Creating Caring Communities That Transform Lives
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Monday, November 18, 2013 @ 9:38:00 AM - Written by Doug Hignell -

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, our view of God determines our response to Him. Just as there are two polar views of God, there are two opposite responses: am I going to focus on trusting God or pleasingGod?


The most challenging and encouraging book I've read this last year is The Cure by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall. They ask a significant question: "What if God isn't who you think He is and neither are you?" They clearly articulate two potential responses to God, describing them as two different roads.


We're probably all familiar with the "pleasing God" road. Even at our best, we sometimes slip into this response to God. If we take the "pleasing God" road, we quickly end up in the "room of good intentions," where we strive hard to be all God wants us to be through self-effort. In this room, we work on our sin to achieve an intimate relationship with God. Often, this evolves into something about how I can keep God pleased with me by doing more right than wrong.


When we think in this way, we begin to believe the lie that more right behavior + less wrong behavior = godliness. The result of this is that we often begin wearing a mask, not letting people see who we really are because of our guilt and shame. Unfortunately, the truth is that we can never resolve our sin by working on it.


Instead, the "trusting God" road leads us into the "room of grace." In this room, we live out of who God says we are rather than trying to live out of what we think God wants us to be. The goal is to mature, not to try and change ourselves. We are already changed. We are already grafted into the Vine. Quoting from page 19 of The Cure:


"You're in the Room of Grace! Grace! That word appears 122 times in the New Testament. The Judaizers in the apostle Paul's day hated it. They feared what it would do if it got loose. 'Paul, you can't tell them this!' they said. 'These people are immature, lazy and have little religious background. They'll abuse as soon as they can. They'll live Christianity-lite. These people are weak and want to do whatever they want. And believe me, what they want is not good.'"


"Paul responds....this way: 'you'd have a great point, if it wasn't for two truths. First, these people have a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17). They have Christ in them (Col. 1:27). They're not who they were. They don't want to get away with anything. They want to enjoy Him, and can't find a way to do that within your ugly system. Second, they have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) who is able to correct, encourage, rebuke and challenge. They have God, you know.'"


Pleasing God is a good desire, even when we live in the "room of grace." However, it just can't be our primary motivation, or it will quickly imprison our hearts. Pleasing God is a by-product of trusting God: it is the fruit of our godliness, not the means to godliness. Which room do you live in most of the time? How could you live more in the "room of grace?"


Thank you Doug for sending me your blog. Trusting God is a very big thing to me right now at this point in my life. It's what I cling to and I'm trusting God for a miracle.
Jeannette @ 10:42:00 AM 11/18/2013
Doug, Thanks for your post. It's thought provoking and it leads me to this train of thought. The self-righteousness of those involved in organized religion might find themselves more in the "pleasing God" or "room of good intentions". This is a competitive room by which people measure themselves by how much "right" they do based on their perceptions of right and their perceptions of the "right" that other people should be doing. You hit it right on the head, people in this room wear a mask that doesn't let people see who they really are and more importantly this room or "state of mind" prevents people from doing the soul wrenching work of discovering their true selves or true nature. Focusing on sin is such a guilt ridden exercise that turns people away from religion and God. Instead we should be focusing on the common natural goodness in all of us and manifesting compassion. We can find this in the "room of grace" and inevitably it will lead to a better understanding of ourselves and our relationship with God at a deep and personal level. It breaks my heart seeing so many people involved in the atheist movement but I can totally understand their aversion to being in the "room of good intentions" or being involved with a group that measures themselves by being right.
Jody Gallaway @ 6:10:00 PM 11/18/2013
Thank you Jeannette and Jody for your comments. Living in the "room of grace" as we trust God is not easy. Family and religion have often encouraged us to live in the "room of good intentions" resulting in wearing masks. Though it would be easy to blame our struggles on these forces outside of ourselves, often my struggle is more internal because of my human desire to please people. Recently I have been reflecting on the famous Cole Porter song "Don't Fence Me In" made popular by Bing Crosby and Roy Rogers. Sometimes the fences are external fences placed by family, religion and the world. But if I am honest, many of the fences that have kept me locked in the "room of good intentions" have been of my own making.
Doug Hignell @ 5:15:00 PM 12/1/2013

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