This was a question I read on a Facebook page recently. It got me thinking, “What is it leads me to believe that God’s work in me is real?” In a word, “hardship!”
Although I believe hardship to be a key element of God’s work in the lives of His people, His children, it is of itself just the first step in God’s process of transformation. Many leaders within the 21st century church system point to health, wealth and numbers of people (e.g. attending, listening or viewing) as the evidence that God is with them. For me, if someone says they belong to God I want to know what hardship they have endured, how God brought them through and what they learnt as a result. For me, hardship for God’s people leads to the following:
· Learning to take God at His word.
· Learning to understand His plans and purposes.
· Learning to willingly cooperate with God.
· Learning to relate to God on His terms.
· Learning to learn from God.
· Learning to relate to people according to God’s will.
· Learning to rest (from our own efforts) in Him.
· Learning to exercise God’s authority in the spiritual realm.
· Learning to exercise God’s wisdom.
· Learning to build (in the spiritual realm) according to God’s design.
It is my firm belief that real salvation means leaving the past behind to journey to a new and different future in Christ, what I often refer to as, “a journey of personal transformation”.
How does real salvation work (get things done)?
We might ask, “what is the difference between the way men get things done and the way God gets things done?” We can think of the difference between a production line and an ant colony.
The typical production line has all the hallmarks of human endeavour, hierarchical relationships, coercive power, repetitive actions and a predominance of one-way communication. Ants, on the other hand, have no “leaders” telling them what to do and how to do it. Ant colonies are sometimes referred to as “super organisms”, with an “unseen force” is at work. Ant colonies have a “synergy” about them and are often talked about as being one of the most successful species on the planet. Ant colonies give us a perfect picture of the way in which God works with His people.
It is my firm belief that God has a, “new and living way” of getting things done, an “organic” way of working:
· No hierarchy.
· Absence of coercive power.
· Absence of routine.
· Continuous dialogue.
For human beings to relate to God and each other in this way takes faith, trusting God to do what He has promised (amongst men) and that He has the ability to make things happen, God doesn’t need our efforts, He desires our cooperation. This leads to the question, “What does real salvation look like?”
The eternal purposes of God.
For many years my life revolved around the 21st century church system, which primarily consisted of buildings, meetings and services. This system tends to use two performance measures to evaluate its effectiveness:
1. The number of interactions with people (e.g. attendance, membership, “conversions” and so on).
2. Amounts of money (e.g. tithes, offerings, wages and expenses)
This leads to a preoccupation with quantities. God, on the other hand, has a totally different agenda to the 21st century church system. He is working with His people to prepare:
· A wife for the Son.
· Children for the Father.
· A House for God’s Spirit to live in.
· A city God’s people can call theirs.
We can see from scripture that the primary concerns God has for His people centre around qualities, a faithful wife, a legitimate son, a solid (well constructed) house and a city that is safe to live in.
So what constitutes real salvation? I would say that it is the exact opposite of everything that constitutes the 21st century church system.