From The Second Half of the Cross
If we mistakenly think we have everything perfectly arranged financially and socially, we will also mistakenly think we have no need for God. An autonomous journey-of-self automatically pushes aside a journey of faith in fellowship with God, because we cannot live two opposing lives at the same time.
Is entirely self-controlling our destiny the underlying purpose of life? How is it that we would even independently know the real purpose of this short-in-length life for us? Is it written in stone somewhere? Is the purpose of life capably passed down to us from our parents and grandparents? Are we born into a world where the life-examples of the experienced adults around us clearly demonstrate the best approach to life (1 Pet. 1:18)? Judging by the chaotic, universally repetitive trial-and-error world around us, mankind in general has no idea what is the true purpose of our being here.
One of the basic questions, which people pause to think about during some period in their busy lives, even people with economic and social stability, is: “why am I here?”
Absent specific knowledge of our purpose in life, people in our modern culture who do not personally know God through an intimate walk of faith, vote with their self-will and their pocketbooks to choose the default, conventional, pleasure-driven, self-centered, spiritually risk-averse, and worldly predictable road.
How many people do we personally know, or read about in fiction novels, or watch in movies, who listen to God in the Spirit, subordinate their self-wills, and follow the life-plan that God could and would reveal to them as the optimum course of action? This approach does not exist in our popular culture because it involves surrendering all to Jesus Christ, because it involves the second half of the cross.
The worldly conventional life-approach has no faith or trust in God, but instead has faith and trust in ourselves. The type of risk, danger, and adventure that comes from faith and trust in the living God, who can compose and orchestrate a brilliantly creative life like David’s divinely planned and executed ascent to the kingship of Israel, does not exist in a God-less cultural environment.
The Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes of Jesus day were no longer the spiritual children of Abraham, because they held on to their self-will instead of submitting it to God. Like people of our own culture, they were afraid of the uncertainty of relinquishing their hold over the destiny of their lives into the trust of God’s care. Instead these Jerusalem leaders created their own form of religion based upon rules, regulations, and the performance of self-works rituals that replaced the living but more risky faith of submitting their lives to God.
We see this pattern throughout history in all man-invented, perfunctory religious experience. People will do almost anything to avoid having to give up their self-will to God, because deep down inside they are afraid. People are afraid to take the risk that God’s way might actually be better, because of the element of uncertainty of what God might do with their lives.
There is security in staying with what we know, rather than venturing out into a perilous journey of faith with Jesus Christ into the unknown. There is a sense of security in not letting go of the power we have over our own lives. This is the case, even when the recipient of this letting go of the power of self-sovereignty…Jesus Christ our Creator God…will lovingly re-direct this self-same power back down towards us in a more intelligently designed and beneficially purposed adventure-of-faith life-plan.
This is why many people have to reach the bottom depths of failure and suffering, to have nothing left to lose and nowhere else to go, before they will turn to God for His help. Sadly, Jesus Christ is often the last resort when He should be the first and most sensible beginning option in discovering our true purpose in life. That many people stubbornly hang on to their own self-in-control natures, to the ruin of themselves and often those around them, is one of the central, core problems with the human race.
David has to face Goliath in a life-and-death struggle at the beginning of David’s career, not because God sets up these types of contests for His own enjoyment, but because we must learn real faith and trust in God to see us through challenges when failure and falsification of God’s character are live possibilities.
In a biblical quality journey of faith we sometimes barely make it through the tightest of choreographed and integrated circumstances because this is one way amongst several ways that God uses to authenticate His direct participation in our lives.
Miraculous or near-miraculous deliverance through supernaturally choreographed events is one tool in God’s tool-kit to separate His ways above worldly conventional normalcy. We see this repeated throughout the narrative stories of the Bible for an eternally valid reason. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6) because without a context of circumstances requiring committed faith in the face of discouraging appearances, God cannot reveal to us His very real presence in our lives in stark contrast to the subjective, humanistically generated false experience of self-works “religion.”
The story of David’s anointing by Samuel, and his calling, exploits, and tribulations in route to the kingship of Israel is not a man-invented myth because the component of the active participation of God in David’s story in beyond the reach of the creative imagination and invention of human writers. An adventure of faith like David’s is unique to the Bible.
David can write the 23rd Psalm because he actually followed God through the valley of the shadow of death. David learned first-hand that he did not have to fear evil, when God was with him. Five of the most important words ever recorded in all of literature are: “for thou art with me” (Ps. 23:4). The contrast between the God-composed life of David, living on the knife’s edge of danger in faith and trust in God, and the self-led life in pursuit of security and self-preservation that will not venture out into the risky territory of faith in God, could not be greater.
The reward for David’s faith and trust is that he became Israel’s greatest king and fulfilled the purpose of his life (Ps. 139:14-18), and in doing so he came to personally know his Creator God.