Friday, April 3, 2009

The Great Giver and Taker

I did something foolish yesterday**. I was working on Ella's scrapbook, trying to get it ready before training so I can sell the scrapbooking stuff. I can't just think on one thing at a time. It makes my head hurt. So I put on Oprah. We only have one network. I would have just put on some dvd that I've seen a billion times, but it was Suze Orman giving financial advice. I don't agree with her stances on things like marital finances (she pretty much just wants couples to be roommates with benefits), but because I have no natural knack for numbers, I enjoy listening to someone who does. I mean, financial advice can't be too heretical, can it?

Apparently, yes. It can. One of the guests was a retired Lutheran pastor whose retirement is dwindling. It was causing him to stress. He made a ridiculous statement that he has given more than he has received. What I think he meant from that was that his charitable contribution outweighed his income on his tax return. But he calls himself a Christian. It was his job to make sure that everyone knows that we can never out-give God. The blood of His Son was more costly than anything. If we die completely destitute, but covered in the grace of God, we have been given more than we could ever imagine, or could repay in a thousand life-times. Satan used this scared man to manipulate people into doubting God's goodness. Edwin walked in right before he came on, and was absolutely appalled by his appearance. I was sad.

He had said in the video piece that he now feels like he's the one who needs some pastoral counseling. I wish that he had done that instead of going on national television to gripe about his investments! Now, any decent evangelical pastor would have him do an extensive study on Matthew 6:24-34. Suze Orman, however, decided to give him a speech about how God "doesn't know how to take. He only gives." Edwin was standing up by this a point, a sure sign that he is as angry as my sweet husband gets. I sat, quietly thinking about how ridiculous that statement was, again angry at Satan for using this man to mislead the American people one more time, dragging them farther from the true God of the universe.

Let's get one thing straight: my God, the true Creator and Sustainer of this world, takes! He took the life of His Son in order to take away the sins of His people. I praise God that I do not serve a god who merely sits in Heaven, with his hands full of blessings, hoping that I'll come up and get some like a bird receiving birdseed. My God is a Giver and a Taker. (Read 1 Samuel 2, if you don't believe me.)

Everything was made for Him and by Him (John 1:3). It's His business if He wants to reallocate His resources from one place to another. (You know, money doesn't disappear. It goes somewhere. Somebody is gaining out of this.) We seem to think that God should be worshipping us, which is what Suze Orman's statement comes down to. He lives for our glory, according to her theology. I belong to Him. If He chooses to take my money, my husband's life, my children's lives, and the very breath that fills my lungs, He is still good, and I still belong to Him. I'm His to take.

We get recite the verse that says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose," (Romans 8:28). We don't focus much on that last part, according to His purpose, and we completely separate it from the rest of the passage which ends with these verses:

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This passage promises us hardship, and yet we're here, doubting the goodness of God because we are concerned about losing our retirement home or going without Internet. It's when we face hardship that God's goodness is revealed most fully. I haven't seen many people enduring nakedness due to this recession. I haven't seen many hungry people, either. They may not eat out as much, but that's hardly famine. It's in all that that we conquer. It may seem like we're suffering for Him, but in those moments, God's love becomes more real to us. His love alone is our goodness.

You know what I think is good? I think that it would be good for our country to realize that we are worshipping God's blessings and not God. I think it would be good for us to repent of our pseudo-Christianity and become the Christian nation we're always claiming to be. I think it would be good for God's people to shine as lights in the universe in the way that they deal with this recession. Maybe it's time we stop trusting in chariots, and start trusting in the one true God (Psalm 20:7). He told us very plainly that stuff here gets destroyed, but the things we do for Him are imperishable (Luke 12:33).

When I die, I want to stand before Him knowing that I left it all on the field. When I stand before God (and we all will), I want to know that I've used every resource that He has given me for His glory, and not my own. I want to look on the faces of those who know God or love Him more because I existed. I want to look into the face of the Great Giver and Taker, knowing that my life benefited Him more than me. Now that's good, and no recession can touch that!

(Edited at 12:47 a.m. on April 4, 2009: My mom made the very good point that it was unclear what I did that would be considered foolish. I have mentioned several times on my Bible study blog that it is generally a bad use of our mental energies to spend too much time listening to people who almost get it right, but don't. I have specifically used Oprah Winfrey as an example since she seems to be a "spiritual person," but she doesn't believe the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. It was foolish for me to not follow my own advice.)

1 comment:

Marian said...

Amen, Amen & amen. What truthful words you speak dear sister!! This man misrepresented our good God...most of those that call themselves Christians do. They believe they know the God of the Bible and yet make statements that clearly go against what His word has revealed about himself. He gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!!