(Daniel 3:16-18) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer thee in this matter. (3:17) If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king. (3:18) But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Have you been taught to pray as though God is either a wish-granting Genie, or gracious grandfather benefactor? We are told that we should boldly ask for whatever we think we want and then wait for it, believing we will get it. “Ask and ye shall receive” is the most often quoted Scripture in the plethora of religious self-help books that delineate the simple steps you can take to realize everything you have ever wanted. While this is the underpinning of the prosperity message, it’s also taken to another extreme, in some religious circles, as the definition of “having faith”–believe enough and ye will receive.
However, if what we ask for does not materialize, this same doctrinal creed will defend its position by claiming that we did not receive because we did not have enough faith, and that’s why our loved one died or we didn’t get the job we wanted. It wasn’t God’s will, it was our lack of faith.
This is where the limits of human understanding and skewed interpretation of Scripture let us down, and keep us at arm’s length from the simple liberating truth. Unfortunately, this also fails God as well, confining Him within the humanistically myopic boundaries we establish to keep Him neatly contained and thus easier for us to comprehend.
At issue here is the draconian dogma of religionists who propose to define God for us, who draft lists of what we must and must not do in order to stay on God’s good side so that we can remain afloat above hard times, avoiding the trials and tribulations of life on earth and “prosper” because that is what they claim is all God really wants for us.
This is when the act of “faith” is elevated to idol status and can be purchased by the act of adhering to a check list of devised behaviors or “works”. We are made to believe we can earn our way into favor by simply performing correctly, thereby proving that we have the correct kind of faith so that God will then bless us abundantly.
Eat, don’t eat, celebrate, don’t celebrate, how to dress, how to speak, how to think, how and what day to gather to worship. Worship who/what though? The Leader? The Rules? Performance Faith? This is where the water goes all muddy. Seems to me Christ is somewhat irrelevant in the modern representations of Christianity, whether in formal established denominations or errant off the beaten path fundamentalistic/charismatic incarnations.
If we are to accept modern interpretation, apparently good acting/performing is the key to avoid adversity and reap material blessings. All one must do is look and behave like a Christian. And the new definition of Christian is? Anyone who can successfully appear to be good, appear to say and do the correct things, to have the correct kind of faith, and who faithfully adheres to the list, the creed, the rules and forks over 10% of net. The problem is, where is Christ in all this good acting? When did the focus shift from what He wants for us to the importance of us, our performance, and heart’s desires?
When we are looking through clear water we see that faith is believing that, no matter what, He knows what is best for us. Even Jesus prayed, “...not my will but thine...”. He understood, there in the quiet anguish of Gethsemane, that, though His fleshly desire would be to willingly skip the tribulation that loomed ahead, He knew His Father’s will was better.
Are we grateful He didn’t argue, whine, wail and moan about what He had to endure...for us?
In the simplest of terms, a “Christian” is one who trusts/believes that Christ and His will for us is where our heart’s desires should be; believing that by His strength, that we can freely draw upon, even in the worst of circumstances, is all we really need no matter what we think we want. When you truly understand this, you will never have to float above adversity because He will keep you shored up even in the middle of adversity. True faith is about Him not us.
Conclusion: There is no better place to be than in His will. If you didn’t get what you thought you wanted, thank Him.
“God can do it, but if He doesn’t, He is still my God. I will bow to no idol.”…Blessed are the saints of the If Nots!” ~Vance Havner
(John 16:33) These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The peace beyond all understanding comes not from getting what you asked for, but accepting that God knows better than you what you should have, even when it means passing through adversity to end up with what you didn’t know you needed. ~T. Glady