Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who is your country?

     No, that's not a misprint.  Who is your country? It's the question I asked myself after reading the introduction to I & II Samuel in The Message. Eugene Peterson is talking about four characters that dominate the two books...Hannah, Samuel, Saul, and David.  Peterson says, "Not one of them can be accounted for in terms of cultural conditions or psychological dynamics; God is the country in which they live."
     Okay, so that got me thinking, "Do I let my culture determine how I live.  Do I let what others think about me, my beliefs and my morals determine how I live?"  I think about how Romans 12:1-2 challenges me not to conform to the way the world thinks and acts. I am very blessed to have been born in the physical country in which I reside.  I've seen the conditions and heard stories from the people of those countries about the persecution they suffered because of their beliefs. In spite of our location on the Earth, I believe that God can be the country in which we live.  I want God to be the country in which I live. 
     Being a teacher, I think of what defines a country's boarders and gives it its identity.  Things like mountains, rivers, plains, deserts...natural things that may physically mark a boarder...surround a country to define where it ends/begins or give the country it's physical features. Other things define a country. Currency, economy, culture, and government come to mind. 
     Being a Christian, I see how the things that define a country are the some of the very things that define God.  God did come in the physical...Jesus.  He lived, taught how to live in God's kingdom, died, was resurrected and lives.  When I think of currency and economy, I think about God's currency and exchange rate being love, grace and mercy and how He gives it freely.  In God's economy, giving is the priority.  Does that mean God wants us to be poor? No, He wants us to take our gifts and talents, whatever they may be, and use them for His glory. God's culture is described in detail in His book, the Bible.  The descriptions tell stories of real people in real situations who make good and bad choices.  The descriptions tell about a God who is personally involved in the lives of people. God's culture is not materialistic, greedy, about success or power or being in style.  What is it about?  See Romans 12:1-2.
     Okay, I'm done.  I do want to close with one more quote from Peterson's intro to I & II Samuel.  "God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves" (The Message-the Kindle Edition, 2002).  That actually reminds me of the study "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby.  What I really remember from that study is that instead of trying to come up with some really great program or "thing" to do for God, see where God is working and join Him. A post for another day!

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