Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fickle Christianity

It amazes me sometimes how fickle I can be when it comes to my relationship with the Lord. I believe even our best intentions are influenced by what is happening around us. By nature we are an inconsistent people, just read the accounts of the apostles and the Israelites as they journeyed through the desert for forty years.

Fickleness, I submit, can be summed up in the Apostle Paul’s statement, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do . . . For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members . . .” (Romans 7:15).

This fickleness led me to consider my four felines. (Yea, I know what your thinking, wow what a stretch Diane, but bare with me). As you may know, you can’t force a cat to do something it does not want to do. Suddenly they turn their nose up at the food they once favored. One moment they’re affectionate toward you the next they’re rather impetuous.

Let me introduce my four fickle felines and then show how I think we can be like them toward our relationship with the Lord:

Sunshine is a jet-black cat and there is not an ounce of sunshine oozing from her personality. You cannot hold, pet, or nuzzle her without a scolding. If you manage to pick her up, she’ll shriek as if you are performing some tortures act. Sunshine remains near but aloof; she has a spot on the master bed that is hers and hers alone. Once I’m all tucked into bed she’s licking my hand with fondness and encouraging me to stroke her. She wants love but on her terms.

Midnight, sister to Sunshine but longer and leaner, her name fits her well. She lurks in the shadows, she gives real meaning to fraidy-cat. Midnight is a talker and wants constant attention—that is when she is not napping—Pet me, pet me but when I reach to touch her velvety black fur, she scatters like a bird being chased. In seconds she’s back pawing, pet me! She prefers to be massaged by my feet, not hands. I think I know why. My feet provide a distance where she cannot be snatched in my arms into an uncomfortable place she’d rather not be. She longs for closeness yet she fears the very closeness she seeks.

Ginger is a fluffy feline and loves to be loved. She tags along like a faithful mutt. She sits on the floor behind my chair as I write. She rolls on her back to have her tummy scratched. When I get up in the middle of the night, she guards the door to the bathroom and follows me back to bed. She is reliable and often brings me a sacrifice of rodent, lizard, or whatever the catch of the day is. She wants recognition; she wants to be noticed but left alone to her own doings.

China is a tuxedo cat and has a broken mee-oow when she speaks. Affectionate, she jumps right on my lap or sits next to my computer or walks across my keyboard for attention. Or she casually perches her long lanky self on top of the back of my chair. She’ll let me carry her over my shoulder and hug and kiss her whenever. When China wants affection she reaches out for it and when her love tank is full, off she goes about her business.

So how are we as people fickle like my four feline friends?

<strong>We Tend to Remain Aloof From God</strong>

We want to be self-sufficient people. Maybe we are angry about past hurts or have a wrong perception of who God is. Perhaps we want all the benefits of belonging to the Master yet do not allow ourselves to be totally known and loved by him—even though he knows us better then ourselves. We may believe God loves us but internally we question does he like us? Could it be we feel we can’t measure up to his name . . . or we don’t qualify for Kingdom use; therefore it is easier to remain aloof then do the hard work to grow nearer to God. We might go as far as saying God doesn’t really need me. The truth is, he doesn’t need us but he wants us. Aloofness keeps us from being connected and used for God’s kingdom.

<strong>Longing For Closeness but Fearing Intimacy</strong>

We are created for relationships, horizontally with others and vertically with God. Yet the one thing we fear is becoming to intimate. It can be the fear of loving then losing. The fear of rejection. The fear of failure or fear of vulnerability—being exposed as the human beings we are. What will happen if someone “really” knows the real us? Although we long for closeness with God and others, we allow our fears to keep our relationships at bay, so that we can manage them and not feel out of control. It is a game we play for various reasons: safety, security, and self-preservation.

<strong>Faithfulness Needs Recognition </strong>

To often we make sacrifices for God thinking all will go well with us. There is almost a sense of self-entitlement. You know, good behavior begets good results; yet when the mud slithers down the mountain getting our yard dirty, we become mystified. But God I did everything right . . . why is this happening to me?
There are Christians who abandon the faith when tragedy befalls them because they misplace their hope in rewards for “doing good” rather then faith in the Giver of Life. If I do this, God will do that. I love recognition myself, but I know I must keep it in balance and remember that God has already accredited me my prize through the salvation of his Son Jesus Christ. God alone is our reward. His grace is sufficient for all our needs, wants, and desires.

<strong>God, Here I am </strong>

We fall in love with God and give wholehearted affection. I am here God. See I’m sitting at your feet like Mary. I want to learn, be filled, and—
But then life happens and our affections flow from this to that. I don’t mean to say we stop loving God, but we get what we need for the moment and then we are off . . . off to our world of whatever flows our fancy. We require balance, plain and simple.

So what is the remedy for our fickleness? I think the answer is we simply forge on, consciously replacing:

1. Aloofness for Nearness: We draw near to God because he promises to draw near to us (James 4:8; Romans 10: 8-11; Psalms 73:28)

2. Fear for Freedom: We realize as Christians we’ve died to sin and are raised with Christ, gaining spiritual freedom and wholeness (Ephesians 2: 4-8; Psalms 146:7).

3. Recognition for Grace: We know that God’s endearment brings lasting love and grace to his people (2 Corinthians 12:9; Isaiah 30:18; Ephesians 2:5).

4. Busyness for Balance: We seek God’s kingdom first and trust that all other things will follow (Matthew 6:33; 2 Timothy 1:7).

The apostle added to his question, “ . . . Who will rescue me from this body of death?” And no sooner did he ask he answered, “Thanks be to God—Through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).

It is Christ alone who can deliver you and I from our fickle ways, " being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete [it] until the day of Jesus Christ . . .” (Philippians 1:6).