Woven through many of the messages that I heard in Uganda, is an undertone, and often an explicit statement that says, “Come to God and He will make you Great”
or, “Come to Jesus and you will be Big”
Or the most blasphemous statement heard via the television on my last trip, “The wealthier you are the holier you are”
So much wrong with that one. But even the other ones, ‘come to God so as to be great’, are gross misrepresentations of the scriptures.
Nowhere have I ever read in my Bible that God promises to make us Great.
But all of this false doctrine I didn’t know about on my first trip to Uganda. I wasn’t aware of the undertone of lusted-after-grandeur and of God being the big fix-it-all-button. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit led me to preach this sermon, to share this message:
It is good to gather today. And we do so in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We come together not as people who have nothing in common. For regardless of the circumstances of our lives being different, the experiences of our lives, the trouble that comes our way as human beings, is much the same all over the globe.
And the manner by which God meets us in our difficulty is the also the same. No matter where we live, no matter what color our skin and no matter our socioeconomic status or the culture in which we find ourselves, at our emotional core we all need God the same way.
You may think that Canada has no trouble. But there is trouble all over the globe. Let me share with you a bit of my own story.
You see, I have known what it is to go without food, for at one time I was starving myself so my children could eat. I’ve known what it is to not be able to clothe my kids, I’ve known what it is to rely on the donations of others in order to clothe my children.
I’ve known what it is to be verbally and psychologically abused. I’ve known a bad marriage and of being mocked by the one who swore to love me.
And I’ve known what it is to be sexually abused; for twice as a child I was raped.
And in and through all of that I have come to know a God who is greater than these things, and that walks with us through all of life’s experiences, the good the bad and the ugly.
God does not promise to fix our lives, but he does promise to walk alongside as we go through life. His presence makes all the difference, and God in the gift of Jesus Christ, has gone to extremes to ensure that we can walk together.
We think that God owes us something. But fact of the matter is, God owes us nothing, and we on the other hand, owe him our very lives.
The summer that I was working through the rape memories, the Spirit asked me this,
“In light of everything that has gone bad. In spite of everything that is horribly wrong, will you love me, will you trust me, and will you know me to be good?”
I had accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of six, but that acceptance was in the light of a rosy all-is-right with the world perspective. Christ is easy to accept in the fairytale of our lives.
This time, some 35 years later, Christ was asking me again. “Will you love me, will you trust me, and will you know me to be good?”
It was a hard place. Could I? Would I?
How much do we love God? Do we love him, do we trust him, and will we know him to be good?
My faith up till that point in time had been fairly shallow (now in retrospect). You see a gospel that says come to God and your life will be fixed is shallow at best, blasphemous at worst.
Will our lives steadily increase as we walk with God? Yes!
Do our lives become increasingly free as we give our lives over to Christ? Yes!
But nowhere are we promised that our lives will be fixed.
And so, if God does not fix your life, if nothing changes, and in light of all that is bad, will you love him, will you trust him, and will you know him to be good?
For you see, our decision to give over our lives to the living God, comes before anything gets better. It comes before we see resolutions and before there is relief. We must ask ourselves, how much do we love God today?
And what things have you been holding out as a prerequisite to your full involvement with him? What deals have you been trying to make? What assurances are you demanding?
God owes us nothing, we on the other hand, owe God our very lives.
Speaking this message that first trip, I never knew how revolutionary a message it would be in light of the Uganda culture, never realized that it is a message in direct opposition to the ‘Come to God and he will make you great or big or wealthy or healthy or… ”
But I am pretty sure it is not revolutionary just in Uganda, but in Canada as well.
These revolutionary messages of the heart of God are exactly the work we as Capturing Courage International are called to preach. It is the core of the Biblical Training that we are taking, the core of the Leadership Development and Emotional and Spiritual Freedoms.
What do we believe about God?
What does God say about God?
And what might we bring to God today?