If you have a smart phone, you’ve probably downloaded an app. There are two main types of apps: ones that cost and ones that are free. Sometimes an app company will develop a lite version of their app so you can try it before you buy it. That allows you to try some of its features, but not the best parts of it. To do that, you’ve got to pay the price. Many people download the lite versions and free apps only because they’re unwilling to pay what they cost.
I think it’s human nature to try to get out of paying the cost of things. We identify with the end result of things, but we are unwilling to put in the work to achieve those results. Bowflex is proof of that. Their commercials show you the results of hard work, and then get you to buy by telling you that you don’t really have to work that hard or long to achieve those results. As a result, most Bowflex machines end up as very expensive clothes hangers.
As Christians, we want full access to who God is, but we only want the lite or free version of Him. We want the faith of the people in the Bible without putting in the effort. We identify with those who have the strongest faith, but we don’t want to put in the time and effort to worship and know God. Just like any relationship, you get out of it what you put into it. We can’t know the depths of God if we aren’t willing to have more than a social relationship with Him.
In Psalm 34:9, David wrote, “Worship GOD if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness” (MSG). Worship is more than bowing down to Him or recognizing His greatness. It’s an internal submission to Him. It’s putting His needs above our own. Worship is the price for the full version of God if you will. It’s not just a type of song on Sunday morning. It’s what we do with our relationship with Him the rest of the week. If you want access to all of God, learn to worship Him every day.
Several years ago, when things were going downhill in my life, I started to get upset at God. I was losing everything. Several friends had abandoned me during the process. I lost my business, had a vehicle repossessed, lost my business, and had to file for bankruptcy. I cried out, “God, where are you?!? Why are you letting this happen to me? Have you abandoned me? Don’t you care that I’m losing everything?” I didn’t get an answer and I continued to lose more until I had nothing left to lose.
I didn’t think God was there in those moments. Every once in a while though, my friend and Sunday School teacher, would say, “Chris, I believe God wants me to say this to you…” While those messages were encouraging, and I believed they were from God, I wasn’t personally hearing from Him. I was doing my best to keep from getting bitter towards Him because I felt abandoned and was upset over everything I had lost. What I couldn’t see, was what I was really losing though.
I realized later that I didn’t just lose a bunch of material things and relationships, I lost my pride. God used that time to strip me of pride that was keeping me from a deep relationship with Him. I also lost my dependence on my self. Somehow I thought that everything I had in life, I had earned on my own. I forgot that God was my source and Jehovah Jireh. Through all of that, I gained a deeper faith and a dependence on God to be who He wanted to be in my life. I just couldn’t see it when I was losing the things that I thought mattered.
I Peter 4:12-13 says, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (MSG). God uses difficult times to refine us. When they come, the dross in our life floats to the top and is skimmed off by God. What’s left over is pure gold. If you’re in the thick of it now, don’t quit or think God doesn’t care. He’s refining you and cleaning out the things in your life that are keeping you from Him.
One of my regular prayers is that God would shift the prism through which I see Him and others. I see almost everything in black and white. I was raised in an unbroken home and at the same church my whole life. There hasn’t been a whole lot of shifting where I change my perspective of who He is and how I see Him. Over time and with life experience, I have shifted and changed. I see God differently because of what I’ve seen Him do in my life and in the lives of others. I just don’t want to get complacent with where I am or how I see Him. I don’t want to box Him in to what I think He should be.
The early church went through a lot of shifting. In Acts 10, Peter was praying on the balcony while he was waiting for lunch. God gave him a vision of a blanket being lowered down with religiously unclean animals in it. God told Peter to kill and eat, but he refused because he had never touched food that wasn’t Kosher. God came back and said, “Don’t call unclean what I have called clean.” It was then that he was awakened by his vision from visitors knocking. A man named Cornelius was told by an angel to get Peter so he could hear what he had to say.
Peter traveled the next day to Cornelius’ house with the group that came for him. When he spoke to the people who had gathered, they were filled with Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. Peter was shocked. How could non-Jews have received God’s gift? He turned to the Jews who had traveled with them and said, “Do I hear any objections to baptizing these friends with water? They’ve received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did.” That event created a fundamental shift in how they saw God. They now saw that God’s plan of salvation was for Jews and non-Jews alike. It changed their ministry.
My prayer is that God would radically change me so that I see deeper into His Word than I do now. I pray that He shifts my focus so that I can connect things that I’ve never seen or understood in it. When I understand what He says, then I can know Him more. When I know Him more, my life is forever altered. I cannot accept that I know God as much as I will ever know Him. I cannot believe that I know everything that I will ever know about Scripture. I have to put myself in position to be shifted. I have to spend time in prayer so He can show me. I have to be willing to go with strangers to see what God is doing.
What about you? Are you willing to allow God to reveal more of Himself to you? Are you open to Him showing things that will fundamentally alter how you see Him? What can you do to put yourself in position to be shifted so you see Him in a different light? My prayer is that God would radically change us in the Church who have become complacent with our view of Him. I pray that He would reveal Himself to us like we’ve never seen. We don’t need to fix the Church. It’s not our responsibility. We need to fix our relationship with Him and that will change the Church. We need to change the prism through which we view God and that will change the world.