What you believe to be true about life, about people, and about the heart of God determines whether you’ll live a whole-hearted, free, and abundant life or a life bound by lies, fear, and uncertainty.
Last week I had a deep, meaningful, and challenging conversation with some friends about the things that we assumed to be true about life, people, and God. Some of us were handed these assumptions by well-meaning parents and church leaders, other assumptions we accepted based off of our experiences or what popular culture has embraced. My hope is to expose the lies that we may be living with and replace them with truth so that we can live the whole-hearted, free, and abundant life that we have access to in God’s Kingdom.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
A common assumption about LIFE: “Life is about securing the good life.”
Goodness do I ever believe this! I don’t want to. I know deep in my heart that this life is not about that, but so many of my decisions reveal to me otherwise. The evidence of what we value most in life is in where we spend the best of our energy, time, and resources. Do we spend the best of what we have for building a “good life” or do we spend it in building God’s Kingdom?
We can also see evidence of this in our lives when we feel betrayed by God when things don’t go how we planned. The feeling of betrayal is an easy way to reveal whether you’re worshiping God or the thing you didn’t get. That reveals our idols. Idolatry is something that is difficult for most of our culture to recognize because we may not physically bow down to an image or sculpture. But, people worship all sorts of things even if they aren’t physically bowing down to them. “Worship is whatever we give our hearts to in hope of a return of life.” – John Eldredge. We worship status, money, comfort, appearance, health, family, marriage, careers, travel, vacation, etc. Not one of those things are bad in and of themselves. They become idolatry when we try to use them to fill the space in our hearts that only God can fill and give us the life that only God can give.
Do you see the simple shift? Do we look to anything else to meet the deep desires of our hearts other than God? If God has His rightful place in our heart then all the other things and people in our lives can be enjoyed in their rightful place because they’re blessings from Him. It also takes ALL of the pressure off of anyone and anything to meet our deepest needs that only God can.
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be… No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Matthew 6:19-21, 24.
A great story in scripture that illustrates this is “the rich young ruler”. (Read Mark 10:17-27) Wealth isn’t the problem. This man’s love of his wealth was his problem. Jesus’ questions and answers revealed the rich young ruler’s heart. It’s about lordship. Is your master money, comfort, perfectionism, etc. or is your lord Jesus Christ?
The assumption that “this life is about securing the good life” isn’t true.
It’s damaging because it leads us to worship things other than God himself, but this assumption also causes us to lose our hope of reward.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:3-7
If we put our hope into the things of this world it will destroy our hearts. That’s what idolatry does. This is why the greatest commandment is: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’” Mark 12:30-31 God is a Good Father and loving Creator. He knows how He fashioned us and if we love Him how He designed us to, we will naturally overflow with love for ourselves and for others.
2. A common assumption about PEOPLE: “Maturity means we don’t struggle anymore.”
Just writing this one out made me realize just how silly this belief is, but it’s a belief that’s held highly in many Christian circles. You may be holding this assumption yourself if you find yourself shocked and dismayed at the revelation of someone’s mistake, struggle, or public failure. The truth is we all struggle no matter the level of maturity. Some just struggle publicly and others privately depending on their personalities or the situation.
This assumption is damaging because it sets us up to have unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others. It also has created a culture of shame within the church.
The truth is, Jesus already took care of shame. When we heap it onto others directly or indirectly (by gossiping) we are doing something that God himself isn’t doing. He heaped it all on His perfect son so that we don’t have to carry that burden. He wants us to live a life free of shame. We are clothed in righteousness. When we feel guilt that’s Holy Spirit convicting us of something we’ve done wrong, not shaming us and telling us that we are something wrong. Do you notice the subtle, yet profound difference?!
The apostle Paul, a man that the church holds highly on a pedestal, struggled even after fourteen years of spreading the Good News. He admitted to struggling with stress, self-doubt, and fear. (see Gal 2, Eph. 6).
The culture of shame that exists in many Christian circles sets us up for an inauthentic, plastic culture.
