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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Filled Lives

Wouldn't it be nice to "not need a thing"?  To be so "set" in life, nothing we could buy or be given is really needed.  It is nearing the holidays again, so it is time for folks to start making their wish-lists.  You know what I mean - little ones are not even finished carving their pumpkins, but their list for Santa is growing by the minute!  Now, if you were to ask a child what they "needed", their list would include the latest super-hero characters, a new building set, or probably an electric scooter.  If you ask an adult, their "needs" would be a little loftier - like a new set of tires for the car, the full collection of James Bond movies which was just released this summer, or the shiny new appliance down at the local retailer.  We probably have been asked what we want, only to answer back, "I have everything I need.  I don't need anything else."  It is likely true - we have a lot of stuff!  But "stuff" doesn't fill the most important gap in our lives!

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.  
(I Corinthians 1:7-9 MSG)  

Paul puts it well - you (and I) don't need a thing - because we've received all we need in the person of Christ.  We've got it all!  What we often fail to recognize is just how much we have been given in Christ.  Some of us only look at Christ as "fire insurance" - a means to avoid hell in the hereafter.  Others of us see Christ as a nice person - filling us with good feelings on occasion.  Still others see Christ as a means to an end - thinking being "in Christ" entitles us to some sort of place of privilege.  The issue with each of these "views" is their lack of connection with the work of Christ in our lives.

Jesus is indeed our "means" to avoid hell, but we miss out on so much more if all we do is buy a piece of property and never see it developed!  We indeed experience some "warm fuzzies" once in a while because we have Christ in our lives - maybe because we experience peace for the first time.  Yet, to focus on the "warm feelings" knowing him produces never helps us to focus on living "above" our feelings.  Seeing Jesus as our "sugar-daddy" (the one who we go to whenever we have a need and then expect it to be met lickety split) makes us guilty of treating God as our servant - something totally backward to God's plan of us being his servants.

So, to get this right, let's look at what Paul says again.  All God's gifts are right in front of us.  This is the focus, not just that we avoid hell, get warm feelings, or have God at our service.  What Paul is trying to do is help us see the thing right in front of our eyes which we have such a hard time focusing on correctly.  We possess all the "gifts" we will ever need - we just have to become familiar with how they operate in our lives.  To this end, Paul tells us God is right there alongside - getting us started and seeing us become proficient in their use!

God gets us started - he also sees us through to the end.  In many cases, we give God access to "get things started" in our lives, but I wonder how many times we don't pay attention long enough to let him see it through to the end?  We have the "warm fuzzy" experience (I call these my "aha" moments) - but then after life begins to kick up around you again, you don't remember the "warm fuzzy" as much as you "feel" the presence of the present issue.  The work God began is still being "worked" - we are just not keenly aware of it if we are just focusing on the "feeling" of the moment.  Chances are, the present issue is just another means to bring out something within where God is focusing his attention.  

Look at what Paul says are the two actions of God on our behalf "after" he gives us the gifts:  keeping us steady and on track.  So, in giving us the gifts, he knows we need to know how to use them.  I have some "toys" (the electronic type) which I have purchased over the years.  I learn some of the basic stuff - like how to turn them on, get them to play the songs I want to hear, and the like.  Yet, I never really use them to their full potential.  I possess a smart phone - probably smarter than the user!  I need a tutorial in using some of its features, but I don't take the time to find out much about the "other stuff" it can do because I am comfortable with what it already does for me!

I wonder how many times we approach God's gifts this way - not really concerned with how much more they could be developed in us simply because we are content with what we have already experienced.  If I only used my smart phone to make and receive calls, I really did not need a smart phone!  If I use it to alert me to my next appointments, keep my grocery list in, and be a tickler of upcoming birthdays, I am getting the hang of using it, but still way below its potential.  If I actually begin to explore the apps, I may begin to surf the web, purchase a meal on the way home which will be waiting for me as I arrive at the local restaurant pick-up window, and even regulate my home air conditioning for me while away.  I am coming closer to using this device as its "designer" intended.

God gives us gifts which will only reveal their full potential in our lives when we really nuzzle up to him and learn how to apply them in our lives!  Just as with my smart phone, we have to "use the apps" he gives us!  The "gaps" in our lives are best "filled" with the gifts of God.  First with his presence, then with all which comes as a result of his indwelling Spirit within.  Just sayin!