I had a discussion with some Christian leaders recently about the tensions found in scripture. For example, Jeremiah the prophet tells us that God hides His face from those who practice evil and avoid the truth.
“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah.”
At the same time, the Psalmist said in Psalm 67:1 “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us.”
Somewhere between these two extremes is where most of us live. Many Christians only gravitate to verses of scripture that primarily focus on the emphasis where Gods face is shining on them, but refuse to acknowledge their responsibility to live according to His will. There is a tension between knowing that God pursues us, and knowing at the same time we have a responsibility to live up to His standards.
In relation to this, I was asked recently if there were things that I did that made God hide His face from me? I loved the question, but it was much harder to answer. No one wants to admit we do things that may not be pleasing to God, and even a harder time trying to identify our shortcomings. Living between the tensions means we need to be quick to seek God in worship, and be quick to repent when in the wrong. I don’t think you can do one without the other. There is a great need for people to have the assurance that God loves them and to know His mercy is quick to forgive and restore them to His fellowship. However, at the same time God requires that we acknowledge sin and make confession in accordance with His law of forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 “ I we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
How do you see yourself living between these tensions? Another way of describing this tension is to say, Jesus Christ is my Savior and my Judge. When you stand before the cross you are asked to deny yourself pick up your cross and come and follow Jesus. When we die and stand before God He will first judge us to see if we are His and then secondly, He will distribute the rewards due you for your service to Him. Here again we see the tension between coming to faith (no works involved) and the rewards (the doing for God) of living for Him.
2 Corinthians 5:10 ““We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
So living between the tensions is the normal routine for the Christian so don’t think there is something wrong with you if God suddenly feels absent. His absence may be His way of helping you to identify your lack of dependence upon Him. Too often our desperation for God only comes when life goes wrong and we need Him to straighten it out. How much more honoring it is to God that your desperation for Him isn’t due to crisis, but is a desire to know Him?
Paul described this tension best when he said in Philippians 4:11-13
“I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation — to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”
Living between the tensions will become more prevalent as the world moves deeper into the last days as the Bible describes them. So whether we abound, whether are persecuted, whether we feel abandoned or disappointed, our faith remains in tact because we know that ‘we can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Stay strong, take courage and be immovable for Christ.
Keeping it honest and truthful….K