Thursday, February 28, 2008

assimilation

I like the thought of Eugene Peterson in his book, Eat This Book, that we're not just to be reading the Bible, but eating it, eating the Book. It needs to get into our hearts and the fabric of our lives.

I distrust formulaic Christianity that says, "Do this, and then this will happen." It has truth to it, but the Bible is not a self-help book for us to go to and use for our benefit on our terms. It comes to us as the word of God, yes- for our true good, but on God's terms, as Peterson reminds us.

The Bible, God's word, is meant to change us in Jesus. And this takes time. There are those special times of breakthrough in our lives, contributing to this growth, but most of the growth is not recognizable to us until days and even years after the fact.

But we're actually commanded to grow, as well as expected to grow. To do so, we must abide in the Lord and have his words abide in us (John 15). And we must be eating the Book. Letting the Story of God found there move us so that we become part of God's ongoing Story in Jesus.

Whatever state we find ourselves in, let's not give up and lose heart. Though if we have lost heart, let's come to God as we are that way, as well. Our struggles or disillusionment can help us realize our need for growth. And growth inherently takes time.

We need to see God's truth in Jesus assimilated into our hearts and lives, changing us, changing who we are. Not that such change ever ends in this life, because it doesn't. We need to be growing more and more into the image of Jesus, both in our lives, and together with all others in Jesus. This needs to be our goal.

How have you found this to be true in your own life? Or any other thoughts.

14 comments:

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

only that i'm pretty far away and that most of the growth comes when I'm weariest of trying to be good or do good on my own and just lay striving down

L.L. Barkat said...

And some only eat their carrots, not their peas, drink their juice and not their water. Which doesn't work so well either.

NaNcY said...

as i was reading this thought came to me...and i am not sure why.

when i was in labor with my first child, there was, of course, the labor pains. i was suppose to push through the labor pains and rest between them. the closer the labor pains got together the less i rested. when it got close to the birth i had to almost continually push because if i stopped pushing the baby would move back instead of out. so continual pushing was needed at this time, except for taking in breath.

Rachel Mc said...

I have found this post to be so true in my life and something that I have learned recently "God isn't in the self-help business" Why do people think that? I don't know where I came up with that idea, but I hav learned to change my thinking, believing and acting because I know I need to. Nancy's analogy to labor pains/birth and this issue is right on. I think I will start using that example to other ladies I talk too!

preacherman said...

Great discussion.
Excellent post!

NaNcY said...

also...i remember that at first i was to relax through the pains to allow the muscles to do what they needed to do. there was no pushing with the pain until it was time to do so. as the labor progressed there came the time to push with the pain to accomplish the task. first push with some rest and then mainly pushing.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan,
Thanks. I think God has to work according to each of us. For some that will mean realizing that they're trying to do it on their own. Haven't we all been there sometimes? Scripture seems to have a balance between what God works in us and what we work out in our lives from that (Php 2:12-13). It's all grace in our lives, but a grace that won't let us be satisfied with anything less than it. And it is active.

I too think I'm far away, yet I see growth in a good number of ways, and often through the hard places. But often in spite of me, rather than because of me, I'm afraid- at least to some extent. Seems like I both go against God's grace and move from God's grace, at least something like a back and forth thing going on in that for me, quite often.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L.,
Great point. Yes, we don't pick and choose. We need everything God puts in front of us, all his word, whether we like it all or not. If we eat it, not only will we grow, but will start liking it better.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
Quite interesting. I've witnessed a birth only once, but wasn't in the room, but outside observing in training. Of course many of you women know it firsthand.

I think the analogy can be good for our growth in the Lord. There are times when we're really moved to act and other times when we're moved to wait on the Lord. And pain through it, but letting God's fruit (in your example: the fruit of the womb) come out of it.

Certainly some things we experience at least greatly impact us at the time. Some special times in my life I well remember, as kind of landmarks of God's working and changing me. Even before my conversion.

Thanks.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Rachel,
Thanks. Yes, change of thinking is a part of life, of being transformed by the renewing of our minds, rather than being conformed to this world (Romans 12:2).

Self-help and God's help seem mutually exclusive to me. We're never meant to do anything apart from faith in God.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks again, Kinney!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan,
I meant in "move from God's grace"- moving in response to it- a response of faith. It was meant in a good way though I'm sure the other applies to me at times, as well.

Kim said...

Hi Ted, It made me think about John 5:17 where Jesus says, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." When we "work" we "grow"

I'm wondering about Jesus being assimliated into our hearts vs. us being assimilated into Him.

Ted M. Gossard said...

"I'm wondering about Jesus being assimliated into our hearts vs. us being assimilated into Him."

Kim, Thanks. Good thought on work and growth.

When I use the word assimilated I'm referring to the revelation of the truth of God from Scripture, and found in Jesus. The Corinthians believers or church was said to "have the mind of Christ," and all believers have Christ in them by the Spirit, of course. So I wouldn't use the word assimilated to refer to Jesus himself or union of any kind. God through faith takes us into that union, and then we begin to assimilate from him all that is involved and the truth of the union. I don't think it's accurate to say we assimilate more of God. But that we know in our experience more and more of this mutual indwelling is most certainly true, I think.

I am reminded of the Ephesians passage that says, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you- being rooted and established in love...."(Eph 3) Dwell there, as I recall, is a strong word in the Greek, and could mean something like, paraphrased, "be at home in your hearts." So that's a case of not assimilating more of Christ, but of God in Christ being more welcomed into our hearts and lives.

It is something that we somehow are taken up into the mutual indwelling of the Trinity, even as human beings.