Jim Rohn, a believer in Christ and world re-known motivational speaker, gave one of the best pieces of advice I have heard recently.
He said not to do what people say, but study, learn and decide what works for you. Choose what works with your values.
Everyone has values, but which one should dominate all others? How we respond is crucial because our choice can either hamstring or empower our lives.
Does God want us to put human insight or His word first?
Ultimately, the question of our highest value asks us to choose who or what will be the lord of our lives, to choose between what we can acquire and what God says, His perception of truth or our own.
Actually, the question appeals to a false principle introduced by society to separate God and science. Serving God with all our heart means being led by Him in the good, right, and appropriate use of all knowledge. The lynchpin to walking in truth, scientific or otherwise, is to love God with all our heart, in such a way as to find our willingness to hear Him and follow His direction with all good things.
This means that learning from science does not rule out God’s will, unless in our hearts we substitute society’s knowledge for the Lordship of Christ. If that is the case, then the issue is not with the sciences but with the heart, a problem not with our environment but with our identity. Giving God’s word less than its rightful place to govern our ambition reveals our need to fully become His.
We cannot acquire the greatest benefit from anything, no matter how good it seems, apart from the grace of God. If I can learn something apart from Christ and use it to master my fate, how am I as a believer in Christ, the cross, and His resurrection power any different from someone without faith? No one can complete in the flesh what God began in the Spirit. Why would we cling to the base principles of the world when all the blessings of heaven come through believing God’s promises?
Those of us who believe Jesus is Lord of all are called to seek for His reign first in our lives. This should be the believer’s highest value, and we should judge everything in light of Christ’s authority. Jesus is Lord of the principles of science, medicine, and economics but insight only makes its greatest impact through the power of God’s grace. Three fish could only feed thousands when Christ put them into service for the glory of God.
Look, for instance, at the issue of wealth and poverty. Should Christians devote study and determined action to break the cycle of debt and poverty?
The answer depends on how God chooses to lead an individual. If we will open every room in our heart to Him, God will speak relevantly into all areas of life including personal economics. He frames all concerns, ambitions, and knowledge in light of His will and purpose. As powerful as the sun, God’s word gives light to all of life.
God’s Spirit, in Genesis 1, hovered over the face of the deep, which had become formless and void. Over this abyss, God spoke, and light became. Everything that followed stemmed from what God said. All the produce in the earth, all the assets and equity (in today’s terms), came through Christ.
The same is true today. Consider the smoke of the abyss, the prevalence of evil, and the void of good these days drifting across the earth. God speaks into the desolation of the human heart to bring forth what is the good, acceptable service to Him in the world.
This has huge implications for us today. All that man perceives in his fallen state as good in and of itself pales compared to the real thing, what God speaks into existence in and through our lives, and what He has planned to accomplish to restore all things through the reign of Christ.
Because of the centrality of God’s word to all that is good, we can state unequivocally that God brings super-abundance to life not through selfish ambition but by divine result. Jesus told us not to seek what the nations of the world seek, and He promises to provide what we need when we seek Him first. The question is whether or not we are serving Christ in such a way that we expect all we have to stem from Him.
In other words, is God really first and only? God brings newness of life through the authority of Jesus, who cast out the prince of this world with the word of obedience, saying, “It is written, thou shall worship the Lord thy God and Him only thou shalt serve.”
No concept, no teaching, no principle, no matter how good, no matter how seemingly right on its own merit can be allowed to take the place of what God Himself says to us walking habitually with Him. There is only one true God, and His true servants can only become manifest by His word.
Imagine the apostle Paul stating he were going to learn all he could in a particular field and use it to accomplish the Lord’s purpose for his life. He said just the opposite. Paul asserted his apostleship did not come through man but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead.
Our heavenly Father’s goal is our deliverance from evil despite its deceptively attractive trappings. It is a deliverance from the ultimate poverty, a heart devoid of knowing God. Through faith in and obedience to what God says to us, Christ delivers us from the present evil world-system set to steal, kill, and destroy our access to abundant life. Walking with Jesus as Shepherd delivers us from serving mammon, a tempting yet wholly inadequate substitute for Christ as Lord.
Through true deliverance we can now participate in God’s plan of restoring all things under Christ’s Kingship.