It breeds a lack of authenticity individually and as a community. For fear of shame and judgement, people hide. They hide inside of their families, their immediate group of friends, and maybe worst of all they hide inside of themselves. We put on masks and pretend to be what our unique brand of Christianity deems to be a “Mature Christian”. This is heartbreaking because we are robbing our communities and the world of amazing people. Each beautifully imperfect, but carrying a unique piece of the heart of God that no other person ever has or ever will. When we allow for and encourage others to be more themselves – clothed in the grace and righteousness of Jesus – they actually become more like God.
The good news is I feel a shift coming! A pendulum swing towards authenticity, true authentic community and real relationships. I’ve seen it and experienced it. I want to encourage you that it is possible! Sometimes you have to be the first person to model it if you desire that community in your life.
3. A common assumption about the HEART OF GOD: “Everything that happens is the will of God.”
This assumption has the greatest ability to destroy our relationship with God and trust in His heart. We have all experienced a tragedy either personally or in the life of someone that we dearly love that has caused us to question God’s goodness. We have all witnessed terrible tragedies, both events and ongoing issues, around the world that make us ask, “If God is good, then why did/does ____ happen?” First, it’s a question that He can handle, so if you want to ask Him… go for it. But, it’s a question formulated on the wrong assumption.
The truth is that we live in a broken and fallen world where sin, sickness, and death are still in the equation. People also have free will to choose God and to not choose Him. To choose to love others and to choose not to love others. James 1 explains that God does not cause people to sin. God did not cause any of the terrible things that have been said or done to you by others. However, God can use all things for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
We also have an enemy that comes to “steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) Jesus follows that description of the enemy by saying that his “purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” What a contrast! The unfortunate thing is, if we are being totally honest, how many times do we blame God for stealing something from us, killing someone or something, or destroying lives. It’s no wonder so many people want nothing to do with God if those who claim to know Him are talking and living like their god comes to “steal, kill, and destroy.”
Jesus teaches us to pray:
“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven…” Matthew 6:9-10. Why would Jesus teach us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven unless not everything that happens on earth is God’s will? It’s because it isn’t.
We are instructed that “you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. However, holding to the assumption that “everything that happens is the will of God” for any amount of time will inevitably lead to the fruits: hatred, anger, cynicism, resentment, bitterness, disloyalty, and cruelty.” There’s no way to hold onto the goodness of God with this belief.
If you’re noticing that you’re harboring anger and resentment towards God, I’d love to be the one to tell you it’s okay. (Read the psalms) Bitterness is a disease that can only grow when it’s stuffed and ignored. The best thing you can do is open your heart up enough to admit it to yourself and to God. He is strong and gentle of heart and He can heal those wounds you have and set you free to live an abundant life now.
I remember the moment that I admitted to God that I was angry with Him. I had carried that weight for ten years. I had doubted His goodness and blamed Him for my family’s loss for that long. I felt ashamed of my thoughts towards God so I tried to hide them (hello garden of Eden… I’m not that different from Eve after all). The most amazing, grace-filled thing happened during my first time admitting my anger and bitterness. He took it. All of it. And forgiveness towards God took it’s place in my heart. God didn’t need to be forgiven, He hadn’t done anything wrong. But, I needed to forgive Him because I held Him accountable for my suffering and the suffering of people I love.
Can you see how you can be healed and made whole, dear friend?
Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, set captives free, give sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19
His kingdom isn’t about duties and rules; it’s about healed hearts, whole lives, and people free to be who He created them to be. What you believe to be true about life, about people, and about the heart of God determines whether you’ll live a whole-hearted, free, and abundant life or a life bound by lies, fear, and uncertainty.
If this post inspired and encouraged you, please share it! To sign up for the e-newsletter so you receive links conveniently in your inbox once a week click over to bit.ly/jennasnewsletter
Please leave a comment to let me know which assumption God is setting you free from. Are there any other assumptions that you’ve held or you notice among others that I haven’t listed above? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! I may write a follow up post in the next month about the assumptions that you share with me. As always, feel free to post or email prayer requests! God bless!
If you do not receive a confirmation email that your message was received please contact us directly at Jenna@JennaShriverPhotography.com