As we seek to become people of fully realized potential, we ask a most vital question, “Is God committed to me and to the realization of my fullest potential?”
From Heidi Reeder, author of Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals, we understand her perspective of the scientific equation of commitment.
(Treasure – Troubles) + Contributions – Choices = Commitment
When we consider God’s relationship with us through the framework of Heidi Reeder’s commitment equation will we find that He is committed to us?
In a previous presentation we determined those who actively trust in Jesus for salvation are treasured by God.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine. Exodus 19:5
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9, 10
The commitment equation requires us to subtract from the treasure quotient the degree to which the entity is troublesome.
Therefore, in determining God’s commitment to me, it is urgent for me to consider:
- Are human beings trouble for God?
- If so, how does the trouble I cause Him impact His commitment to me?
Our Resurrection Sunday teaching highlighted “The Impossible Possibility” as a moniker for Jesus. Being fully human and fully God, Jesus was both impossible and possible.
- Man can’t be God, but Jesus is.
- God can’t be human, but Jesus is.
In what we might call a Divine Paradox, opposites are both equally true in God.
“A paradox is a statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to an apparently-self-contradictory or logically unacceptable conclusion. A paradox involves contradictory-yet-interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persist over time.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox
True Premise One
God cannot be troubled.
True Premise Two
God is troubled by human beings.
Christians who are uncomfortable with paradox create ways to remove tension from the Biblical record. In understanding today’s Old Testament text (Genesis 6:5-8), for example, their belief requires them to remove the tension created by the troubling of God by humans.
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
Notice what is happening in the heart of God in verse 6 and 7.
- The Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth,
- And it grieved him to his heart.
- For I am sorry that I have made them.
God’s response to “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” was “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land.”
God’s response is not in anger but from His heart of great compassion that was grieved and sorrowful.
The vengeance of God is the other side of His great compassion.
Since God is totally committed to His creation He must take action against that which destroys it.
Since God loves humanity, He must take action against that which destroys humanity.
In the Genesis flood, mankind experienced the other side of God’s compassion; His vengeance.
Humanity today is no better than the humanity of Noah’s day. Their rebellion is our rebellion. Their wickedness is our wickedness.
It is truly a paradox, an impossible possibility. Although God cannot be troubled, you and I trouble the heart of God.
Notice the shift in the heart of God following the flood. Genesis 8:21-22
“And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Walter Brueggemann states this change beautifully.
What has happened is a change wrought in the heart of God, who will no longer take vengeance. The move in God’s heart from 6:5-7 to 8:21 suggests that instead of humankind suffering, God takes the suffering as “his” own. God resolves to turn the grief in on “himself” rather than to rage against “his” creation. God bears the vengeance of God in order that “his” creation can have compassion. Praying the Psalms, page 77
Since my sin (like Noah’s generation) is troubling for God, how then will I experience the other side of God’s great compassion (vengeance)?
In what ways will I experience the anger of God? The wrath of God? The judgement of God?
Some people will argue, “God is love and He cannot be grieved, filled with sorrow or anger. He never pours out wrath and judgement.”
Richard Niebuhr perceived this view in 1937. “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” The Kingdom of God in America, New York: Harper & Row, 1959 , p. 193.
God’s great compassion and the other side of His compassion are the same yesterday, today and forever. This isn’t a new day in which the God of the Old Testament somehow came to His senses and overcame a wrath problem.
Jesus’ death on the cross is the new flood.
The death of Jesus on the cross is the new ark.
I need not experience the vengeance and wrath of God because “Jesus, God’s son, took my place.”
On the cross God decisively demonstrated His great compassion for me. Because He loves me, He destroyed that which would destroy me.
On the cross God decisively demonstrated the other side of His great compassion, His vengeance. Because He loves me, He took His vengeance in upon Himself.
Notice the Bible’s revelation of the other side of God’s compassion for those who reject His provision on the cross.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
The Gospel is GOOD NEWS! God is the Impossible Possibility.
On the cross He has given us His compassion and taken the other side of His compassion in upon Himself.
In trusting Jesus you and I are the recipients of God’s great compassion.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Am I trouble for God? Yes, in every way.
Am I trouble for God? No, He took my trouble and His response to my trouble in upon Himself.
God is committed to me.
God treasures me.
God’s Son became my trouble.
God’s Son contributed His all for me in receiving God’s vengeance and wrath for my trouble.
What must I “take in upon myself” so that my closest friends and my tribe receive God’s compassion through me?
My fullest potential is only realized when I place my trust in Jesus’ ministry on the cross and extend this same love and grace to others. John 15:12, 13
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
MCA LIFE GROUP HOME WORK
Listen – My Story
- What is the most delightful recent addition to your life story?
- In what ways did you access Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames for your evangelism ministry?
Learn – Digging Deeper
- How comfortable are you with Biblical revelation of God’s wrath, anger or judgement? Consider John 3:36
- How comfortable are you with the Biblical revelation that in trusting Jesus for salvation He takes our place? Read Romans 5:6-11 and talk through the various things Jesus has done for us.
Lift – Prayer
- How would you like your Life Group to pray for you today?
- Is there someone you hope receives the wrath of God? Ask God to change your heart. Pray for them.
- Do you carry condemnation from something you have already confessed to God in repentance? Pray to trust God’s promise of removing His wrath.
Life – Taking it Home
- What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
- God’s commitment to you is costly beyond measure. To whom must you reflect costly commitment this week?