10 April 2014 by Jason Law CM –
Our minds are intangible, but do you know that they are a part of our being that has one of the strongest holds in determining the kind of life we live? In Luke 10:27, Jesus taught us to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. This has an all-encompassing implication including our emotions (heart), spirit (soul), the physical aspects (strength), and our mindset and wisdom. All Christians have been called to a relationship with God and recognized for a purpose. But while God has given the calling, He is a respecter of our free wills, and we have a responsibility to answer to that calling. Last Sunday, Pr Philip Lyn of SIB Skyline church in Sabah, gave an inspiring message in DUMC about the proper focus of the Christian mindset.
Pr Philip Lyn shared that there are two chief ways in which a Christian respond to a calling or given purpose from God, divided into those with a ‘But suppose..’ attitude and those with a ‘But God..’ mindset, and these are diametrically opposed:
‘But suppose..’ is a language of fear, born out of men’s premises (“But suppose I land into danger”; “But suppose I can’t find a job there”; “But suppose the ones you called me to serve rejects me”; ”But suppose I made a fool of myself”..).
‘But God..’ is the direct opposite; it is the language of faith, born out of God’s promises (I have doubts: “But God will preserve the place where I am called to”; “But God will provide for me and my family”; “But God will open their hearts to your message and heart of compassion”; “But God will guide me”..)
It is not the way we start, it is all about the journey of trust we make with God and how we finish that journey. Saul started well, but because of his “But suppose..” attitude, he ended up in a downward spiral. Peter started feebly but finished his life as one of the greatest apostles in Christian History because of his “But God..” faith. Christians are not called to live in “But suppose..” but to a life of faith; of “But God..”.
Pr Philip Lyn gave the example of the prophet Moses to illustrate both aspects of this dichotomy in a person’s life. He pointed out that, initially, Moses spoke the language of fear. In Exodus 4:1, after God had appeared to Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt, Moses replied:
"What if (But suppose) they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?" Exodus 4:1
This question was born out of past experience. Moses wasn’t really afraid of rejection; he was afraid of something from his past. 40 years ago, Moses had fled to the desert after killing an Egyptian for assaulting a Hebrew slave, leaving behind his inheritance. He was afraid that the past would catch up with him if he were to return to Egypt. He was basically trapped in the experiences of the past and had become a “But suppose..” person. Raised up as a prince, he had become paralyzed for 40 years. The question that was born out of the second phase of Moses’ life points up certain characteristics of the language of fear:
1. It will paralyze us: Moses was paralyzed from even considering taking up his calling from God. The first thing that came into his mind was the possibility of being taken captive and thrown into prison, or worse. In the same way, this language will paralyze us if we give way to it. Instead of rising up to the level that God has called us with anticipation, we will instantly close down any thoughts of even making the first step. This is what will happen to our Christian life; a stunted life with no growth, leading nowhere.
2. It will cap our potential: Once Moses took up the challenge from God and allowed Him to be his guide, he accomplished great things. Through God’s guidance, he spoke and warned the pharaoh about the ten plagues that God will carry out on Egypt for his stubbornness. Through the power from God, he split the Red Sea, and carried out many other miracles. He met God face-to-face on Mount Sinai. If we allow fear to paralyze us, we will lose the potential God wants us to rise to.
3. It will kill our faith: Moses lost sight of God and focused on his own problems. He forgot that the calling was from the Almighty God, the Creator of everything in existence. The language of fear affects everyone in the same way, robbing us of our identity through Christ and focusing our attention on our problems that was meant to be undersized through God, and turning them into oversized ones as meant by satan.
Moses’ finally transformed himself from a speaker of the language of fear to a speaker of the language of faith. Ephesians 4:7 encourages us that God has given each one of us the special gift of grace through the generosity of Christ. This grace is not a one-time or localized thing; it encompasses everything we do in the name of Christ. It gave John the apostle the confidence that he was the beloved of the Lord. The phrase occurs five times in the Gospel of John (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20) but in none of the other Gospels. This was the massive level of faith John had, the kind that gave the apostle the courage to stay with Jesus, right up to the end, when all the other apostles had fled (John 19:23-27)
English Standard Version (ESV)
26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
Pr Philip highlighted the passage of Ephesians 2:4-7 for us to take to heart. The passage reminds us of the great love God has for us, forgiving us even when we were dead in our trespasses, making us alive together with Christ, and raising us up to be seated with Him in the Heavenly places so that He might show us the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness. The word ‘together’ in this passage has 2 subtexts; one indicating our character of togetherness as a Church, but in the larger and perhaps more important sense, also indicating our relationship as being of one mind with Christ.
The relationship that came through God’s grace, that’s the crucial thing that we are encouraged to focus on in times of challenge and trouble. It changed Moses’s identity and life, and it defined the apostle John to such an extent that he was specifically chosen to take care of our Saviour’s mother after Calvary. As Christians, we are encouraged to focus on the ‘But God..’s in our lives.
English Standard Version (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
References for pictures