Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Greatest Lie We Believe: Present Presence?

"Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!"

      This quote comes from the book Screwtape Letters by the famous author C.S. Lewis(for those unfamiliar with the book it is a series of fictional letters written from one elder demon to a younger demon instructing him on how to attack a certain young christian's faith). This quote comes from the very first letter in the book and teaches us something very profound about the warfare of the enemy in his attack of humans. He doesn't teach us evil, but rather slurs and blurs the truth so that we will live crippled lives.

       We know that this is true by what we read in Genesis 3 and the way Satan tempts Eve by getting her to doubt and ultimately disregard the truth of God and by getting her to follow the lie she falls in sin, missing the life God would have for her and Adam

      One of the greatest tragedies in the church today I believe is that our brains have for so long believed and taught some of the Enemies lies that we are missing the lives God would have for us and we don't even know it. The next few posts will address some of the lies that I have observed or believed myself. First addressing them, then exposing them to the truth so that as the Bible says "the truth shall set you free".

       One of these such lies is not necessarily taught explicitly but is definitely implied in our church jargon is the idea of God being present with us that is commonly held in the church today. 

        Allow me to explain. How often have we said after a really emotional time of worship that God is definitely among us. Or that we just want to be feel as if we are BURNING with a fire for the Lord. That in those mountain top experiences of life we feel as if God is so close.

        Did you notice the common denominator in those phrases? Every phrase had to do with the idea of our feelings being connected to the presence of God. Which when our emotions are high makes perfect sense.

         But what about when we sing songs and there isn't a "fire" in our chests? or What about when we are in the valleys and our emotions seem to be running dry? The question that comes to many a young believer then is commonly: "Where is God? He used to be so near but now I feel alone.

         This my friends is one of the greatest lies we believe: That God's presence is tied to our emotion. 

          So when we feel the ooey-gooeys in worship He is near, but when we are in a desert time of life He has left us. This theology is so very dangerous because it leads to two really crippling results.

1) This idea of emotion=presence can lead to us pursuing an emotional high rather than pursuing God. We often will pray for hours and sing songs not so that we are communing with God but so that we can feel that "Fire" in our chest once again. God has called us to Himself, and sometimes we are rewarded with emotional elation because of that. The difference we must recognize is that elation is merely an occasional benefit of the pursuit, not the object of pursuit.

2.)When we don't "feel" God it can send us into a spiral wondering what we did wrong to get to this spot. The truth is that we so often believe that life's experiences are determined by our actions. So when the "fire" is put out or feels weak, a lot of times we start to wonder and question what we did wrong to get ourselves there. This is very different from what the Bible teaches us about hard times. As a matter of fact the Bible in several areas tells us to rejoice in times of suffering(James 1, Romans 5). The truth is that in those tough times God is often molding us to a better image of His Son, so that we can be more faithful lights in the mountaintops. So ultimately we remember that God has a purpose and is in control therefore all we need to do is trust Him.

      But possibly the most destructive part of this whole lie of emotion=presence is that we forget arguably one of the most important and comforting promises from God in the entire Bible. 

         Hebrews 13:5 "... I will never leave you or forsake you" 

       God will never abandon us and He never leaves. His presence is constant in spite of our changing emotions. So the greatest challenge but pleasure of the believer is to learn to pursue God regardless of emotion, because regardless of emotion He is present with him ready to be pursued.

         So may we walk in the truth of God instead of believing the lies of the enemy, so that we can enjoy the loving life-giving relationship with God that He intended for us.

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