Friday, October 11, 2013

All Things

When we decide to buy a new car, there are lots of factors that go into deciding. We check newspaper and TV ads for what looks good and seems to have good features and what seems to fit our budget.  And we'll check out car magazines and websites to see which cars we like and have good reviews. Once we've picked a couple of models that we like the feature sets and we've decided we can afford them, we start checking out dealers.  We'll very often pick out two or three, based on price, reputation for honesty, and willingness to fix issues.  The whole process can get pretty detailed.  But there's a particular part of the process that got my attention.  Because there's a spiritual analogy.

Shawn Mullin wrote a recent blog post titled "Embracing Adversity".  I'll post a link at the end of this post.  But it got me thinking about how our understanding grows.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (KJV)  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 

That verse suggests we should test before we buy.  When it comes to car buying, we don't start haggling with the dealer until we've gone for a test drive and have some idea that we like the vehicle and trust its quality.  The same is true in the spiritual realm.

Shawn's post included the little guy with the shield that you see to the right.  Those arrows are being caught or deflected by the shield.  But picture that soldier getting ready to be fully armed  and ready for battle:

He reads the local parchments for ads from armorers. "Crazy Cyrus" says his sword prices "are insane".  Jacob says his leather breastplates are made to the highest government standards. And "Honest Abraham" says he has the best armor in the land.  But, in the end, that soldier has the same issue we do when buying a car.  He can use all due diligence in finding the best price, the highest quality construction, and the features or design he wants.  But until he tries the armor on and the armor and shield are battle tested, he can't know for sure that it's the right fit for him.

We end up with the same problem in the spiritual realm.  We can develop a strong faith, but like us, that seems to have areas where it comes up short. We can dig deep into the Word, absorb its truths. We can create a basis of growing faith.  But, until we have that faith fully put to the test, we're never really going to know for sure whether God will grab us out of a trial or if He'll leave us in it to learn something.  And, too often, our distrust leads us to wonder if God is for us or will help us.  What we think we know is less than it should be or even incorrect.

A lawyer friend of mine, Mike Marr, has talked about a legal "proof" by an a fortiori argument.  If a greater thing is true, then a lesser one must also be true.  A simple example would be that, since God created the universe, He can protect us in it.  Or He can save us from our sinful state.  The problem is that our imperfect understanding creates an imperfect impression of our experiences.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (KJV)  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

We need the test drive for our car, the battle time to test our armor, the bumpy road of adversity, in order to see the greater truth that proves a lesser one.

1 Timothy 4:8 (KJV)  For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

Living according to the physical rules of the world is good.  We need order and we need to take care of things.  But the things of this world have limits in how they can benefit us.  Heeding God has both temporal and eternal benefits.

Colossians 1:16-17 (KJV)  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Philippians 4:13 (KJV)  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

That's one example of an a fortioi argument.  Because the persons of the Trinity are the creator of everything, they are capable of empowering us to do what's needed.  Here's another:

Hebrews 1:1-3 (KJV)  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 2:8 (KJV)  Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.


Philippians 3:8 (KJV)  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Christ was the builder, creating all.  And they're all under his control, despite the fact that our limited perception isn't seeing that fact, yet.  And He's told us that, throughout the ages!  Paul had lots of opportunity to take his faith and God out for a test drive and battle testing.  Because of that, he could consider everything unimportant.  The losses in his trials were of much less importance than getting to know every aspect of the Trinity personally.

I believe faith and trust were inherent parts of who God made us to be.  Initially, there was nothing to distrust.  The fall of man created corruption of those qualities and our perception, among other things.  So, we're stuck needing to test drive the trust we have in God, battle test the reality of our faith.  When we do, the only all things that are important are those in submission to God.  Shawn Mullin's take on that, in "Embracing Adversity" is here: .

How's your test drive, today?  Are all things directing you, or are all things in submission to you because of He who is in you?

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