Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Search Me, O God, Before I Destroy Others

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Tea for Nightlight International at Redeemer

Search me, God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

Notice this doesn't say, "Search them, O God; Show me their offensive ways so I can recoil in horror and fascination."

The first temptation of power, writes Jamin Coggin and Kyle Strobel, is viewing the problem as "out there." "We recognize it in other churches, pastors, fellow Christians, or political and cultural leaders, but we ignore the problem in our own hearts." (Coggin and Strobel, The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus' path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It, p. 4) 

The first step in spiritual formation into Christlikeness is The Need. It's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. I have nothing to say to "them" until God has cured me. As Jesus said, I must first have the log in my eye removed before I can be used, by the Holy Spirit and with permission, to take the speck out of the other person's eye.

God desires to remove the log from my eye. And, God can do this, if I consent to it.

Because God is all-knowing. It follows from this that God knows us completely. C.S. Lewis said we are completely known to God - known like earthworms, cabbages, and nebulae, as objects of divine knowledge. Lewis wrote: "This is our destiny whether we like it or not. But though this knowledge never varies, the quality of our being known can." (In Yancey, Prayer, K1157)

While it's true that God knows us completely and thoroughly, we may not consent to being known by God. Philip Yancey writes:

"We can assent with all our will to be so known; we can unveil before God; we can offer ourselves to view. We can invite God into our lives and ourselves into God’s. When we do that, putting ourselves on a personal footing with God, so to speak, relationship heats up and a potential for extraordinary friendship stirs to life. For God is a Person, too, and though a person unlike ourselves, One who surely fulfills more of what that word means, not less." (Yancey, Philip, Prayer, Kindle Locations 1158-1161)

God will not force himself on us. Like the psalmist who prayed "Search me, O God, and know my heart," we must consent to be searched-out by God. Without this prayer will often be a one-way street, with God being disinvited to the conference. Without being search-out, as a lifestyle, we will destroy others. 

Coggin and Strobel write:

"Jesus is not saying the solution is to ignore the sins of others. We should name sins, just as Jesus did. However, we must recognize that only after naming the truth of our own sin can we come in grace and truth to name the sins of others. Only when we see the truth of ourselves can we have mercy to address others in God’s grace. As those forgiven by God, we pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matt. 6:12 NLT)." (p. 5) 

Pray today: Search me, O God, and know my heart. 

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