, and changes us from mere dirt to something beautiful and something to be used in service to others. What does the clay do for its part? Get molded. Get cooked. Get decorated. What happens if the clay decides to “change” this thing or that thing? You get some bumps in the design, and what is supposed to be a vessel that holds water is too crooked to sit on a shelf or keep the water in the pot. In short, the clay cannot do anything to improve the work of the Master, but it can do plenty to mess it up. So like us. We are incapable of making ourselves into something of use, but we are MORE than capable of messing up all the work God does for us and in us. This is where the “work” of surrender comes in.

And before you get all crazy happy thinking you finally have a work to do in the process of saving yourself, Nope. What you have is the identification of the first thing you need for God to help you change about yourself in order that other things can fall like dominos. God help us to learn how to surrender our will to You – Nope. God take over our will completely, change us in our core, make us Yours and not of this world. This is the prayer we must pray and such a DANGEROUS prayer it is; because it is a real one, with real results. We may not rise from our knees a perfect being, for our inclination to grab the wheel is a strong one. But this is prayer that allows God to finally begin molding the clay of our lives. Surrender to the will of God each day, each hour, in each trying circumstance is the way to let Him drive, let Him sculpt the outcome, and allows us to rest in our focus on Him.

Finally, God is not to blame for our downfall, He is to be given praise for our salvation. For God is the author and the FINISHER of our salvation. He does not takes us part way there and leave us on the side of road. He completes the journey FOR us. This is the depth of the love of the God we serve, and why He alone is so WORTHY…

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