Monday, December 11

When you assume, you make...

I've started reading Wasting Time With God: A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God by Klaus Issler. I picked up the book because I've always been fascinated with the relationship between God and Abraham. The bible tells us that Abraham was called God's friend. In fact, we see at least one instance where God included Abraham in his decision making process. Jesus told his disciples, and by extension us, that we are his friends. Yet this friendship element of our relationship with Jesus and God seem to often be missed.

One of Issler's points is that one of the reasons we miss this (or other) aspects of God is because we make faulty assumptions about God. He uses the story of the Rich Young Ruler as an example to demonstrate that we make false assumptions about God, and how these assumptions can affect the way we look at how God works (pp 19-20). In the story, after the Rich Young Ruler walks away, Jesus says that it is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. It says that the disciples were amazed at these words. You see, in those times material possessions were typically seen as a blessing from God. The more you had, the more God had decided to bless you. Jesus drives his point home by saying that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. The disciples were even more amazed at this.

Jesus was attacking an assumption of theirs. They believed that worldly riches were a blessing from God, and signified that the person who had them was especially close to God. (Think about the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.) So the less you had, the less God had chosen to bless you, and the less of a relationship with God you were believed to have. This gives an entirely new perspective to the disciples question "Who then can be saved?" (Mark 10:26). Their initial response is to think that Jesus is saying that even those who have a close relationship to God aren't going to make it to heaven. But this wasn't Jesus' point at all. Instead, he is trying to attack a false assumption - that worldly wealth is an indication of divine favor and a demonstration of the nature of your relationship with God.

Christmas and the New Year are good times for new beginnings. They are good times to seek God, to invest time with him, and to find new spiritual direction for a closer walk with Jesus. I strongly encourage you to think about the assumptions you make about God. When you think about God, what do you picture? What characteristics do you give him? How do these assumptions impact your relationship with God? And, most importantly, are these assumptions correct? Do they line up with the Bible and what you know to be true about God? If not, they have the potential to be a stumbling block in your relationship with Jesus, and you may not even know it.

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