Friday, August 31, 2012

The Cost of Worship

 Have always had trouble with the story of Cain and Abel.  There are a few stories in the Bible that I just can’t understand, because they fly in the face of my fleshly desire for what I perceive to be justice, and this is one of them. (Jesus parable of the laborers who all get the same wage is another.)  If God gave Cain the ability to till the fields and grow crops, why is the fruit of his labor not an acceptable offering?  He brought what he had.  Why was that wrong?

Part of God’s answer to Cain stuck out to me today.  Genesis 4:7 says, “ If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”  Worship is costly, and for some people it costs more than others.  Doing what is right is always better than doing what is wrong.  What caught me, though, is the reminder that sin is crouching at the door. Failure to worship as God intends opens up that door.  Worshipping in spirit and in truth puts a seal on the door.  It wasn't Cain's offering that got him exiled from the land of his youth.  His failure to worship as God intended opened the door to further temptation to sin.  The break in his fellowship with God allowed space for sin to creep in and set up housekeeping.  That's when his frustration turned to hatred against his brother.  

I still sometimes feel like Cain.  My offering isn’t good enough.  Who I am isn’t good enough.  I miss the mark.  And I should feel that way, I guess, because it’s a reminder that my offering isn’t good enough, and I do miss the mark.  That’s why I need Jesus. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

I Want to Know Christ

I started this blog in December of last year.  I wrote one entry.  Then my life turned upside down.  It has taken 8 months for me to be ready to write again.

I was reminded of something today.  I was listening to a pastor on podcast, and he was preaching on Philippians 3.  I suddenly remembered something that I wrote several years ago.  I think it was in August of 2009.  I was teaching at Red Lion, and in our faculty back to school time we were supposed to choose a theme verse, or a verse that we wanted to define our year (or something like that).  I honestly don't remember the exact assignment, but I do remember the verse that the Lord gave me.  It was a strange verse for be to choose, because it wasn't from one of my "favorite passages."  It was also a verse that made me little uncomfortable.  I liked the beginning of the verse, but I wasn't so sure about the end.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death Phil 3:10

This passage starts with Paul talking about everything that he had that would cause the world to marvel at him.  He had been an impressive man in every possible way, and he counted it all as loss.  One translation says garbage.  Another says dung.  Why?  Because he wanted to know Christ.  Compared to Christ, nothing else mattered.

This year has felt like a continual stripping away of all of those things in which I could boast.  I never thought I was a prideful person.  Until all of those things in which I boasted slipped away. It left me broken and angry.  God, I am good at these things.  You gave me these things.  What kind of God would take them away?

Today, I got a glimmer of my answer.  A God that wants me to know Him.  3 years ago, He whispered into my soul that this was the path on which He was placing my feet.  I just wasn't ready to see it.  Christ gave up all that was dear to Him for me.  Christ was rejected by those He loved.  Christ had to lay down His gifts to be used by His Father.  I want to know Him.  Becoming like Him in His death eventually will allow me to say, "Not my will but Thine be done."

There is no better way to end than with the reminder of Paul's words in this chapter.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Phil 3:12-14

I press on.