God

Cumulative God

Cumulative God

by Eric Kopp

I believe that when we present things of God we should seek them in a cumulative fashion rather than a factorization approach.

In a factorization approach you break the whole up into parts. These nuggets though good if ever presented on their own miss the point and/or become something other than the whole.

Example:

The number 24 is built from the these components (2,2,2,3) The lowest factor of this is 2 and the highest of it is 3.

2 and 3 alone do not make up the whole truth of what 24 is. In fact they are parts of lots of other truths like 26 and 28. If I were to put this in spiritual terms and change the numbers to aspects of the fruit of the Spirit I think its application becomes more evident.

The fruit of the spirit is looked at like a composite meaning that it is one thing and the listings in Galatians are like perspectives or factors of it. Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance are like those above factors (2x3x5x7x11…) together they all explain the fruit of the Spirit. If I were to take just one and try to do it without the others, say for example Patience without Love it would not really be the Patience we think it is. In fact it would at most be patience and at worst be tolerance.

In fact, what we see in Corinthians when we factor out Love we end up with nothing.

The character of God is like this also. Often times we focus just on one part, with statements like God is Love, God is Good, God is the Father. Which he is, but what he calls Love is much more. God is also Righteous. God is also Jealous. He has many names and when we strip him down to just one thing everyone looses and in fact what we are presenting may not even be God.

If I go to the lowest common denominator of God being Love but only preach Love we are missing some main points of who God is. A gospel based on this with all the truth and righteousness factored out is not the true gospel. It is the same with a gospel that has factored out love and grace and just judgement.

Fear of Hardship

Fear of Hardship

I think every person has at least one fear in their life. I have my own set of fears that I am constantly battling, and attempting to trust God with.  There is one fear that I feel the church is blind to, or is trying to ignore.  That fear is of hardship.

Ever since the 80’s brought about the Word of Faith movement, Christians have been walking on eggshells trying to avoid what they think isn’t faith.  They have strep throat, yet they go to church believing that they aren’t sick.  Instead of growing in their faith, they have spread strep throat to the rest of the church.  They are afraid to be honest about their trials, trying to bear up their load on their own.  Yes, God is a great burden-bearer, but sometimes the body of Christ can be a big hug to those who are hurting.

Then in the 2000’s came the prosperity message that told Christians if they were obedient to God, then God would bless them with money and nice things.  While I do believe that God blesses us, I don’t believe our focus should be on what we have or lack.  It says in Matthew 5:45 that God rains on the just AND the unjust.  In fact, Jesus told his disciples to sell all they had and give the money to the poor, and to only travel in ministry with the minimal amount of things that you need.  Not many Christians do this. I certainly don’t to that extent.

I get on Facebook and on my newsfeed, every day, there are a lot of people who make posts full of fear about what might happen to them if the government does this, or if a certain sub-culture gets power, or if a certain law gets passed.  This is where I want to make my point.  I believe that this “new” doctrine of comfort and prosperity has caused the body of Christ to look for the wrong indicators in their lives to tell them if they are “right” with God.  The only way to REALLY know if you are right with God is to spend time with Him in prayer and in the Word.  While devotionals and books by other Christian leaders can be good, NOTHING is as walk-adjusting as reading the Bible and letting God work His truth in you.   

If you dig into the Bible, you’ll see that Jesus said that the end times aren’t going to be easy.  Jesus warned us that we will be persecuted, martyred, and hated.  He said the earth will be filled with great wickedness.  He told us that there will be crazy stuff happening in the environment.  He prophesied that people who think they are Christians will be deceived by unsound doctrine, even those who did good works in His name.  That’s pretty heavy, really.  We have to know Him.  We have to be solid in doctrine.  We have to be lead by the Holy Spirit.  It is NOTHING within ourselves that saves us, except for what God has given us.  We are measly humans.  He is great.  🙂

We shouldn’t be afraid of the darkness around us, but get determined to be a light in that darkness.  We should be bold to proclaim His truth, but we often shrink back when we are called out for that very thing.  We are afraid of the false shame that people put on us when we stand for righteousness.  We are afraid of being uncomfortable, as the thought of losing our stuff haunts us.  We sing about needing nothing, but Jesus.  However, our lives and our words and actions seem to say the opposite of that.

Things will get hard at the end.  We have to stop being afraid of hardship.  Trust Him.  Be bold.

“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

– Proverbs 28:1

Just a Lil’ Chat about Simplicity

We once went to a church where they gave the members a quiz about what their ministries should be.  To the pastor’s surprise, the second on my list and the third on Eric’s list was “voluntary poverty”.  He had never had anyone get that on the quiz, let alone a couple.  At the time, we didn’t have much, and still we didn’t really care about “things”.  We tried to live simply, but comfortably.

My husband has a pretty good job, at the moment.  As humans, we don’t know how long this will last.  We have some creature comforts, but about 6 months back, I was getting annoyed with all of the clutter and “extras” that we had.  So, I went through and got rid of some stuff.  Once I did, I was able to think clearer and it was easier to clean house.

At one point in our marriage, my husband and I went through a process of spiritual elimination, as it were.  All of the “extra” theologies that people often argue about weren’t something that we wanted to delve into.  We’d ask ourselves, “Do we really care about such-and-such happening in a church service?” or “Do we want to take time to discuss about….?”  Most of the time, we didn’t.  We had a bad church experience where we were indoctrinated with some foul theology.  We needed to reset.

We decluttered our spiritual temples of all of the opinions of the leaders that we had previously had.  It wasn’t that all of their theologies were bad, but that we had to learn to think for ourselves.  Another thing we did was study the Bible while listening the voice of the Lord, as opposed to how we thought whatever popular preacher would study it or how our former pastors would preach about it.  We discovered that we needed to strip down to the essentials.  We got it down to the following:

  1. God is Creator of all things, plus a bunch of other awesome attributes that the human languages don’t have words for.
  2. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for us, because He loves us, to cleanse us from sin. 
  3. The Holy Spirit was sent to help us and comfort us, as well as convict us.
  4. Love all of the above, plus everyone else.  

(If we were ever to add another one that we feel is important, it’s this:  We are not gods.  I won’t get into that discussion right now.)

Since that time of getting down to the basics, we’ve added back some things, a little at a time.

What are those things?, you might ask.

Does it really matter on the whole? I’d reply.