To embrace God is to allow his desires to rule in our hearts.
To know God is to share his joy and therefore also his grief. If any person is
to love God, he or she must be prepared to grieve over the things that grieve
God. To come to God is to have our hearts broken by God’s sadness, not only for
the world he loves but also for us. To be embraced by God is to be shattered by
the revelation of all that grieves God in our lives. It is to be devastated by
the reality that we are the cause of the greatest suffering in the
universe: the suffering of God.
is a sign that there is something wrong with our relationship with God. The
solution to disobedience, therefore, is not simply to start “doing the right
things.” If the fruit is bad, we don’t focus on curing the fruit; we cure the
tree. This is why so many Christians go around and around in circles when
trying to deal with personal sin. They deal with it by trying harder not to sin
It never works. Something has to change in the heart. Inevitably, the problem
comes down to some kind of relational breakdown, often between themselves and
others, and always between themselves and God.
We’ve built our modern churches on the assumption that God works through a few talented, impressive, and wealthy people. And we give all the other people comfortable seats from which they can be blessed by what God does through these leaders and influencers.
I honestly believe we in the American Church need to get on our knees and repent of our condescending attitudes toward God’s Holy Spirit. We have read Scripture’s clear statements about the Spirit manifesting Himself through every Christian, but we’ve decided we know better, these people aren’t ready for anything serious, and it will be more effective if the talented few do all the heavy lifting.
There is a tendency among Christians to be engrossed in an attempt to determine God’s will for each decision in their lives. Many such decisions can be made with more precision and more legitimate reason, however, if they are measured against the long-range will of God that is revealed throughout God’s Word. Instead of seeking specific verses for turning points in our lives, we will be far better equipped to make sound decisions if we have a grasp of God’s revealed will for the Christian, for the church and for the world. This requires a sweeping understanding of Scripture as a whole. That does not mean we cannot pray for guidance day by day; it does mean that there should be a spiritual maturing in our lives that gives us a solid foundation for making biblically informed decisions.
For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has
appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in
spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is
simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can
never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in peace of
mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in
such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather
it is a privilege.
Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with
a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us
pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink, but let this only
be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall
hereafter be revealed in and for us.
I never made a sacrifice.
David Livingstone (1813-1873), Pioneer missionary to Africa.
We have no more the moral reasoning to arrive at all of this. So I think the last bastion of this that is left as far as I’m concerned, you can go to scientific proofs, you can go to design proofs, you can go to so many other things. But the average person who really opens up their eyes and is listening to you recognizes there has to be a moral framework with which I do my thinking. What is it that makes me a person or a creature of value? So in that essential nature is the image of God. The image of God gives to me moral reasoning. We cannot communicate truth while compromising the implications of truth.
So I would say how you communicate in this society is conviction with compassion. Convictions are very different to opinions. Opinions are something that you hold to. Convictions are those which hold you. You can change an opinion – one time you might like blue and next year you might like green – it’s okay. But you cannot change your convictions about the sacredness of life or the sacredness of sexuality or love and those that you put into this category. The challenge to the Christian is how to communicate conviction with compassion.
Everything He had done since that “silent night” in Bethlehem, and everything He was about to go through, was to this end: to give eternal life to the men and women given by the Father to the Son. He immediately defined it, for our sakes, with this: “This is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”