Of course, there’s more to developing our relationship with God than just, learning humility. When God talks about Christian development in the Bible he uses metaphors about construction or farming. My favorite is John 15:5, “I am the vine and ye are the branches.”
One of my mentors, Mike Galeotti, combined this verse with Isaiah 53:5 “by his stripes we are healed.” Pointing out that we are like orphaned branches, cut off from God by our sin. Christ is like a perfectly good tree that is cut in order to graft in a branch from another tree. By Christ’s wounds, we are grafted back into the family of God.
The path of the postmodern cleric is all about being a conduit for God’s glory. Taking the nutrients that God provides, being changed by them, and ultimately handing them off to others as fruits from our branches.
Here’s the metaphor as I see it. We are like a tree with branches, leaves, etc. Even a trunk, but not roots. Our roots are now in Christ where we are grafted back into God.
Our identity, by the way, that happens in the trunk. We can’t know who we are without being grafted. The other option is lying on the ground dying. Then your identity is more like a rock in a stream that used to be part of a big boulder. Sure we can use a name and characteristics to distinguish it from other types of rocks, but its still not a living object and it doesn’t have an identity. Your identity is about how you will shine God’s glory.
To do that you must receive it, that’s why Primacy comes first. If there’s no water coming out of your garden hose, first make sure the hose is turned on and the right hose is hooked up.
The next book, about identity, will cover how the good from God transforms you. That’s all about the wilderness. We actually can glorify the Kingdom before we know who we are, but the process is much more rewarding after we find our unique identity.
God desires to be worshiped in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). That means knowing yourself and being present to God as you are. By the way, in order to see yourself clearly, you’re going to need humility. It boggles the mind, huh?
The focus of the rest of this book will be on the constraints which hamper our ability to receive what God is handing us. You’ve already been exposed to the first constraint, pride, and in the appendix, you’ll get a better look at it.
But wait! Shame
We can’t leave the topic of humility without discussing shame. It’s pride that causes shame, not humility. That’s sure not what we grow up believing, huh?
God never shames us. In fact, he wants to shine his Glory out through us uniquely. Can he shine his own glory without us, sure, but we actually dream of doing this for God. In book two we’ll discuss this concept further, but for now, the short explanation is that bears like being bears and eagles like being eagles. There’s a great joy in simply being who you were meant to be. Most of our feelings of shame come from being a bear who believes in order to matter he must fly, or worse an eagle that believes in order to be happy he must be safe and that means he must never fly. To make it worse, we’re often motivated by fear of something that may not even happen. But more on that in book 2.
Shame is rooted in pride. When pride informs our expectations, our vision of who we are and what we want is skewed. So first, pride skews what we think we deserve by marring our vision of ourselves and the world around us and our relationship to God. Then pride lands on our failure to get what we think we deserve with a shame attack that says we didn’t try hard enough, or maybe God doesn’t love us as much as we love ourselves, or he’s holding out on us, etc.
Shame in Men & Women
As men, it generally comes down to feeling inadequate. We respond to not getting what we want by agreeing with Satan that we aren’t enough, that we don’t have what it takes.
As a response, because pride tells us we’re on our own to fix it, we lower the bar and try for less. Or sometimes we simply stop doing things at which we might fail. Without really saying it aloud we accept twisted ideas like–if I make enough money it won’t matter that my wife cries herself to sleep every night.
How can we enter a promised land—where we can’t go in our own strength—if we’re on our own to fix our situation?
Pride takes a different course with women, but it still blinds them. When women feel like they aren’t getting what they deserve they often feel like they are too much. They are demanding more from the people in their lives than those people want to give them, and that means they aren’t loved as much as they thought they were. They stop seeing the signs around them that they are loved.
The truth is that your situation isn’t anything compared to your standing in Christ. If God is working all things to your benefit (Romans 8:28) then your circumstances can never be bad. That’s another book entirely (written by my mentor, Graham Cooke).
I know we’re covering a lot of territory in this chapter. I’ll bring it back full circle before the chapter ends.
Rough Situations Happen
Sometimes our situations are serious. When someone dies, you need to grieve. We can’t live in denial of the pain around us. Living from your standing in Christ instead of your circumstances doesn’t mean ignoring reality, it means not reverse engineering your problems to mean you’re not loved.
Whether man or woman when we land in a situation that makes us feel unloved it’s our definition of love that must change. Being a grown-up means that being hurt by life, by a fallen and unfair world, by not getting what we thought we needed, doesn’t change a thing about how God feels about us. We are loved. Period.
Sure, God could have done something about the harm that came to us. Sure, he could give us what we believe we deserve. Our promised land doesn’t have to be filled with giants—but it is. I can only tell you what I know by faith, that God can redeem any situation. He can bless you for, and through any suffering. Heaven is glorified by your suffering, and Jesus always acknowledges your faith.
In Luke 8:43-48 a woman believed that touching Jesus robe would heal her, and it did. But Jesus felt it, stopped, and acknowledged her faith. That’s something He always does.
Again Pride Blinds
If we aren’t feeling God working in our circumstances it can be that our pride demands relief. When we beg God to end our suffering and he does for a time, we delay the redemption of that lesson which will bring the blessing he wants to give us. When we play the martyr, we aren’t waiting upon God to redeem the circumstances. Instead, we settle for half payment.
If we can just step back, humbly, into God, then we can have His solution to our problem and it will be accompanied by a huge blessing.
That is the next big constraint to receiving our abundance and entering our personal Promised Land. Our way of squirreling out of our situations in our own power is a major constraint on our ability to receive the Good that God is trying to give us. We pray without ceasing that God would stop the situation He created to give us what we couldn’t receive through any other means.
The Silver Lining
The good news here is that God isn’t saying you must be poor. He’s not demanding that you perform in certain ways in your own strength, even in response to situations where he wants to bless you through hardship.
What I’m pointing to is simply that we make agreements of self-concept that says I need X to feel okay. I need to make $X per month. I need to live in this neighborhood to be safe. I need to be married to be happy and secure. I need to be physically fit in order to be healthy and feel good about myself. We manufacture a list of circumstances in which we can feel okay and if God doesn’t come through with those then he doesn’t love us or we’ve blown it and he isn’t blessing us.
Sometimes God pulls one of these legs out from under us so that we’ll lean on him. That has the effect of moving us closer to Him. It builds intimacy. How can you enter the Promised Land and abide in the abundance due to Christ if you won’t live in a state of dependence on God?
Would you rather have the right situation or would you rather have a red phone to the most powerful being in the universe?
Put simply, Pride blinds us and leads to shame. Shame leads to a false self-concept where the situation we want becomes our source of feeling okay. When you humbly accept who God says you are and your relationship with him is all you need to feel okay. Then you become impervious to spiritual bullets and primed to receive good things from God.
This is a major reason to elevate God to first priority in our lives. A.K.A. Primacy.
This page under construction.
Expected update 4/15/2018