Monday, January 16, 2017

God's Victory Depends On Us?

There’s a pivotal scene in the superheroes movie The Avengers, which I think we can all agree is now a classic, along with other greats such as Gone With the Wind and Rocky. 

That's right, I just compared a superhero movie, to a classic sports movie, to simply a classic. That's the kind of ridiculous I am.

Without revealing all of my geeky knowledge of superhero movies, suffice it to say there is a bad guy, Loki, who is bringing an army to earth. And there are the good guys, the Avengers, who are trying to stop him. One of those good guys is Iron Man. And just before the big battle begins, Iron Man makes a speech to Loki, where he concludes,

It's all on you, whether your plan succeeds or fails.
How is our focus on God like this? Not in a combatant way, of course, but our whole trust should be in God. This is His plan, His mission, and it's all to His glory. So the plan, whether it succeeds or fails, is all on Him.

And of course, we can have confidence that it will succeed.

Here’s the thing about this truth. If we say we trust God to be victorious, then we have to be all in. We can’t waffle between the sides in this war. Choosing to not take a side is to choose to not put your trust in God.

Jesus modeled this when He was tempted in the desert. The devil tempts Jesus to turn a stone into bread. Jesus was hungry. If He had any doubts about whether God would let Him starve, He could have chosen to have some bread right then.

Then the devil tempts Jesus with ruling over the kingdoms of the world. If Jesus had any doubts about whether He would rule over all the nations of the Earth, this was His chance to grab them.

Lastly, the devil tempts Jesus to throw Himself off the highest point of the Temple. Both Jesus and the devil knew God would send angels to protect Jesus. This wasn’t about protecting His life, but about attracting public attention. If Jesus thought He needed to become the first century Evil Knievel, this would have been a grand opportunity to make a splash. If Jesus had any doubts about His ability to draw a crowd, He could have chosen to do this.

But Jesus didn’t succumb to any of these temptations, because, just as He taught us to trust in God the Father, He did so as well. He knew the outcome was all on God.

Understand that God’s love can be believed because it was proven by action. If we say we are going to love people, then it must be shown by our action.

Something we like to do in youth and children’s ministries around Thanksgiving and Christmas, is to ask youth to list the things they are thankful for. Oftentimes we’ll get blank looks returned to us, as they struggle to figure out what they have to be thankful for.

Fresh on their minds is a recent math test, a fight with their sibling, a list of things their friends have but which they don’t. I often find it helpful to return to a list of the basics, things that are universal for us all.

  • Even in industrialized nations, we don’t have to look far to recall all the beauty God has made. Look to nature to see the beauty of God. Look up to see the vastness of space. Even if buildings and streetlights impede our view, Google it and look up some of the incredible views around this globe.
  • Look to the manger to remember how God willingly humbled Himself to be surrounded by us.
  • Look to His life and miracles to discover how God will bend the laws of nature simply because He can.
  • Look to the cross to remind yourself that there is absolutely nothing God was not willing to do to bridge the divide that stood between us and Him, a gap that was present because of our choices.
  • Look to a resurrection that tells us death is not the end.
  • Look to the promises lived out in the book of Acts, as we read how Jesus will return, but that He won’t leave us hanging in the meantime. His Holy Spirit, complete with guidance and power, has been imparted on every believer.
God's love is proven by action. And the success of His mission is resting all on Him. Perhaps we should live this year as if we believe that. 

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