Friday, January 8, 2010

God Won't Cohabit

One of the scriptures assigned for Sunday, January 10 is from Acts 8.  The chapter tells how God turns an attack on Christians into an evangelistic campaign.  Christians who managed to escape couldn't help but tell others what God had been doing in their lives.

Even though they had been threatened, and even though many of their Christian friends had been put in prison because they were Christians, those Christian believers still thought it was an excellent, wonderful thing to belong to the Lord Jesus--they wanted others to know the good news.  So they let others know.  They spoke God's Word and, as they did, God did amazing things.  Destructive spirits were driven out and the sick and injured were healed.  And, believe it or not, God still does the same things today.

The part of Acts 8 I'd like to focus on begins with verse 9:
Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! 21 You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.” 24 Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.

25 Now after Peter and John had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many villages of the Samaritans.
God uses the darkest times of our lives to shine his light.  When we are the most desperate God is the most available.  When we are empty, we can be filled with the amazing Holy Spirit of God.

One trouble with Simon, and, sometimes, the trouble with me, is that I think I somehow am good (or "great" -- as Simon thought he was in verse 9).  But if I am full of my own abilities or my own accomplishments or my own "goodness" there is no place left for God.   

God won't cohabit.  God is jealous and wants all of me.  So then, my seniority, my experience, my wisdom--if, like Simon, I see the power of God and want to participate in that--all of that has to go--and if God is in my life, his love will make me want his power, so I can make a difference in the lives of the millions and billions in the world that hurt so much every day. To be effective for God, the first thing is emptying myself of everything that does not come directly from his grace, his mercy, his love.  As Paul writes in Philippians 3:
7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death...
Perhaps that's why God's power in the world today seems more evident among the poor and the uneducated and the truly desperate.  If we are called to make a difference in the world, the first things is to empty ourselves and make ourselves available to be filled by God.

More on this subject later...

No comments:

Post a Comment