Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

Einstein's definition of insanity is one that is worth pondering for our lives and walk with God.

Many of us are caught in a rut and many are crying out for breakthroughs in their lives but when things do not turn out as we wished them to be, we never seem to reflect and find the answers as to what could actually go wrong. And we continued in our circles (or cycles) of defeat, discouragement and depression.

Guyon described repentance as the highest form of worship and it would be worthwhile for us to let this precious truth sink deep into our spirits. There is an erroneous doctrine taught in churches today that there is no need for Christians to repent anymore. This is a lie that originates from the pit of hell! In fact, I heard that there are preachers who taught that the Holy Spirit's work of convicting souls only happens once, i.e. during conversion. After that, the Holy Spirit does not convict Christians anymore. How far is this from the truth!! Sadly, the Scriptures speaks of deception creeping into the household of God during the last days and we are beginning to witness this taking place.

Given the choice, every healthy soul would choose to listen to things that are sweet, nice and happy. However, as born-again Christians, we should be aware of the fine distinction of receiving positive input that builds up the spirit within us as opposed to listening to stuffs that only appeal to the flesh within us. For example, we (our flesh) take pleasure in the praises and admiration of men but we cringe at criticisms hurled against us. We would revel in teachings that pamper the flesh but reject teachings that promote the annihilation of the flesh. This is also very true in our journey with God.

Oftentimes, we will be praying and asking God for a thousand and one things. But, how often are we ever ready to expect and receive a "No" answer from Him? Perhaps, we would be labelled as "lacking in faith" if we actually harbour such an attitude. Therefore, today Christ seems to be a spiritual "Santa Claus" to many today. He is supposed to give us anything and everything we ask. We are never ready to receive a "No" from Him. Unknowingly, we shut our ears to His "No" and missed His leading and guidance along the way.

I believe a sign of maturity in walking with God is learning to receive a "No" answer from the Lord. In fact, it is healthy to expect a "No" from the Lord sometimes. The beautiful account of David pleading for the life of his child after he was confronted of his sin shows us that David is one who knew His God. He knew that God, being who He is, the Just and Righteous One - can deliver a "No" answer. The moment his child died, he rose up and went about life as usual. What a precious lesson to learn from David! And when we do not learn such a lesson we end up in the circle of insanity (as defined by Einstein). The way to end this cycle is to begin to know Him as He is. When we know Him as who He really is (and not the God we imagined Him to be or the God we wanted Him to be or the God we are taught to be), we will learn to honor and fear Him. We will learn to treasure even the "No" responses from Him and give Him the worship that is due to Him.

In our walk with God, there will be times when we are halted in our tracks by God Himself. This is because, in answer to our prayers (which we have probably forgotten) and in His loving mercies, He desires to reveal to us His path as opposed to our own paths. That is why repentance is our life-long act of worship. We always need the Spirit of God to halt us along our paths and to lead us and direct us back to His narrow path.

Far too often, the Christianity of today have lowered the value and preciousness of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Undoubtedly, the nature of our Loving God is ever to receive us and forgive us. 1 John 1:9 clearly indicates that as we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our iniquities. However, what is the value of repentance and confession of sins when we trample such practice to just mere acts of freeing ourselves from a guilty conscience. We do not have the notion of grieving God when we sin but rather, oh well, God promises to forgive. So, I'll confess my sins and He'll forgive and I'll be fine. And we keep falling into the same sin time and again. What is repentance but a complete turning around of our path and our minds. How can we so easily cheapen the grace of repentance and confession of sins? The love of God and His grace and salvation is free but they are expensive. Pharoah and King Saul also parroted a shallow "I have sinned.." but their destinies were so different from David. Do not mis-read me, I strongly believe that it is even the grace of God that will birth true repentance in our hearts. Our works are only filthy rags before Him. But, the question is how much do we open our hearts for Him to work? Do we just repent out of a guilty conscience? Do we just repent for men to see? Do we live to please God or please men? The paths leading to the doors of repentance and forgiveness of sin were drenched with the blood of Christ. To walk in repentance and to receive forgiveness without passing through Golgotha is to cheapen the death and resurrection of Christ.

As we progress in our Christian walk and as the Lord leads us into a new level of walk with Him, there will be numerous "altars of repentance" which we will encounter along the way. I drive to work and I use the same route every day to reach my office. It would be foolish of me to expect reaching another destination if I use the same route that I have been using everyday. If I intend to reach another destination, common sense would tell me I should take a different route. (Well, this is paraphrasing Einstein) Hence, if we would like to soar with Him and be all that He wants us to be and walk in deeper intimacy with Him, we cannot be doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. It's time to open our hearts to the prompting of His Spirit to show us where we have gone wrong. It's time to treasure the grace of repentance. It's time to turn around and walk towards Him. Is there a "No" He's trying to communicate to us? Is the Spirit of God pointing His finger on certain areas of our lives where true repentance is expected? This is the antidote to spiritual insanity.
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