There is something to be said about Obedience. The reference here is to the obedience of following what God whispers in our ear, what He places in our spirit—if we are open to listening to the still voice of a God Who does not need to shout. When you have the power and authority to give, to provide, to create, forcing yourself on anyone is unnecessary; in fact, a wise person would be standing in the midst, prepared to receive whatever it is you have to offer.
Just like a natural father, God desires to bless His children. However, our need to act fully on our own accord, with little or no spiritual input, keeps us in our own way.
Increased privileges are a demonstration of a new level of confidence parents have in their children. Parents give children cell phones, keys to the house, and permission to drive cars, when they believe their offspring are mature enough to handle the responsibilities.
The same principle applies to our relationship to the Ultimate Provider. We make think we “are grown,” but God knows His children best. Some blessings must be held back until we are spiritually mature enough, and thus prepared, to receive them. This is not a reference to food and water, or even health, rather to blessings, such as being able to have a home of your own, being able to drive rather than take the bus, being able to leave a job, or have your own business (if that’s what you want).
So, how do we prepare for a new level of blessings, privileges in our lives?
Because each person is a unique creation, our preparation will be just as distinct. However, there are some general ways that would apply to every person in terms of preparing to receive God’s best for our lives.
- We have to communicate with God through prayer. We can speak to God using the words that we normally would use for someone for whom we have great respect. The Lord’s Prayer (Mathew 6:9-13) is a good starting point while developing what will become your unique way of praying.
- Learning about God comes through studying and reading the Bible, no matter how we feel about its contents and the ways it was used to oppress and victimize people around the world. (Medicine was also used inappropriately, but we still take it when we are ill or in pain.) Most people learned what pleased or displeased our parents through observation and listening from childhood to adulthood and beyond. Observing and listening to those who are mature in their Christian experience is extremely helpful because these people are full of wisdom and insight; however, they are likely to be found as members of a house of worship, which leads to the next point.
- Worship, individually and corporately, is crucial. Thanking God through our words and actions simply shows appreciation for the life we have been given. Worship can be done individually—24-7—with a hand raised in the air, with the singing of a song of praise, and especially by walking in obedience to what God asks us to do in terms of His commandments. Corporate worship entails being part of a church body, where people whose objective is to live a life pleasing to God. This church body should be led by a knowledgeable man/woman who walks responsibly as a Christian and effectively leads and teaches his/her congregation in applying God’s word in today’s world.
The media has done a good job deceiving people into thinking that organized religion is a negative thing. A pastor who commits a heinous act becomes the excuse to excuse one’s self from a house of worship. Just like there are bad apples in all organizations, religious institutions are no different. How many colleges have had scandals of rape, fund swindling and even deadly shooting, but no one says, “That’s why I stopped going to get my education.” The same effort one puts forth into exploring business opportunities, buying a home and/or attending a university before making a move, should be expended in finding a house of worship where the leader and his or her congregation fit your religious/spiritual needs.
A Pew Research Center study* shows that Americans with higher education levels pray less regularly and consider religion to be less important in their lives, with 11% describing themselves as atheist or agnostic. For Christians, however, higher education levels show more religious observance, such as prayer and attendance in a house of worship, as well as agreement that religion is very important in their lives.
No matter what pride, earthly knowledge or the media brings, God is and always will be mankind’s life source. Maintaining this connection is in our best interest. To negate it or to deny its significance out of ignorance, pride, etc., is like cutting off our nose to spite our face, walking around in a world filled with beauty we can see but not fully experience.