Jan 3, 2008

pictures of salvation

It is absolutely wild how often you’ll find someone in a random public place taking a picture. Maybe it’s because the digital age allows us endless amounts of storage to keep our photos without any real expense, but this wasn’t always the case.

Back when people used standard cameras and had to spend money on film it seemed like we were a bit more selective about this. These cameras didn’t have a mini screen to show you if the picture had turned out or not, so you’d usually only find someone taking multiple pictures of something if it was real important and they wanted to be sure it turned out.

I’ve seen so many people over the years treat the issue of salvation the same way.

Maybe they pray a certain prayer to God during a church service with all their sincerity only to find that they’re tempted later in the week with the same old sins again. Suddenly doubt runs through their minds, and so they pray the same prayer again the next week, and the next, and the next. They truly want a relationship with the Lord but yet their life feels like the ideal picture of them with God never “developed.”

Too much insecurity.

Interestingly, others can be just the opposite and think that once they’ve prayed a prayer they’re done and can do whatever they want. It would be like taking a great photo of you smiling with your family but then treating them horribly in every moment after the picture was taken... this is a denial of the things a person who has the Spirit of God would exemplify - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness... and so on. Which situation do you think best captures the reality of that relationship – the photo with the fake smile or the disconnected relationship that vomits whatever it feels?

Too much security.

God didn’t want us to have to guess about our where we stand with Him nor did He want us to arrogantly abuse it, and so He offered a very clear Way to show us the Truth that offers us Life. Through Jesus Christ we not only get a “picture” of what God is like but also catch a “snapshot” of the life He dreams for us. Like a digital camera, we don’t have to wait until heaven to understand what is developing in our lives.

From Galatians 5:22-25, this is the picture that should be developing:

  • Love: Am I willing and able to let all things I do track back to a spirit of love? Or do people feel that I'm a bit carnal?

  • Joy: Do people around me get the sense I have a brimming joy in my life? Or do they sense that I'm somewhat bitter toward persons/people?

  • Peace: Is there a sense of contement within me regarding my lot in life? Or is there insecurity in my spirit?

  • Patience: Do I take the time to enter the world of others? Or do I demand that people follow my prescriptions for them?

  • Kindness: Am I known for my kindness? Or am I known for speaking against people?

  • Goodness: Do I practice my faith to bring about redemptive possibilities in others? Or do I create footholds for frustration and evil?

  • Faithfulness: Would people say that I stick with God's plan in all the places I would prefer not to? Or am I selective in the Scriptures I follow?

  • Gentleness: Would people describe me as a vice holding an unbroken egg? Or would they describe me as a vice with egg smashed all over it?

  • Self-control: At the end of the day would my conversations/thought life have included a lot of "I don't need to do that so I won't" - or would "That's just the way I am so look out" dominate?
Obviously no one is perfect in all of these things, but I'd simply encourage you to survey the fruit God longs to develop in your life. Maybe you're like me and you don't quite know how the camera works... the point is that it does.

If you let it.

It’s my hope that wherever you’re at with this right now that you’ll take in the fullness of the “Big Picture” – not only so that you can enjoy a confident relationship as a child of God but also be able to explain it clearly to others through your words... and your life.


donna said...

Great post Tony. I am about to join in a Bible study on the fruit of the Spirit. This would be an excellent introduction.

Ed G. said...

good words.

Awareness said...

I like this post. What comes to mind clearly is that we may know what God represents, and what God wants for us, and how He wants us to lead our lives, but because we are only human, we mess up along the way. We may want to show our love unconditionally, but sometimes our egos take over and we say something mean to someone we love for example.

Our learning and growing happens when we are feeling discomfort. By asking ourselves the questions you have put down here, and really taking a step back to assess our actions and our thoughts, we are going to feel discomfort because we most definately aren't perfect. If we can admit to ourselves and to God when we have messed up, we are open to seeing and showing our vulnerabilities, our brokenness in a manner that will allow us to try harder to strive for these life ideals.

Assessing, acknowledging our new awareness, and accepting that changing our ways is difficult but doable with God's guidance, love and forgiveness, we can strive to be better people.

I really like your analogy of the digital camera, as I often wonder what has happened before and after a picture has been taken. It truly is only the veneer of life isn't it? We need to dig much deeper than a one dimensional photo opp.

Tony Myles said...

Thanks for these words, guys. It really is a rather interesting deal of trusting in God by faith and yet somehow having a confidence that surpasses knowledge... even though it can't be explained like knowledge can. Wild... just wild.