Romans 14:16,17 “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

By God’s design, Judaism in the Bible was smallness that focused on retaining smallness. Israel was a small nation—so small that all the men of the nation were commanded to assemble in a designated place three times yearly to worship God (Deuteronomy 16:16).

In contrast, Christianity, by God’s design, is enormous (Matthew 13:31-43). It is worldwide in existence, outreach, and influence.

Often God’s people victimize themselves through their expectations. First century Israel struggled to grasp that God loved and cared about all mankind. Their expectations declared God loved only people who did things the way Israel did them. Sometimes we struggle with the same understanding. It is easy to think God is happy if “He just has us.”

Opening our minds to the fullness of God’s purposes is easily intended, but challenging to do. It is too easy to dismiss a concern from God by saying, “That is not what God wants!” or “God is not like that!” or “God is not interested in those things!” Too often it is we who do not want that, or do not like that, or have no interest in that. Most of us cannot image God not having the same concerns and focus “I have.”

The prophet Isaiah said of God (Isaiah 55:8, 9) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Paul told Athens’ elite they should not think of God in terms of a piece of physical art work produced by humans (Acts 17:29). Paul also reminded Christians that God did the unimaginable: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

The challenge an open mind presents to the Christian is not the challenge to believe anything declared by people, but to believe everything declared by God. It is not to be easily deceived by human reasoning, but to be open to God’s word. It is not to be lead by the desires of people, but to be open to the heart of God. It is not to seek the praise of people, but to never stop seeking God’s purposes in Jesus Christ.

It is the willingness to let God lead us as we grow in understanding. It is the willingness to refuse to attempt to manipulate God. It is the willingness to repent and redirect life any time such repentance and redirection is needed. It is the willingness to refuse to shackle God’s work by our expectations. It is the willingness to free Jesus Christ from our expectations. It is the willingness to listen as the word speaks to us rather than dictating to the word its meaning. Quite a challenge, isn’t it?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 2 June 2005

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