Monday, June 29, 2009

"Set Apart" Series, Part Three: Confessions & Questions

I have a confession to make: I'm at a place in life where I have more questions than answers about what it means to live the "set apart" life. Let me just share with you a handful of Scriptures regarding living out our faiths in the world.

We are "the light of the world." Matthew 5:14

We are to "go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." Mark 16:15

We as disciples of Christ are to "be brought to complete unity to let the world know" that Jesus loves them. John 17:23

We're not to "conform any longer to the pattern of this world," but to test and approve what God's perfect will is. Romans 12:2

The Bible teaches us to "say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age." Titus 2:11

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

"Friendship with the world is hatred toward God." James 4:4

"Do not love the world or anything in the world." 1 John 2:15

The verses go on and on, and it is very clear to me that God wants me in this world, sharing my story and letting His light shine in and through me. At the same time, He wants me to live a holy, blameless life, set apart for Him. For me, the rub comes while I'm trying to live these Truths out practically. Just when I think I've got a grasp on the balance in the two, something comes along to drive me back to my knees asking.

Living out the "set apart" life starts with confessing I have no idea how to do so. I need the Lord's wisdom, discernment and leading. As I pause and ponder, I also pray and praise, knowing that I'll only have what I need if I ask the Lord to provide it for me.

As I've shared from my gut with the Lord this week, here are some of the questions I've thrown out at him:
How can I be holy & blameless without clinging to legalism?
How can I be a light in this world without some of the darkness absorbing me?
Can I be out among those lost without becoming consumed by self-righteousness and judgment?
When something unfamiliar & scary comes along, will I trust You to help me face it, or will I try to protect myself?
Am I too wealthy, God? Do I need to give up more of my possessions?
How do I reach out to the hurting without their hurts consuming my heart and mind?
Is it okay to relax and have pleasure, or should I use every waking moment to reach others?
What in the world do I do with all this technology, God? What is the balance?

I'm back to the beginning in saying that I have more questions than answers, but I know as I continue to seek the Lord, He will teach me His heart. I'm skeptical of anyone who says they've got it all figured out, because I truly believe that the more we grow in our faith walks, the more questions we have, and the deeper they are.

I also believe this is where grace comes in. So many times, we use grace as our "get out of sin free" card, and it is true that when we repent, His forgiveness is readily available to us. But the deeper part of grace is that when we want to live righteously and falter out of ignorance or immaturity, His grace is there to meet us when we hit our knees asking the whys and hows. I love the way the Message puts it for us in Romans 8:26-28:

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting,
God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along.
If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter.
He does our praying in and for us,
making prayer out of our wordless sighs,
or aching groans.
He knows us far better than we know ourselves,
knows our pregnant condition,
and keeps us present before God.
That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives
of love for God is worked into something good."
It all goes back to the Lord. (Doesn't it always?) I'm so thankful He loves me enough to help me sort through my weaknesses, my wonderings, my wanderings. I praise Him that He takes my desire to please Him and brings it in line with the will of the Father as I surrender to the Holy Spirit. "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 1 John 4:4

What are some of the deep wonderings and ponderings in your faith walk?

13 friends shared a comment:

kindredspirits7 said...

Wow, What a statement: He knows us far better than we know ourselves, [Knows our pregnant condition,] and keeps us present before God. We are indeed pregnant, aka known as Marys of the world in the spiritual side of our awareness. We do and have conceived when he finds favor in us. Another words when we truly begin to know Him through spiritual transformation. We no longer view anything from our old carnal mindset. He is making Himself known. Glory!!!!!

Dana said...

I've asked some of these same questions. For a long time I really had a hard time with Paul's writings. He was so matter of fact with the gospel. He seemed to have it all together. Of course as I dug into the Word & grew in my own understanding, I realized Paul didn't have it all together, he struggled like I do with the day in and day out practicality of being holy. But he kept refocusing his eyes when they strayed from Christ. And that is what I am learning to do, daily focus my eyes on Christ, seeking His purpose and will.
Thanks! This is another great one!

Amy Bayliss said...

I am still in the midst of many of these questions. I think we all are. For me, questions still linger about why certain things are allowed to happen when God could very well prevent it. I question why some people seem to go through so much and yet others sail through life untouched. But... I trust Him.I guess we have all of eternity to ask Him some of these things, don't we?

Debra said...

My sweet sister,

Thank you for stopping by today and yes, I've been on quite the journey...it's had me asking some questions too. However, He is so faithful to show us the way.

I've missed you. Big hugs to you!!

Denise said...

Praise God that we know the One who has all the answers dear friend. I love you.

The Real Me! said...

I say as long as you have questions you will never stop communicating with the Lord and that's what He wants. Keep asking away my friend. The Lord loves it!
Big Hugs.
Kim

Peter Stone said...

You're making us think there, Laura, and good questions too. I agree that we can't think that we've reached that place, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, no doubt the 'finished' bit will be when we go to be with Him.

It is important to find a balance, not being judgemental, avoiding the legalism trap, not carrying others burdens ourselves, learning not to reject myself when I blow it - all things I have to work on with His help on regular occassions.

Main thing is to love the Lord with our heart, mind, soul and strength, and seek first His kingdom. As we do so, He will lead us onward and upward, helping us to be holy and living sacrifices, set apart from this world.

Lisa said...

Thanks so much for your insight and all the wonderful verses. Nice to know He's praying for us when we're too weak to say the right words.

Joanne Sher said...

I have a lot of the same questions. Finding that balance is SO tricky. But only God can lead us.

Patty Wysong said...

Those questions run through my mind a lot too. When we focus on Jesus, He leads us every step of the way...

Karen said...

All the questions you posed in this post are good ones. I know that the very first one you asked: "How can I be holy & blameless without clinging to legalism?" is one that I've wondered at times too. Balance is the key - this I know. But sometimes it's really hard to keep that balance! Wouldn't you say? I've heard an old say that goes something like this: the older I get the more I realize I don't know much. Or something like that.

Great post!
Hope you have a great week!
Karen

P.S.
Have you ever thought about doing a Mr. Linky with these posts?

Susanz Place said...

I so get where you are. I never like to recommend books other than the Word of God - good grief most people wont even do that one right but i read a book about 6 months ago that really cultivated an understanding of many of these questions in my heart "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan - it is ssssssooo worth the time to read this. I'm sure you won't be able to read it just once.
Now my big question that I'm pondering and praying through is what do I do now that I realize that we have made church something God never intended. We have made it about us and some how lost the real focus of the lost, dying, and hurting. We have become about our Christian bubble and view non-believers as these people in bondage never even considering our own bondage that we are sufficating in. God help us to take the next RIGHT step.


keep chasing righteousness!!!

dthneece said...

I just want to say "thank you" for your blog. Thank you for your fellowship. God bless you!