April 25, 2010
In The Misunderstood God, (page 95-96) Darin Hufford writes:
“Our mind-set is…”He must become greater, and we must become less.” Our selves must be drained out and become conformed to Jesus. Our modern-day view of Christlikeness is tainted by a belief in a self-seeking God. We’ve come to see Christ-likeness as the same as being Christ-impersonators, and so we live in a world of competition where people do their best to impersonate their personal idea of Jesus. Sadly, many of us lose our own identity in the process.”
When I read that the first time, I really wondered about it. But I think I see what the writer is saying. It is interesting – we, as different members of the Christian community, use the same words and phrases to mean very different things, even things that are almost opposites. So when we read something, we immediately assume the writer is using the words/phrases in the same way we do. And we then assume that he/she has drawn wrong conclusions about the whole concept.
So I read this chapter over again, because my first reaction was – no way! But I think, on re-reading, that maybe he is saying:
Christlikeness = the real essence of relationship with Jesus – joy realized through relationship with Him – the purpose of our being
Christ-impersonators = shallow, copying outward behaviors, without getting into relationship and taking on Christ’s character. My efforts based on my ideas about Jesus.
I believe that we MUST be conformed to Jesus. What is tainted, I suspect, is how we interpret that….
A couple pages later (page 99), Hufford writes:
“God’s first concern is your happiness and fulfillment. His desire is to give you abundant life. His gifts are to enhance your life and bring you the most joy possible.”
Okay! When I first read this, I found myself thinking, “Wait! That’s not correct theology, it is”? And yet – my experience in my relationship with Father tells me that happiness, fulfillment, abundant and enhanced life, and joy, are exactly what He has given me. Those are exactly the outcomes I have gained in relationship with Him….
Hufford goes on to write:
“His kingdom is not about Him; it’s about you, and it does not benefit Him one iota until He sees that you are receiving that fulfillment.”
Well!?! Of course, there wouldn’t even be a kingdom if He hadn’t created us. And He certainly did create us so He could express His love in relationship with us, His creatures. So… maybe this IS right? Papa? Really?
“We’ve been trained to believe that God gets a kick out of calling us in the opposite direction of where we want to go, as though it’s always a test to see if we will serve Him over the things we desire. Love simply does not think that way. It doesn’t look to be served. Love serves, remember?”
I wonder. Did I really used to think that way? Yes, maybe, before I really decided to accept Jesus, because I wanted to be cool, and I figured that following Jesus would end any chance at coolness. And I guess there have been times when I’ve felt like I’m forbidden to “have fun” … And I know that I’ve experienced some of the kind of “training” the writer speaks of, which is probably a good part of the reason it took me so long to turn to Jesus. But …
In the past while, my experience has been that GOD LOVES ME! God wants what is best for me! God actually is pleased to see me have fun and joy in my life. God does want me to use to full potential the gifts He has given me. God encourages me, helps me, guides me … oh my goodness! Then that means… God serves me!!!
Oh my. That last phrase is amazing. It almost sounds heretical. And yet… Jesus Himself said He came to serve … and He proved it, over and over and over…
And when we receive God’s love, we too long to serve – Him and others – willingly, joyfully, with awe and wonder and dancing – because that is true: love serves!!! Therefore, God serves. (And it has nothing at all to do with “deserving it.” Nothing. Zero. Zippo)
Hocus pick! Praise God! You are wonderful! I love You!
YOU LOVE ME!