Monday, July 23, 2018

Stronghold Starter #5: Insecurity, Fear, Lack of Trust: God is Not Reliable. I Take Care of Me.

Whew.  This one is HUGE.

I trust God...How dare you say I don't?

I am a Christian.  Of course, I trust God.

I have faith.  I decree it.  I claim it in Jesus' name.  God does it.  What more do you want?

Yes, I have fear.  But I love God.  Trust?  Wow.  I just don't know...

OK.  This can be a sensitive subject, because it sounds like a formula:

I accepted Jesus in faith + I am a new creation = God wants the best for me 

Let's look at the disciples. They walked every day for three years as followers of Jesus. They saw Him eat, sleep, walk on water, feed thousands, raise the dead, heal, confront, turn over tables in the Temple and a whole lot more. John comments that "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-1)

Yet they still, in spite of all this, needed forgiveness. Grace. More faith. More trust. So, this is not an accusation, but an acknowledgement of our proclivity to rely on ourselves when the going gets tough.  
We all know the story of the man who believed in Jesus, yet wanted more belief: 

"Jesus said to him, 'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.'

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!'"(Mark 9:23-4)

The father had some faith, or he would not have approached Jesus.  But he realized very quickly that his faith was not up to the enormous task--perhaps for the first time in a long time he could not rely on himself to figure it out.  He was afraid.  He may have thought that God was unreliable, for if sickness or demon possession is punishment from God, how could his son from birth be guilty?  The son's torment did not fit into a neat category, and cast doubt about the goodness of God.  

This is at the heart of this Stronghold Starter: Pride whispers in our ear that we are foolish to rely on God because how could He allow something so horrible to happen in the first place?  We are afraid that our whole belief system and our faith are lies.  We feel insecure, because if God is not reliable, then who can you trust?  

We turn to ourselves.  We try to control the situation with our _______________.  We get limited results, but they are results, darn it!  We didn't have to wait and wait and wait!  We did something now.  

Now, what if that blank is filled in with the word, "faith"?  Uh-oh.  Now we are stepping on the toes of those who believe this way:  My faith is a gateway to God's blessing.  More faith, more blessings.  My faith unlocks the treasure chest of all that God wants me to have--money, health, prosperity, my best life--and with my faith operational, the chest flies open and I am flooded with His goodness towards me. 

But what about the one who says, Am I?  But my child is still sick.  I did not get the promotion.  I didn't get that car I wanted, for the loan was turned down.  The results from my examination came back positive and so I must return to my doctor for more treatments.  

Solution?  More faith, of course.  I haven't released enough.  I have negatively confessed my worries, concerns, fears, and insecurity, and so no wonder:  my faith is stifled by my words.  I must get more faith.  God wants all the good that heaven holds for me, so if it's not raining down and making my desert bloom, it's me.  Help me in my, wait!  Help me to speak only faith-filled words.  

Where is God in all of this?  I, I, I...starts every sentence.  

God is my Servant, released to do His best for me by my faith.  

But is God reliable?  Will He released those things He has for me even if my faith is weak?  Did Jesus withhold healing of the demon-possessed boy because the father's faith was weak?  No.  Jesus healed the boy because God is good.  

So, why is the Prosperity Gospel so popular in the US?  In the Third World?  It packaged skillfully but at its root is the same idea:  Get Faith, Get the Goodies of God.  Lack Faith, Lack Getting the Goodies of God.

Harsh?  No, because I have spent time with this gospel and those who follow it.  I find it disturbing, because it appeals to the "I" that we all have. But more to the point, it appeals to a fundamental belief that God is not good in and of Himself, but needs us to release His goodness by our faith.  

We won't call Him "unreliable" until our son dies, our job is taken away, or our health breaks down.  We might not say it at first, but after many years of mustering faith and our lives still have struggles, failures and pain, we grow weary.  

The formula doesn't work and God's character is called into question.

BOOM!  That is exactly what Satan wants.  He is always trying to assassinate God's character.  What better way than to twist the Gospel and the idea of faith, have a large number of people join up watching wealthy preachers who seem to have unlocked God's blessings, and then one day, no matter how great the faith, the answer doesn't come.  

We don't see those folks at altar.  We don't see those folks at the church.  They are gone, because God's "failure" (really, it's the faulty teaching) has shown Him to be "unreliable."

They have come to a place where they trust only themselves.  Satan is smiling.  

Finally, how do people get attracted to such a gospel?  Unspoken but compelling reasons exist deep in the hearts of people I have seen with these beliefs:

God didn't protect me when I was abused, so He owes me.  My daddy/brutish male figure ain't controlling me, I am controlling Daddy.  

Had an absentee dad, so now my heavenly Father will fulfill my longing for material goods.  

I have power now.  I have felt so powerless over the years, but in this church, I am excited again!  I can decree it and God will answer me!

My life is a sad accumulation of poor choices, but when I speak in faith, I am no longer affected by those choices.  For awhile, at least.  

I am more spiritually attuned than those other churches that teach of Christ's suffering and having to wait on God.  No way.  God wants it for me now, so my faith releases it now!

My heart hurts for those who stand broken on this road, with Satan whispering in their hearts about how more faith is needed, how God is holding out, how He is unreliable.

Jesus, Who never had a beautiful home, lots of money, prestige, fame and followers is for the rest of us, who cry out, "Lord, help me in my unbelief."

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