Wednesday, March 3, 2010

stream of consciousness. kinda.

I'm doing lots and lots of laundry. And, let me tell you, it is just so fun. Well, okay. Not really. Last night we attended a Bible study, which was "hosted" by our ABF teachers from church! They're studying Suffering & the Sovereignty of God, and it was great! 3 hours of talking about pain, God's will for our suffering, and the prosperity Gospel.

And we got to talking about "levels" of happiness in Heaven, which Johnathan Edwards talks a lot about. I'd seriously never heard of this. Ever. And I thought "What?!?" But, lo & behold, Scripture backs it up (Matthew 5:11-12, Romans 2:7, Luke 19:17-19, 2 Corinthians 9:6, 1 Corinthians 15:41). And John Piper even agrees with it. It just kind of ... shocked me?

So then we got to talking about no going out to SEEK pain and suffering just to get on good terms with God so we can "get a better reward." And after that, we began talking about tithing and the motives of tithing. Some people tithe to get "blessed by God" and have the mindset that: If I write this check, God will give me want I want. And I don't mean cars or money, but even things like health, children, a happy marriage, etc.

But what if you JUST tithe because God says so? And what if you feel like "I don't really want to write this check, but God commanded me to, so I will obey."

Is that bad? I know that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7), but does He not also delight in His children simply obeying? I think so. Especially in the beginning of a Christian's walk with God. And hopefully, as a Christian grows, the giving WOULD become a joy and it would become second nature. But, to a young Christian? I think it's fine (and expected) for it to be difficult to give. But obeying God is more important.

In my opinion.

And, of course, we discussed the fact that God wills and lets His children suffer. He just does, and it isn't a "selling" point for Christianity. And it's safe to say that Joel Osteen won't be bringing this fact up. But the truth is that we will all suffer. And it doesn't mean that we'll always be beheaded for following Christ, or that we will be murdered or even that we will get breast cancer and die. But we will all have suffering, and we should expect it.

And just because we're Christians, we aren't exempt from suffering. But we should remember and know that God will bring good out of it, because He promised to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11).

So I'll end with this:

You cannot show the preciousness of a person by being happy with his gifts. Ingratitude will certainly prove that the giver is not loved. But gratitude for gifts does not prove that the giver is precious. What proves that the giver is precious is the glad-hearted readiness to leave all his gifts to be with him. This is why suffering is so central in the mission of the church. The goal of our mission is that people from the nations worship the true God. But worship means cherishing the preciousness of God above all else, including life itself. It will be very hard to bring the nations to love God from a lifestyle that communicates a love of things. Therefore, God ordains in the lives of his messengers that suffering sever our bondage to the world. When joy and love survive this severing, we are fit to say to the nations with authenticity and the power: hope in God.

-John Piper


  1. I don't know how I feel about the tithing situation, and that God is happy in His children being obedient even if they don't want to be. Our obedience should be out of reverence and gladness to glorify Christ, not just because we're commanded to do something. I mean, maybe God would *rather* us be obedient than disobedient, even if we don't understand a command, but I don't think it matters how young a believer is in their faith to determine whether or not they're happy in their obedience. I guess I just don't see how being obedient to God's commands could be a burden to any believer, because if we're called to do something, we should delight in obeying no matter what, because it glorifies Christ. It should *always* be a joy, not something that just happens as we grow in our faith.


    Good post!

  2. I agree with Brittney. I think that Philippians teaches a lot about finding joy no matter what, and having joy in doing God's will. It seems that if you're just "doing it to do it" it's more of a checklist Christianity--going through the motions rather than being committed to His cause. I think it's important to obey Him even when we struggle to and may not understand, but it should never be a burden. 1 John 5:3- His commands are not burdensome.

    Another point, maybe I just don't understand, is the levels of heaven? Matthew 5 talks about their being a reward in heaven, I understand that. Romans talks about eternal life (living in heaven forever), I understand that. I don't believe that Luke 19 is talking about levels of heaven, maybe you can point out how you interpret that it is. I also don't think that 2 Corinthians is talking about "reaping bountifully" in heaven. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me that someone would "have a bigger mansion." It seems like being with God will be all the reward we will ever need--and everyone will get that. Some people won't get more "face time" than others. You make it or you don't. Maybe you can just help me to understand it a little better! =) And 1 Corinthians is talking about our resurrected bodies, not heaven. I don't know. I tried, I really did! Just help me out please.

  3. I am on my iPhone so I hope this posts. I had never heard of it either. But different verses point to the idea that the greater suffering you experienced on earth, the greater joy you will have in heaven. We didn't study it in depth; it was just mentioned. When I get home, I will copy and paste the exerpt out of John piper's book. He agreed with it completely. I'm hoping my friend Chris knows more about it. Because I sure don't know much, but different verses back it up! Regardless, we will all be perfectly happy in Heaven. That isn't what I meant, and it isn't a thing about mansions. I'll write more later! :)

  4. I definitely agree that everyone who makes it to heaven will be joyful--more than we can even fathom here! I don't know who John Piper is though, and even if he "agrees" with the point--I don't know, I find it hard to trust in men's words over what the Bible points out.