What do we do, then, with all the positive insights from the fields of science, economics, human behavior, and so forth? Do we just not bother with them, just ignore them and pretend they don’t exist?
We do what God puts in our hearts to do and learn what He leads us to learn, subordinating all to His will. All things find their rightful place and expression in Jesus.
As Paul learned, human achievement is refuse compared with knowing Christ. As Christ’s ambassadors, we stand with His word against all the principalities that want to keep their authority unchallenged by the Lordship of Christ Jesus. Christ has already defeated each of them through His death and resurrection. We just need to trust Him and shine the light of His victory.
Applying Christ’s Lordship to the area of wealth and personal growth is one example of how Christ extends His reign through us upon the earth.
As you declare God’s word in contrast to the worldly wisdom in your field of service and sphere of influence, Christ demonstrates His power to put all things in their proper place under God.
Extending God’s word this way marks a paradigm shift for life and amplifies the power of God’s word to transform everything about it. God’s word is never an addendum or rubberstamp approval for earthly knowledge.
Living a super-abundant life, the kind Jesus promises us, happens by discerning God’s voice and obeying in grace. The question is how to get there from here.
We as humans are so susceptible to confirmation bias that we tend to see what affirms our assumptions whether what we are right or wrong. In regard to wealth, for instance, a person’s Bible knowledge may affirm poverty as a virtue or riches as a blessing.
Here is the dilemma. God wants to bless us, but we are not called to deliver ourselves. We are called to walk with our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus, and we are called to overcome.
Walking humbly and habitually with God as Noah and Enoch did before they were taken, and learning as Elijah and Peter did about the pre-eminence of God’s will opens heaven to earth and brings victory to life.
In order to strengthen the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament as he sat under the Juniper tree waiting to die, God prepared food, about which the angel said, arise and eat. These are, not coincidentally, the same words a voice from heaven spoke to the apostle Peter, when he saw a four-cornered sheet filled with unclean creatures coming down from heaven, except he was told to arise, kill, and eat.
The voice of God comes from heaven beyond our mental comprehension. This was true for Elijah and of Peter. It is true for us as well. Even though we may not understand how it happens, God’s word sustains us and strengthens us to overcome the obstacles to doing His will in our everyday lives.
Elijah would experience God’s voice not by a vision of a sheet being bound by its four corners like Peter saw, but in conjunction with the four elements of wind, earthquake, fire, and silence. Elijah needed to trust and discern, as Peter did, to follow God’s heavenly will in the middle of his earthly circumstances.
Peter did not know what his vision meant until he heard a heaven-sent knock upon the door of his home. God used the event to guide Peter forward to obey His will and advance the message of Christ’s reign in the earth.
Like Peter and Elijah, we, too, must, in our listening, grow more trusting and obedient, in order to live pleasing to God and advance His Kingdom in the world.
Whether I am giving in to the confirmation bias I warned about earlier, you will have to decide as I explore one more connection. The four elements of Elijah’s experience, the four corners of the sheet coming down from heaven, and the four angels being held back at the river Euphrates in the book of Revelation point to our need for divine intervention.
God gathering His own to Himself in preparation for Christ’s glorious return is a process of refinement to reveal the true servants of God. The refining process teaches us to trust the Lord’s word and not our perceptions. We should live fully engaged doing all that Christ puts in our hearts to do. As Christ has overcome all things, we also can and must overcome everything in life that would bind us, and others, to this earth and its values.
This process, however, does not mean moving to the mountains or living in a cave. It means hearing God’s word and allowing it to define life, its issues, and our role in God’s plan. It means serving God the way Jesus did on earth, being faithful to His word in our unique environments. This is one explanation for why God asked Elijah who he was there on mount Horeb after fleeing from Jezebel. We, like Elijah, are called to fully become who God has called us to be while we are living in the world.
God, through His word granting us discernment, can make the most common things holy for His service. Over 2,000 years ago, He used a young boy’s fish. Today, He may choose one scientific, financial, or social insight to produce the fruit of His Kingdom according to His word.
However the Lord may lead, He will bless us. He can bless our going for a walk, speaking a word of comfort, visiting a prisoner, and acquiring an income-producing asset. We just need to embrace God’s influence in all areas and obey His voice in all things.
Christ will firmly establish the fullness of life in us as we completely open up ourselves to Him. As He teaches us, we grow in faith. As He leads us, we extend His reign.