Most of us are able to look back to a season in our journey wherein we thought we had most everything figured out. Our answers were bold, our confidence high, our expectations certain and our dogma pronounced. We did not know it then but, looking back now, we discern that we lived with some inner swagger that proceeded from an assumption that we had this walking-with-Jesus thing figured out. We were living by formulas, by equations, by heavy presumptions. Somebody trained us in the arena of mediocrity and told us it was actually excellence so we became satisfied far too soon. There was a lot of cause-and-effect flavor to our approach to faith – if I do this, then God will do this. It was in these times that we developed a lot of our disciplines, commitments and standards regarding how to live a “successful” Christian life.
Then God allowed that season to close and ordained circumstances that our formulas couldn’t solve, our cause-and-effect-mentality couldn’t explain and our heavy presumptions could not endure. Pain and trouble have a way of helping us reconsider our approach to living by faith. We learn that we do not stand in need of tools and techniques but, instead, of personal intimacy with the living God. God brought us to the end of approaching Him with a plan and instead allowed our palms to be empty so that they might come to hold what He offers. He extends something better to us.
“For I the Lord do not change;” – Malachi 3:6
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8-9
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:8
The short list of verses above contains some of the simplest reminders that God wants us to know that He has not changed and will not change. He is a supernatural being – beyond that which is natural. He is unlike any other being. He is glorious and good and engaged and explosively effective. The completion of Scripture did not produce a retreat in His activity among us. Some would seem to think that conservative theology replaced the Holy Spirit as the 3rd member of the Godhead. The closing of the age of the Apostles did not signal an end to His divine and miraculous activity – no matter what brilliant Christian told you otherwise. His immutability is not some token technicality – it is a promise to us that He will always be as He has always been and we should expect His activity among His own people to perpetuate in a similar fashion as it has in ages past.
God is helping me to see clearly in my own life and in the lives of Christians with whom my life connects that many of us live in the foggy mist that hangs between the God who was and the God who will be. We see clearly this awe-striking God in our bible who was very present, very active and deeply involved in the lives of His people. The God of the past was mighty and remarkable and mind-blowing. We are also able to affirm that the God of eternity future and the soon-to-return King Jesus are revealed in Scripture as gloriously triumphant, overtly conquering and actively engaged in the welfare of believers, bringing to pass the conquest of the world through the coming Kingdom. Yet, let’s be honest, few of us are living in expectation that God exists in that same dynamic right now. He seems conspicuously absent from many lives and from the Western church as a whole. We have been trained to view this life as an unspectacular waiting room that is suspended between God-past and God-future. It would seem that the living God who does not change has been reduced to a theological idea who is currently napping until He returns again. I do not say this as any slight to Him because my point is that the problem lies with you and me. God has not changed at all. Our expectation of Him has somehow been lowered and He may be meeting us there because we desire nothing more from Him. Many of us have been inadvertently diminished in our expectation of Him and we are receiving what we expect. Some have been trained to have little to no anticipation that this great God who never changes still desires to manifest His greatness to them, for them and through them. It seems that this generation is comfortable with the idea of a reluctant God.
I will not live like this any longer. I recommend that you refuse to continue on in low expectations of God. If He promises to never change, how can we be so quick to conclude that an absence of His supernatural presence and power are acceptable? Good theology is not the same thing as God’s active presence and how could we deem any theology as being good if it does not produce a deeper intimacy and experience with God? Brothers and sisters, let us consider our ways and readdress our formulas, equations and presumptions. Recent events signal an upping of the ante for the Church as there has been a clear drawing of the bow which threatens to spring forth the arrow of opposition against us. What we have done in the past simply will not suffice for this present hour. There is more, so much more and, frankly, we need all of what God has for us. I am a promoter of solid theology. Yet no theology is solid if it is not married with lasting power to stand in the day of battle (Ephesians 6:13). This is a call for us to change.
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