Apart from God, people's ability to love is governed by the fear that their investments of love might not return to them. They are frightened that their secret, prized possessions won't be right where they left them if they don't continually cling.
But far superior and eternally freeing is the nature of Christ in us. Such is God's divine brilliance that He creates free thinkers, Spirit-led workers and unconditional lovers. God's people are free to move with Him wherever He goes.
To follow Christ is to embrace a childlike appreciation for the divine. People who dare to dive into the straightforward Truth are rewarded with a new appreciation for bottomless mystery.
In this way, Christ enables His people to value those things that would have only bothered them before. In fact, anyone who has drawn near to the Presence of God in Christ wouldn't doubt that there is purposeful direction in the whimsical flight path of every flitting butterfly.
According to the unpredictable wisdom of God, when we give up our right to have anything, then we can have Him who embodies every good thing. Godly gifts, such as freedom, peace, kindness, love, goodness, inspiration, fellowship, purity, innocence and faithfulness, are best received when we give up our right to have them.
As there is no other way to accept heavenly gifts except for what they are, when they are, so also there is no other way to accept Christ except just as He is. He is up to Himself to define. And all good things are designed to point us back to the One who invented them, who is also the solitary Source if these things. Therefore, if we learn to accept good things however God gives them, then we might also learn how to honor Christ by accepting Him as He is.
Everyone has experienced good things at least once or twice. We may even remember the circumstances that led up to some particular joy or miracle. So should we try to reproduce these circumstances for the sake of experiencing the same joy in the same way? No. Trying to duplicate God's free gifts adulterates those gifts and dishonors the Giver. Is it okay to try to remanufacture a heavenly miracle? Absolutely not. Any attempt to reproduce a divine occurrence is the opposite of miraculous. It is only a sham.
But we who follow Christ are called to delight in the un-guessable nature of God, especially as He is embodied in Christ, who is Divinity in the form of a man. When we worship God for whoever He is then we will worship Him truly. Is this not His name, the I AM? This means that He is dependably who He is. Therefore, we worship Him rightly when we keep seeking, obeying and falling back only on Him who has always been faithful.
We expose our lack of faith in the Source of all good things by dwelling excessively on past experience. If experience with the Almighty teaches us anything, it is that we should not profane Him by confining Him or His work to our sense of familiarity. It would betray our trust in the Lord to clench stubborn fists around some speck of goodness from Him that we want to reserve as our own exclusive property.
We mustn't clasp God's gifts as if we had a right to them. But rather, our relationship to God is based on free grace, even to the extent that we are coheirs with Christ. Is God not our heavenly Father? Couldn't we trust Him just for today since He has gotten us this far?
If a man coerces his friend into giving him something, then at no point was that given thing ever a gift. For that matter, such an ordeal would probably weaken whatever friendship might have existed between these two (if there was any friendship there in the first place). In the same way, we introduce a hostile element into our otherwise unconditional trust-relationship with God when we try to force His heavenly blessing in our time, in our way. Anyone who does not understand unconditional giving or unconditional love cannot be a very good friend, nor can they be very near to God's heart.
There is only one right response to Him who gives freely beyond what we can imagine, and that is an unconditional "thank you." This means, if we are truly thankful, then we should not claim anything for ourselves as if it were our right to have it. And the only kind of thanksgiving worth mentioning is that which takes good things as good things are given, and accepts bad things when they are given as well.
God might remove every good thing from us, and that right soon. But what difference would that make? All our comforts in particular are extra blessings in the first place. They are not necessities. Not even our continued living is ultimately necessary from God's point of view.
So where is our faith in all this? It is in Christ. He is exceedingly great all by Himself, even despite every manly opinion to the contrary. Men might not like it when He takes away what they value, from little things all the way up to life itself. Yet He remains God and He remains good no matter what anyone thinks of Him. He initiated our life and will, after a few moments, meet us on the other side of death.
A right knowledge of ourselves should lead us toward humility, so that we give thanks for every breath. God gave life to us when we did not previously have it. Nor did we exist before God caused us to exist.
Therefore the idea that little people like us might hold something against God is absurd. And it is laughable that we human beings think God owes us something.
Using the life that God graciously provides, fools rage against His holiness. And it is the breath He gives, which enables them to spout their folly.
But all life, beginning to end, is a gift from God. It is only those that are overly fond of themselves who assume otherwise.
This is an excerpt from To the Church of the West, Scattered Throughout the World. Find this book and similar articles at www.BooksByPatrick.com
Patrick is an average Christ-seeker. His goal is to turn people to Jesus Christ.