“And God said… And it was so.” (Genesis 1)
God has revealed Himself, in the Bible, to be a God of immediacy.
This changes everything. We are not now constantly waiting for God to fix us or complete us, or make us something we need to be. The work has already been done – through Jesus, on our behalf. We just need to apply what He has done to our lives.
So why do most Christians still believe in a God of gradual processes? That He is constantly at work on us, to make us what He wants us to be?
Partly, the answer lies in the fact that this is what we have always been taught. People we have trusted (who, honestly, never intended to mislead us) have been teaching us this “fact” – just as they were taught this “fact.” It is one of those things that sounds so right, that we hardly ever bother to check it’s validity. It certainly aligns with most of our experiences – so why wouldn’t it be true?
But this underlines two of the great problems we encounter in our Christian walk.
First, we need to take personal responsibility for what we believe. None of us will stand before The Great Judge and pass the blame onto those who were teaching us. We are all called to take the Berean approach… receive gladly, but verify (Acts 17:11)!
Second, we tend to base our faith upon our experiences (and try to make the Bible fit into those experiences). We ought to base our faith upon what the Bible actually teaches us – and seek for our experiences to line up with God’s truth.
I will tell you from experience (no pun intended)… it is a whole lot easier to base our faith upon our experiences than upon the Scriptures. Why would that be?
It’s because our human experiences are based upon what we have discovered in the course of living our lives. This world has a “natural” way of things – that causes our experiences to be defined by a “natural” order. We do X, and we get Y, naturally.
We have observed and experienced, in our daily lives, that change is a slow-motion process (if it happens at all!). Life has taught us that complicated things happen over time. So when it comes to changing us, we look at our lives, and know there is much work to be done. We have no reason to expect things to happen, other than gradually. Eventually. And only (usually) after great effort (and time) is applied. This is all we have known in the natural world.
So when it comes to God’s work in us, we just naturally assume that His work is going to take time… and lots of it (in fact, it may take our lifetime [and beyond]). And for proof, we run to Scriptures like this: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) “There you go.” We say. “Proof positive. God begins a work in me… and will finish His work somewhere down the road.”
But… this is one of the most misquoted verses in all of Scripture. Why? Because we misinterpret one word. The word “you” is plural. It is not talking about God’s work in individual lives… it is talking about His work in the whole church at Philippi. God saved them all. He placed His calling upon them all. And is working out that calling through all of them together… until Jesus returns. The “good work” is their corporate calling to finish the work God gave them to do, as a whole.
So this verse is not talking about gradually working on individuals to bring them to “completion.” It is talking about God’s calling upon a whole church to reach their city with His love – and how God will work out that calling, through time.
This does not support the whole “God is constantly working on me” premise. It was never intended to do so.
God’s work, on our behalf, is a complete and a completed work. Jesus work is all-sufficient, for every person, for every need. And it is available in all its fullness, right now. We are not becoming new. We ARE new.
The God of immediacy would have it no other way.
Prayer focus: God, I seek to live in the fullness of Christ’s completed work on my behalf. Grant me to know what it really means to be new in You.