Wednesday, January 9, 2013

fanatic or faithful?

Chambers pointed out a problem I often have this morning in My Utmost for His Highest
when he noted,

Beware of being obsessed with consistency to your own convictions instead of being devoted to God.  If you are a saint and say, “I will never do this or that,” in all probability this will be exactly what God will require of you…The important consistency in a saint is not to a principle but to the divine life….It is easier to be an excessive fanatic than it is to be consistently faithful, because God causes an amazing humbling of our religious conceit when we are faithful to Him.”

We are free to have preferences. We are free to have different preferences. Even within the body of Christ, there can be freedom to follow one’s convictions. The danger is not in being too free, it is in being too demanding. This takes place within two realms

1. With others – We can quickly become too demanding of others in attempting to enforce our preferences over their personality. We make into law something that is perhaps helpful to us, but not necessary for another. We make the mistake of assuming that everyone is like us. We make maxims from methods. If this is how we best get here or keep from going there, then anyone who tries another way is wrong. That is not to say that sometimes people really are right and others really are wrong. The point is that we often turn secondary matters into principled reasons for causing distraction and brokenness. We become fanatical about things we previously were not passionate. We fan into flame our passions and make them the barometer by which we judge others. We find one thing and make it everything. We make idols out of the one good thing we know when that one thing is not the One who made us.

2. With God – We develop an understanding of what we think God wants from us and devote ourselves entirely to it. We run with the nugget and abandon the mine. Abraham is a perfect example of abandoning a principle in order to embrace God. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. As difficult as this must have been, Abraham, by faith began early the next morning the steps to do what he heard the Word say. Abraham got all the way to the point of binding Isaac and placing him on a stone. Knife raised and conviction guiding his movements, he gathered himself and set his mind and body to following through with the outcome of his devotion to God’s command. "STOP!" Just then, when adrenaline and conviction were at their highest, God stopped Abraham and told him to unbind Isaac. God provided a ram which Abraham saw caught in a thicket. It required faith in God to abandon his course of action. Abraham demonstrates for us faith not only in the offering up of Isaac, but in the abandonment of his conviction. Imagine how strong that conviction had to be. Strong enough to offer up your only son. How committed must he have been? And to release even that to God. To listen. To stop. Abraham was not wrong to offer up Isaac. He could not have been more right. However, Abraham would have been wrong to kill Isaac after God said, “STOP!”

To be a fanatic, you need only to listen once.
To be faithful, you must listen daily.

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