Saturday, August 24, 2013

why a study on identity is so important

This week I had one of the saddest conversations I've ever had.  I sat with a close friend whom I have always regarded as a faithful, Godly man and whom I love like a brother.  His faith has sustained him through some incredible life battles.  With resolute determination he has walked through all these battles with God and his faithfulness has always been an inspiration.  Now, at a time in his life when things are going unbelievably well and full of promise, he has decided that the faith of his past will not be the faith of his future.  In fact, he has stated that he is very doubtful that he has faith of any description, other than in a vague, spiritual "higher being", yet to be determined.

{ might want to grab one of these before you go any further}

He is angry and resentful and feels like he has been lied to and manipulated for his entire life.  When I asked what had triggered this extraordinary about face, he said, with grace, that he simply didn't know.  Almost as if a mustard seed of doubt built to an astonishing conclusion of complete disbelief.  After gently, gently pushing for more specific areas of doubt he said that the traditions and doctrines of his denomination just seemed absolute rubbish.  Fear-mongering and confusing.  My heart absolutely went out to him.  I completely understood.  I've been there.  It's why religion so often fails.

The absolute tragedy about this situation is that if my friend had been taught to really love and meditate on the Word throughout his life and therefore learn who God really is without all the man-made scaffolding and detritus, this crisis of faith may well have been avoidable.   In truth, what he's facing is a crisis of confidence in religion, not a crisis of faith in Christ.  Problem is, if religion is all you know, you can't tell the difference.

Even in the more progressive style of  church worship, too often  a skewed interpretation of the Gospel is offered.  Bible cherry-picking for 21st century wants, not eternal needs.  A little misinterpretation the Word here, a re-imagining or dumbing-down of God there, perhaps a little sidelining of Jesus with a touch of re-calibration of the Lord's Sovereignty and the God-breathed truth of the the Bible.  Pharisees anyone?  Doesn't the enemy love that.....

{Um, yeah.... sorry.  The topic's getting a bit heavy - thought we needed some comfort food in the order of Mac 'n' Cheese}

Having said that, we are purposed to be part of the body of the church, we are purposed to gather together and fellowship and encourage and put on our lippy & favourite accessories on a Sunday.  We are to be a blessing to one another. We just need to be really discerning regarding where we're getting our teaching from and always, always be reading the Word and praying for discernment and wisdom.

The church of my youth had a fantastic Minister who was an ex-Barrister.  As such, he was a stickler for proof, reason and fact-checking.   He used to say to us after a sermon "Don't take my word for it!  I think what I've told you is correct to the best of my ability.  However, you should always, always compare what someone says to what the Bible says. I am just a man and well capable of making a mistake".   What a humble servant.  This was such a gift.  It gave us permission to listen to a sermon, respect our minister, but not elevate him to literally "God-like" status.    In doing so he trained us to use our whole selves when attending church.  Our heads, hearts, our prayer life.  I remember him also asking us to invite the Holy Spirit to read the bible with us, to help us discern God's truth and what He so earnestly wanted us to learn.

This brings us neatly to this week's bible study High Up and Set Apart.   We've been looking at the importance of God being "Holy".  Not just a really lovely, caring Father.  Holy.

I can't emphasise how important the first page of this week of our study was.  Here it is again in case you've missed it: {emphasis my own}

Our translated word “holy” in Hebrew is “qodesh” and the Greek is “hagios.” Both of these words mean “to be set apart.” When we say God is holy, we mean that He is separate, He is not like us at all, He is completely different. He is not just more loving, He is completely loving.   He is not just more righteous, He is completely righteous. God is infinitely more forgiving, pure, sovereign, powerful, awesome, and merciful than we could ever imagine. 

We need to fully comprehend the separateness of God in order to view Him correctly
Often times we may think of beings in the context of a ladder, with the smallest, least complicated living thing at the bottom, like an amoeba. Then as we move up the ladder we see more sophisticated creatures such as insects, then reptiles, animals and finally humans near the top. If we continue, we would guess angels come next and then, of course, God at the very top. 

We were correct until we reached the top. God is so holy that He cannot even be measured on the same scale. He exists in an entirely different dimension; He dwells in eternity. Unlike everything else, He is not a created being. He is so separate from us that any attempt at comparison is foolish. 

Pulling God Down 

We have a tendency to narrow our view of God. We bring Him down by underestimating His sovereignty and His ability to affect our situations. Our problems seem bigger than our God and we doubt His power to change our lives. We put Him in a box and allow Him out only on Sundays. In essence, we shrink Him down to fit our limited understanding. We are guilty of this when we don’t bother to pray about situations or people we assume will never change. 

Unknowingly we conclude the situation is far too difficult, or the person is much too corrupt, for God to affect. In failing to believe in His holiness, power and ability, we miss its release in our lives. When God remains where He should be, highly exalted above all the earth, everything and everyone is put into their rightful places.

That's why I love this study.

Before we can even fully understand who we are in Christ, we need to first learn, meditate, absorb, breathe in through our hearts, minds and souls who He is and what it means when the Bible says He is Holy.  Then go back and do it all again.  Especially,  when the fallen world comes knocking on the door to blow your house down.

My prayer for my friend this week and for you {and me} is that we can discipline our hearts and minds to fully comprehend who God is, why he is Holy and how that changes the way our lives should be lead.  Let's do it with reason, faith, fact-checking, grace,our bible and of course a really great cuppa.

Much love,
Meredy xo

This coming week.....
Be Holy, Because I am Holy 
{set apart from the rest of the world}
Page 86 under "Current Study" tab at top of page


  1. Wow Meredith, that really breaks my heart to hear that of your dear friend. satan really is roaming around like a lion waiting to devour those that love Jesus. I too empathise with your friend, being brought up often around much 'religion' and how 'it' can take away the grace and salt to God's word. I am thankful for His Spirit who lives In me! God knows & loves your friend and just as the Angel's do much rejoicing in heaven over 1 won soul, to lose a soul to satans snare would bring great saddness & sorrow. I will be praying for your friend.
    Warm love, Tam xo

    1. Beautiful Tam. Thank you dear friend for your prayers for my friend. What you've said here is a lovely reminder to be thankful for His Spirit - too often I can take it for granted! God bless your cotton socks:) M xo


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