Who’s Responsible?

I’m struggling with something. It’s not a sin that is a thorn in my side, or some problem of epic proportions. No, it’s theological, I guess.

I’m struggling with something I’m calling “My Responsibility vs. God’s Responsibility.” It’s related to faith versus works, but’s more all-encompassing. First, here’s how I got here. Here’s the backstory.

There was a Scripture that my former pastor was clinging to throughout his year and a half at my former church. It was John 11:40, which reads:

“Did I not tell that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

That’s Jesus speaking. It’s written in red in my Bible. I pay special attention to the passages written in red because they are coming from the lips of the Son of God.

In this context, Jesus is speaking to Mary and Martha, whose brother has died while Jesus took his time in coming to see his friends. He didn’t rush to the bedside while Lazarus was sick and his sisters are miffed.

And we know the rest of the story. The stone was rolled away and Lazarus was resurrected from the dead. It may have been the second-most dramatic miracle by Jesus. And because of the words of Jesus in John 11:40, (and because of the “baggage” I carry from my former church and probably my own past) I see a cause and effect. Am I the only one who processes this Scripture this way?

My thinking is: Because of the sisters’ “belief” or faith, God’s glory was shown in the resurrection of Lazarus. If you believe enough, therefore, you will see God’s glory. If you have enough faith, God will show Himself, God will breakthrough, God will work His miracles. Right??

And if God doesn’t breakthrough… if that miracle doesn’t happen… then I guess you don’t have enough faith. That was I processed through that Scripture and that teaching.

I left the church in August of 2013. Then I discovered freedom. I found freedom in the message of God’s one-way love. I found new freedom in the Gospel. Here’s what I wrote in my journal and blog on May 25th:

I know some of you think I’ve “gone ’round the bend”, because I keep posting about this “new” or “fresh” encounter I’ve had with God’s love. It is an encounter with the finished work on the Cross by Jesus. It is the love of Jesus that has changed me.

But some of you think I’ve gone crazy. You think I’m nuts because I keep posting stuff like:

Because Jesus won, I’m free to lose.
… because Jesus was strong, I’m free to be weak.
… because Jesus was someone, I’m free to be no one.
… because Jesus was the ultimate leader, I’m free and content to be a follower.
… because Jesus was (is) extraordinary, I’m free and content to be ordinary.
… because Jesus succeeded, I am free to fail.
… because ‘It is finished’, the work is done.

There is such freedom in those words, but there’s more.

I’ve said it before but I have to say it again and again because it is such Good News: There’s nothing I can do to make God love me more and nothing I can do to make God love me less. There is nothing I can do to repay God. There is nothing I can do to curry God’s favor, including surrendering more.

All of us so easily fall into a trap of measuring our own righteousness. We measure it by how much we pray. We measure it by how much we read our Bibles. We measure it by our behavior day-by-day. We measure how we talk, what we drink, and even by how much or what we eat. We measure ourselves against others. But when we measure, by definition, we are self-righteous. We become legalists. We become like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

I don’t want to keep falling back into a trap thinking that IT depends on me. “IT” may be salvation, favor, answers to prayers, miracles, or God’s glory manifesting itself among us in some way. My job is to remain faithful. God will always be faithful, even when I’m not.

The only time or the only way IT depends on me is when I receive a fresh revelation of God’s one-way, unconditional love found in Christ Jesus. When I finally understand… REALLY understand… then I am changed. I am compelled by the love of God (the Holy Spirit) inside me to live my life differently.

That’s Good News.

One thought on “Who’s Responsible?

  1. I Luv Ur posts!! U put into words what He’s been (trying to) teaching me for 40 years.

    He has His part, I have mine. I can’t do His, (but,BOY,do.I.try) The good news is he helps me do my part when I ask.

    I’ve struggled with knowing when and why He does things for and through me. If He is soveriegn, why pray? Does He need my prayers to know what I need? That sounds so silly when I go back and read it.

    How do I measure my “spirituality”? Am I even s’pose to? Others certainly do it, and I do to them. Although, not as much as I used to. (most days)

    I came across a new way to measure my spiritual condition a while back, thx to Joyce Myers. She was relating that The Lord had impressed upon her that it was important for her to take her shopping cart to the designated storage area before driving away instead of leaving it in the middle of the lot. “What if one of my listeners sees me leaving it abandoned where it doesn’t belong?”

    Now, every time I come out of the store, I think… “If I REALLY Love God, I’ll put this (stoopid) cart where it belongs.”

    The damage comes when it turns into: “If I want God to Love me, I MUST put this (stoopid) cart away!”

    Or… “LookitHer/Him – (s)he doesn’t Love God like I do… I put my cart away and (s)he didn’t!” The ultimate judgement becomes: “God doesn’t Love him/her the way He does me!”

    Now, don’t misunderstand! I enjoy listening to J.M. Her Godly wisdom and insight has blessed me many times. And I may very well have not understood what she was saying that day. God may have been teaching her a lesson in discipline she needed. But I also know that many of the ways in which I judge the spirituality of myself and others are just as silly as whether or not I put a shopping cart in its proper place.

    And Satan laughs as we do his work for him!


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