Arrogance or Assurance


I hope it does not seem arrogant or prideful to say that I know I am a child of God, and that I belong to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and that I will live with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit forever.

To say that I was not sure of that would be to deny all that Christ did for me and said about his work and love for me. For example he says that anyone who comes to him will never be turned away. (John 6:37) He further illuminates that promise by telling those around him that the ones who come to him, who are hungry for his life are indeed brought by his Father. To my way of thinking it means that anyone who has the inclination towards placing his or her confidence in Jesus Christ is already in relationship to him.

If my wife had said that anyone who calls her on the telephone to ask for a date (back when we were not married, of course) would not be turned away, I would have been on the phone in a heartbeat and assured of a wonderful time.

Jesus told the crowds of people to come to him to find rest for their weary souls, burdened usually by bad religious advice and demands. He promised a new way of life working with him. (Matthew 11)

In John 5 Jesus tells people that whoever hears his words and believes in the God who sent him has eternal life, a life that begins the moment we place our confidence in him. I do believe and I do listen to or read his words. Jesus came with a simple message of love from the Father, a love that seeks to embrace humanity and we don’t want to place greater expectation on ourselves than he does.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2 that we are rescued (saved), made whole by faith and not by works. The reason for that is said to be so that we don’t take credit or merit for being reconciled to God. I could also well be so that we don’t become uncertain whether or not we have ‘done enough’ to warrant salvation with God.

Certainly there are challenges for every believer. Jesus often says that to love him includes obeying him. (John 14) He tells his followers that listening to his word includes doing his words, taking his advice, fulfilling his commands and certainly if we love God we are going to want to do what God says through his son. Jesus goes so far as to say that if we don’t forgive others then God won’t forgive us. There’s good reason for that law which we will look at in another chapter. But here’s the thing. His laws are not burdensome. (1John 5:3)

Here’s what becomes burdensome; ten thousand different expressions of Christianity. Layers upon layers of doctrines and rituals become legalistic and not life-giving. Jesus came to seek and save the lost folks of this earth, the people who know they need a doctor. He came humbly and lovingly and he enlists us to join him in his work, his Father’s work. Doing that can sometimes seem hard and even carrying the name of Jesus can bring persecution to the extreme of earthly death. But Jesus is with us, loving us, forgiving us when we mess it all up. He promises that nothing can separate us from his love. And he tells us through the Gospel of John that he will not lose any of us who have come to him (John 6).

Is it arrogant to say that all this we have from our Lord guarantees that we belong to him forever? No, I think it is ‘assurance’ that brings with it humility and gratitude to our God as well as the desire to love others in the way he has loved us.

If we read the Gospels this is the picture we will see. This is the story we need to hold on to. And let us not be detoured by another other message. Let no one try to place us in his or her ‘category’. This is Good News. Let us welcome it and the One who brought it to us.

A Weak and Watered Down God Just Won’t Do

As followers of Jesus we are all called to enter the fray of life just like our Lord did. We are told to be ‘in’ the world without being ‘of’ the world. Jesus told his disciples they would be like sheep among wolves. We are to be immersed in the life of this world loving those that are closest to us and seeking to make changes in order that the poor, the widow, the oppressed and marginalized are loved and cared for and invited to live now in the Kingdom of God.

But we cannot approach this life with the weak and watered down version of God that some churches are offering. Our God is Almighty, Powerful, and able to do more than we can even think or imagine.  Some folks don’t even want to call God ‘Father’ anymore. They prefer more inclusive terms. I want a Father who is strong, who can defend me, who knows how to love and protect me. I want the same ‘Father’ whom Jesus called upon. I don’t mind other images of God but don’t take away my Father. The world knows little of the majestic and self giving nature of a good Father. Let us proclaim the Fatherhood of God as the model for all us fathers.

I hear folks uncomfortable with the notion of a crucified Christ, ordained for his cross by his heavenly Father. That seems too abusive they say. They don’t want to think of such cruelty, such weakness. But I want a Lord who was sent by his Father on a mission to rescue humanity, save us, redeem us and willing to give his life for us. Remember when General Eisenhower sent the troops into the hell of D-Day? He sent them fully aware that so many would give up their lives to rescue the world from Hitler.

I don’t was a self-help God preached by many today. This God is just hanging out along side of us showing us how to get back on the right track with just a little more money and personal power and right principles in our own lives. No, my God is righteous and knows that I am broken and demands that I come to Him on his terms through confidence in the blood that was shed for you and me. I want to know the God whose will I want to do, not one who wants to know what I think best. I want to enter through the narrow gate. It might even be a tight squeeze but it’s the right gate. I don’t want any old god who says that it doesn’t matter what you believe or whom you trust. That’s an idol and a devil from hell who would dissuade us from the one true heavenly Father.

I don’t want an accommodating god. I want to accommodate my life to the God in whom I live and breathe and who knows absolutely what is best for me. I want a God whose ethic for life and love challenges me. I do not want comfort unless comfort is found in seeking the will of my Heavenly Father.

We as followers of Jesus have a challenge ahead of us, to preach the Gospel and help others to know God’s love and His Kingdom. To care for the hungry, the homeless, the naked, the widow and orphan. To put an end to killing. And above all to learn the art of forgiveness, probably the greatest challenge and the most narrow gate in the Christian experience.

And to do that and more I want to go with an Almighty, All Loving, Father. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus. I fear it may be a great challenge and any less challenge would require a weaker God.

Listen, when those early Christians faced the lions, the gladiators, the stakes of fire and the crosses what God would they desire to know? They wanted a strong powerful loving Father who though may not rescue them from the fire and the sword would sure bust them out of the grave and bring them into his presence while he continues to create the new heavens and new earth within which they (we) will live forever. That’s my God, and my Lord. I think that was said by doubting Thomas when he met the risen Christ who also was busted out of his grave.