On today’s show Doug looks at trying to control God and people. We all do it, how come? Also, we examine the why behind the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the power of human choice. Doug also delves into his struggles with being an introvert.
The Community of God: A Theology of the Church From a Reluctant Pastor is available through Amazon or this Website
Doug, I really resonated with what you had to say. I believe in the importance of community, but I came to a crisis after attending a small group for about a month: I dreaded the day I was supposed to go: if I went everything was fine, but the next week I was making myself sick over it. Finally I stopped going. It’s like what you said about being emotionally vulnerable in away other people aren’t( and I’m oversensitive emotionally as well) but like you said knowing that introverts are drained by such occasions doesn’t fully free my from shame that I can’t make myself go for the good of others. Yet I see that my reaction is an attempt to control the situation: if I’m not spiritual enough to force myself to ‘go beyond my comfort zone’, then I will punish myself with shame, exerting negative form of control over myself. But listening to you talking about using control to prevent pain, to prevent rejection, when what God is asking of us is to trust His love for us and through us and through other believers, so that instead of controlling and manipulating and putting on a good front, we can be who we authentically are and choose to love one another by the power of the Holy Spirit because everyone of us is inadequate, incomplete;because God’s kind of love reaches out to the neediest not the most knowledgeable.
I can relate to problem-solving as a strategy for those who are relationally challenged. If I can solve your problems maybe that will make up for my being a boring person and so I can somehow fit in, without really feeling as if I belong. Actually I hate problems, because I don’t trust myself to solve them correctly: the Lord the Lord is teaching me to accept making mistakes as necessary to growth. But I appreciate your honesty in saying that though others would consider you a good pastor for what you did, you were all too aware that your motives needed healing. Fear of the Lord is an acceptable motivation biblically, but fear of man never is. Yet it’s so much easier to fear man, than to fear God. To fear God is to acknowledge that since He knows our hearts we cannot fool Him. His word says that without love all we do is as nothing in the eyes of God.
It comes back to what you began with: choosing to trust God, to worship and serve Him as our highest good or to trust our own perceptions our own desires, our own suspicions, and end up being deceived by the enemy of our souls. As both the psalms and proverbs say the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; without loving reverence for God and humble admission of our fallibility, knowledge does become ruin. Knowledge puffs up; love builds up. Our choice to love and obey God brings with it the responsibility but also the privilege to love others. As an introvert I tend to emphasize the responsibility and question how I could possibly be good enough. But the liberating truth is that I am not ‘enough’ for I can do nothing apart from abiding in the grace and mercy of God. Insofar as that is true, loving others is not a duty but a privilege since the love of God is poured out in my heart by the Holy Spirit. The call to love God and love others is so totally beyond me in the natural that it is by faith alone, believing His grace is sufficient, that in regards to love as with everything else, His strength is made perfect in my weakness
O God, cleanse our hearts and our minds that we might see You as You truly are and see each other as beloved of You, brothers and sisters in Christ, male and female created in Your image to love and serve You in loving and serving one another.
Amen and Amen!