Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Selective Obedience by Dudley Hall

Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of following Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ... (Philippians 3:8)

A great revelation is underway: God is exposing the fallacy of the "American Dream" gospel in order for his people to embrace the gospel of the New Testament.

A popular version of the lesser gospel that is being exposed involves using biblical principles to improve one's life. Those who look at the Bible as an instruction book have not interpreted it correctly.  The Bible is a narrative of God's progressive revelation climaxing in the exaltation of Christ. Instead of allowing the New Testament to reveal the full revelation of God's nature and purpose, many have selected some principles that seem to make life work better and tried to apply them to the goal of attaining the fulfillment of personal aspirations.  This inevitably leads to an adoption of the Old Testament's definition of terms and seeking to use Jesus to get desired results. Taking the shadows of the Old Testament revelation as ultimate, one can define prosperity in terms of physical comfort, convenience, power and influence. Jesus is simply part of the equation to reach those goals.

How different is the New Testament gospel! It interprets the shadows of the Old Testament as pointing to the substance of a life of intimate fellowship with God himself where he alone is sufficient to satisfy all legitimate desires. Paul got it. He had only one goal - to discover the riches hidden in Christ. He was willing to undertake whatever it took to find those riches. 

We tend to take some of the commands of Christ seriously, and others we dismiss. We like it when we are commanded to "come unto me all of you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Yet we choose to reinterpret the command to "go and make disciples of all nations." We conclude that is for the preachers and missionaries and not for the rest.  If we should apply that command, it might interfere with our goals to live in prosperity and peace in the comforts of our American Dream.  Now that there is evidence that the Dream is not producing what it promised, we are praying and working for ways to return to the principles that will restore the former "prosperity."

There is a higher goal. We have been invited by God himself to enjoy the fellowship of the Godhead. We can be as delighted in God the Father as Jesus is. We can enjoy the love of the Father as much as Jesus does. We can be a part of the divine plan to proclaim the good news that God is reconciling the world unto himself through Jesus. There is a life to be embraced. It is called eternal life, and it is not primarily about going to heaven. It is about a satisfying relationship available now.

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