Saturday, January 30, 2010

one word: unshakable

a few weeks ago, i reposted an article entitled: "One Word." this article challenges us to look toward the new year seeing what God has for us in the simplest terms possible: one word. not one phrase or one idea but one single word. this is especially challenging to those of us who suffer from, ahem, prolixity.

i would like to follow up with any who actually read this post and ask if the Lord has given you a word for the year yet. if He hasn't please do not force one out. the word should be the result of dedicated prayer and searching. it took me quite some time to hear my word.

some possibilities for me were:

  • change
  • grow
  • flex
  • stretch

you can see a bit of a theme here. essentially, the Lord has been challenging the way i consider His word, His people, His church, His plan, His love, and His-Self. essentially the whole of my accepted understanding of God and how He works in people is being shaken. but God has promised in His faithfulness to show me something unshakable 

i began writing this post prior to the Haiti earthquake on january 12th. in the aftermath of the disaster i had forgotten the "one word" idea altogether. my world has, quite literally, been shaken. almost immediately following the news, the Lord pressed hebrews chapter 12, one of my favorite passages, upon my heart. i would love to share the entire chapter with you, it is remarkable, but for the sake of your valuable time and interest, i will limit it to the last six verses:
[but you have come] to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks of better things than that of Abel. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying,

'Yet once more I shake not only the earth but also heaven."

Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as the things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (hebrews 12:24-29)
now, i must not pretend to know God's plan in these much-shaken days. in spite of or because of that, as a Christian, i am disgusted by those that would stand in the shadow of the pain and suffering of the people of haiti and proclaim it God's judgment or the triumph of Satan on earth.

let me be clear, God is not now nor has He ever judged the earth. when man fell from his initial state of perfection, God granted us a moratorium on His wrath. judgment of and punishment for sin has been suspended until the end of earth-time. (rom 14:10, 1 cor 4:4-5, rev 20:11-15).

the second claim is not quite so clear to me. several passages in the bible (john 12:31-40, john 14:30, john 16:11, 1 cor 10:20, eph 2:2, eph 6:12, 1 john 5:19) describe Satan as the "ruler" or "god" of "this age" or "the world." he is describe as having sway over the hearts of men. prior to Christ's coming, God granted Satan the power to bring about disasters of the earth to afflict His servant, job. it seems that until God granted Him this power, He could not do so. either this was because God protected job or because Satan had not the power to work such things. in another passage Jesus says that he must leave the earth because "the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me" (john 14:30). this almost suggests that it was not until after Jesus ascended that Satan was made ruler of the world. or perhaps that was when he fully came into his rulership.

in any case we know that the current age on earth is ruled by satan. col 1:14 says that when we are saved by Christ, God "translates" or "conveys" us into the kingdom of the "Son of His love." still the world remains under the sway of the devil, and if he had power, unchecked, to afflict job with natural disasters, then it would seem reasonable that he could do the same now.

however, what is the result when we settle these disputes? has satan overthrown God in haiti? has God given haiti over to their sinful ways? is haiti a poor and afflicted country because of it's pact with the devil. remember that, in job's case, he was not afflicted because of his sin. similarly, when asked about the sin that caused blindness in a particular man, Jesus responded that it was not for his sin that this man was blinded, but rather so that the glory of God could be revealed (john 9:1-3).

so we really cannot say definitively the reason for this affliction, whether it be the chastening of God, a natural result of sinfulness, or solely an opportunity for God to show His grace. but we can say definitively that in any and all cases we are called upon not to judge the afflicted but to comfort them. psalm 82:3-4 says, "defend the poor and fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and needy. deliver the poor and needy free them from the hand of the wicked."

it is a lie to excuse apathy that says affliction ought not be relieved if, when, or because it is a product of sinfulness. we are universally afflicted because sin reigns in this world. but do we, who are freed from it, who have been conveyed into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, abandon the sinking ship? God calls on us to stand, not in judgment, but "in the gap" (eze 22:30) as an advocate for the people.

in psalm 22:24 it says that He has not "abhorred the affliction of the afflicted." isa 61:2 says that the anointed of the Lord has come to comfort all who mourn. not just the sinless or forgiven, but all who mourn how can we do less?

it is important to remember, as it says in hebrews 12, the shaking of the earth indicates the removal of thins which are made so that the things that are unshakable will remain. focusing on the things which have been shaken, the earth and it's man made structures, brings to mind Lot's wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt as she stopped to look back at the burning city. Let us not look backward at the past to mull over haiti's oppressed and sad history. let us rather press on toward the prize of the upward call of Christ (phil 3:14). the reason for the affliction does not matter, it ought not even be mentioned, what matters is how we, the body of Christ, are moving to comfort others with comfort with which we ourselves are comforted (2 cor 1:4), not only in Haiti but across the globe and, more importantly, across the alley.

when the next terrible thing happens whether it be globally or in your life specifically, do not let your heart be troubled and burdened with the question, "why?" remember that we have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken, the only pieces that can fall are those that are perishing.

So God has promised in the next year that, if I let Him, he will show me what it means to be unshakable.

if you would like to contribute to compassion international's haiti earthquake disaster relief fund you can visit

Haiti Donate Online

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