Finding significance in God
I’ve been processing some pain lately, and I’ve felt the need to trace it to its root. When we have recurring spontaneous pain, it’s like the warning light on a car’s dashboard. It’s a sure sign that there’s something going on under the hood that needs our attention.
Ultimately, exactly how we are co-laborers with God in our own salvation and the salvation of the world is a mystery. But we have enough light on the matter to be able to function and bear fruit. On a practical level, I am increasingly convinced that precious little, if any, spiritual advancement happens automatically. We need to be diligent about it. We need to direct our attention to it and press in. When we find obstacles or hindrances, we need to devote ourselves to their removal.
And so as I was making breakfast this morning, out of the blue came a twang of spiritual pain. I tried to rush past it, but then I realized that I needed to deal with whatever was behind it. So I asked, “what was that?”, and it was quickly revealed to me that the pain was from rejection.
Immediately I saw my error. Rejection cannot hurt me unless I am trying to gain my significance from man’s acceptance. If I direct my need for acceptance and significance to God alone, what can man’s rejection do to me? And that is exactly what God wants us to do.
We cannot be whole so long as we are dependant on man’s acceptance. We will either corrupt ourselves to gain his approval or we will exist in torment for its lack. And either state – corruption or lack of Spirit – will keep us from bearing fruit for God.
The answer is to live for God’s pleasure alone. But living for God does not mean we leave the world. We still walk out our salvation on the horizontal plane. We must interface with people. We must love them with God’s love and we must be his ambassador of reconciliation to them.
But paradoxically, even as we form intimate bonds with people (and Christians, the bearers of the true love that is from God, should be the ones forming the most true and the most intimate of human relationships), the blessing comes not from the relationships inherently, it comes from God, and works through them.
That’s a delicate balance that I’m not even close to mastering. But I can say that we need to be in constant communication with Father as we work out our salvation with fear (awesome holy reverence) and trembling (yes, a little fear is appropriate as long as we remain in our bodies and subject to sin). He is faithful to guide us to what’s right and guard us from what’s wrong if we place our full trust in him, and not in appearances or in man or in ourselves.
If we base our significance on our acceptance in the Beloved, Jesus, and dedicate ourselves wholly to pleasing God, our confidence will be unshakable. Our strength will be spiritual, and earthly things cannot affect things which are not earthly. If God be for us, what can man do against us? This is what God promises to those who put the Kingdom first. He will work out everything for the good, he will perfect that which concerns us, and he will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
So if we have recurring issues that plague us, let us consider if we harbor any underlying dynamic that is contrary to the Word of God. Just as soon as we confess it, we are forgiven, and grace comes rushing in to give us the victory. We need to make sure that we have based every aspect of ourselves and our lives on nothing else but trust in the eternal sovereignty and unlimited goodness of God.
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