Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Picture of Pride

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." James 1:23-24

Pride is just like Vanity... both are false reflections. We can’t see what's really behind them and that's their purpose - they show us only what we want to see. Ever met someone with so much make-up or such a pretty outfit that it made it hard to see the person behind it all?

Pride dresses up our lives in a way that makes it hard for us to see the truth, even and especially about ourselves. Yet because we can see a reflection, we think we are seeing ourselves as we really are. But to get a proper view of ourselves, we have to stop looking at our own reflection.

The Bible talks about us looking at ourselves in different a mirror – The Word. Jesus.1 This 'mirror' doesn’t reflect our image back to us, it reflects Jesus, exposing the distortions in the image we have of ourselves, and giving us eyes to see how we really are behind the pride that would like to leave us the same way we started. The pride that keeps us from needing Jesus.

Whether puffed up or completely deflated, we simply can not change if we rely on our own reflection to evaluate ourselves2. We will either unnecessarily find fault in others or condone behaviour, comparing it all to our own image. Pride keeps ourselves at the centre and requires everyone else measures up to our standards.

No wonder He resists the proud and give grace to the humble3.

How magnificent is the Cross of Christ? When see the Word and accept it, we see that He (the Word) took our failings, everything about ourselves that we try to hide, dress-up, re-write, puff up and keep up - He took upon Himself, saying “I will bear this for you. I will not leave you with your own reflection, but instead, I will have yours so that you can have Mine". And so, contrary to perception, this sober view of our lives ends not with gloom but with utter joy... For if we will let go of our nature, the Lord will give us His.

When Jacob wrestled with God, God would not bless him until Jacob was honest and stopped hiding his nature behind a labyrinth of lies and a cloak of excuses and pride. "What's your name?"4 God asked. Up until then, Jacob had called himself all sorts of other names - Esau and Son of Rebekah, disguising the fact that his real name was supplanter, deceiver. But the moment he was honest with God about who he was, "Jacob" he said (grabber, supplanter, deceiver, yes that's me Lord) then the Lord touched Jacob and changed him. God gave Jacob a new name, and a new nature. The man who had deceived Esau and been afraid of him, became the man who humbly went out to meet his brother and make amends.

If we want to see God clearly, we can't continue to live in deception about ourselves. And the fabulous news is that when we come out from our hiding place, and lay down our Pride, He makes us into people, who no longer have to hide.

1.      John 1:1
2.      James 1:23-24
3.      1 Peter 5:5
4.      Genesis 32-33

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Faith and Trading

Part 1
Something I have been thinking about is trading in day-to-day relationships. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, that sort of thing and how especially as Believers, we aim to forgive instead of returning debt for debt or nasty comment for nasty comment. We try to let things go. At least I hope so.
But it got me thinking about subtler things. What about if we need to trade a small lie just so that we get our money back on something? Or if we’re not getting our own way and we feel the need to give the silent treatment to our opponent to teach them a lesson? We do these kinds of things to get what we want – using them as currency to purchase an outcome for our own benefit.
We see people all the time using their physical appearance, personality, talents, any number of things, even sympathy to secure something. Everyone does it. The only thing is that God doesn’t. We can’t woo Him with our beauty – He made us. We can’t impress Him with our good deeds - He knows our hearts.
Whatever our currencies are, they purchase us earthly things instead of Heavenly things. But the good news is that when we no longer want the insecurity of this type of trade and we pick up our collection of corrupt coins and take our broken trades to the cross of Jesus Christ, the most amazing thing happens. The Prisoner, the Prostitute, the Bound – are set free. The bible is full of the stories of men and women with corrupt currency, who traded it in for Heaven’s treasure.
Jesus never traded like we do. That’s the thing I really keep thinking about. The currency of earth is corrupt and its one of the reasons He says His ways are not our ways1. Even with all our human temptation, He still refused to trade like us. Instead of responding to lust in a woman, he said ‘you don’t have to trade in that anymore, go and be free’. 2

So since thinking about this I have been going to the cross with my 'stuff' and I now have a growing collection of new currencies in place of the old. Perhaps one would say.. new wine? And I’m finding out that Heaven’s coins purchase things like security and peace, Christlike relationships and freedom for other people... Sometimes it means I forfeit something that I wanted, but it's okay, I'd rather not have it if the path to acquisition is astray.

Trading is powerful. Every single trade is a purchase, no matter who it is with, or what it is for. So... buy things that live forever, things that don't need dusting and will never fade away!

Part 2
Jesus trades in faith3. He never manipulates. He never controls. He never lies, tricks or coerces. No - this is OUR character. When God trades, He trades by His character alone. Salvation is based on God's character, not mine, and so is faith.

Faith is the only place where MY focus isn't on ME! But its on Jesus. It's very hard to focus on the Lord's Character and still have faith in my own. If you don't know the Lord's nature and character, especially in an area of struggle - find out, read the bible, become aquainted with who He is. Seek Him with all your heart.4

"Who do you say I am?” Jesus asked Simon Peter. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” Peter answered.
The faith trade with Jesus may be as simple as our own personal answer to the question Jesus asked Peter. Who do you say Jesus is?

I’ve heard people say that to have faith is to believe for a certain outcome or to believe in the healing, or in the Vision. That we determine thr fruit of our faith and God is obliged to bless it. But what if faith isn't about outcome - its about a person - JESUS - and 'outcome' is the fruit of that faith.

For the person who believes that Jesus is Who He says He is - the son of the living God - and believes that His words are true... they will trade everything they have5 : all their broken and even polished currencies to know Him and with that person Jesus trades everything He has too... to this person He gives the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven6.

1. Isaiah 55:8
2. John 8:11
3. Hebrews 11:64
4. Deuteronomy 4:29
5. Matthew 13:44-45
6. Matthew 16:13-20