Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Is God on our side?

I've been prompted to think about this question this morning by a Twitter conversation.  It started with someone posting this:

God is on your side. He knows you completely, accepts you unconditionally, and loves you wholeheartedly.

Now, this comes from a highly respected, well-known leader, and I agree with him on most points generally speaking, but I found myself wondering about how helpful this particular comment was.  I know exactly what he's trying to do - people often believe that God can't stand them, and they need to know that he loves them more than they could ever really grasp.  But is He really on their side?  Is that the best way of expressing things?
My main issue is that, as I understand it, God is on our side when we are on His.  The quote above seems a bit me-centred.  To me, it's saying that I've got God with me.  Actually, I think this is only the case if I'm with God.  Maybe that's a bit pedantic, and I'm sure it would be possible to argue that people need to hear that God cares about them.  But my response would be to say that we can tell them that more accurately, without claiming that 'God is on your side'.  Because I'm not sure He is until we are on His.  And actually, it is far better for us to be on God's side than for Him to be on ours.  Us being on God's side reminds us that He is in control, not us.
Simply saying 'God loves you' instead might be a little overused and under-considered, but it could readily be developed by saying something more about how He has shown that love.
The above tweet could perhaps be improved (in my opinion!) simply by dropping the first sentence.

What do you think?

Am I being unnecessarily pedantic?

Is it ok to say 'God is on your side' as a general statement?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Keeping guard.

When I was growing up, one of the people who lived next door to us for a while had an armed guard at the end of the driveway (no, this wasn't in England...).  He'd often sit just outside the gates with his gun on his lap.  I can't off hand remember his name, but he did sent me a Christmas card one year.  There's a fair chance we still have the card somewhere...  Anyway, I'm wandering off the point, which is the guard.

As it happened, the house next door never came under attack, but the guard was still there.  I guess if the house had come under attack, he would have protected it.
And this morning, I was reading in Philippians about rejoicing and the like.  Here's what I read:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  
Now, this includes (I'm talking basics here...) one thing to avoid, one thing to do, and one result.
Avoid being anxious.  Paul (the guy who wrote this letter to the Philippians) is talking about real stuff here.  The Philippians had reasons to be anxious.  We know from the rest of the letter and from other sources that life was always easy for them.  So Paul isn't saying, 'if something bad crops up, try not to worry about it', he's saying, 'you know all those things that you're struggling with at the moment? - Don't get anxious about them'.
Present your requests to God.  The Philippians are to do this with thanksgiving.  That will help them to focus on God's love and provision for them, and focus less on themselves.  They know full well that God can meet their needs - praying with thanksgiving will help to remind them of this.
The peace of God will guard your hearts.  This goes beyond our understanding, as Paul says, but the word he uses for 'guards' is like a sentry.  It's like the guy next door with his armed guard at the bottom of the driveway.  The guard stands there (or sits there...) and guards the house for him.  In the passage, it's God who guards our hearts, his peace that protects our minds.  And as guards go, that's a pretty amazing one to have.

What do you get anxious about?

What thankful requests can you bring to God?

What do you think about God's peace 'guarding your heart'?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Rot and roots

We were having one of our many wanders around Calke Abbey recently, and came across this tree.

It looks ok doesn't it?  Bit short, perhaps...  But then you have a look around the other side and this is what you see.
Not looking so good now, is it?  You see, the tree looks like it's doing fine, but actually it's rotting away at the base.  That got me thinking.  And then, blow me down (perhaps that's not the right phrase to use here...), we got home and I found this in the orchard.
It's one of our plum trees.  Half of it has fallen over.  Not the first plum tree we've lost, sadly, but there we go.  And what do you find if you look at the bottom of the tree?
Rotten roots.

We can be a bit like that, can't we?  We might be looking fine and dandy, but if our roots aren't good; if they're rotting away gradually, it's only a matter of time before we collapse.  I wrote about Rootedness a while back.  We all need to be rooted if we're to survive and flourish.
As a Christian, I know how important it is to be rooted in my relationship with God.  That's not to say it's easy, just that it should be a real priority.  At the moment, I'm finding it hard to prioritise the things I should, but these trees were a helpful reminder that I need to look after my roots better.

What are you rooted in?

Are your roots nice and healthy, or have you got some work to do?

What can you do to help your roots grow?