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God in my pocket

To make way for a new birth of authentic being, we are not only willing, but even eager to give up present habits and imperfections and prejudices. No matter how far we have moved in the Christian life, we can still know that every opinion we hold and every act we perform is something less than the best. We never have the Holy Spirit in our pockets, completely domesticated and supporting everything we are doing. Any such sanctifying of personal imperfections is an obstacle to further growth. Instead of clutching fiercely to my foibles and fallacies, I had better cultivate the ability to change my mind, my political opinions, and my lifestyle when it becomes clear that this is the will of God.

—From Liberation of Life by Harvey and Lois Seifert

One of my top 10 favorite movies is, “Kingdom of Heaven,” (2005). Yet, there are moments in the film that can set you on edge. The setting is ancient Jerusalem during the Crusades. One scene is particularly chilling: outnumbered (and a long way from home), a Euro-Christian army is rousing itself to pick a fight with superior Muslim forces for control of Jerusalem. The cry from “church” authority to validate this unnecessary war is painfully telling: GOD WILLS IT! In response, the army shouted, “GOD WILLS IT!” In truth, it was man who willed it, though God was given both credit and blame, and the “Christian” army was completely annihilated. The assuming arrogance of shouting the words, “GOD WILLS IT,” evoked an unforeseen justice. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind. She doesn’t make biased choices (nor should she). Shouting, “GOD WILLS IT,” isn’t a magical potion ensuring your “win.”

If only this movie were just a grand fictional tale.

This cry to battle happens all of the time: “GOD WILLS IT!”

Are we certain about that?

The Seiferts remind us that we have a duty to follow the lead of our Source of life. We can get sucked into the muck if man’s systems provide our only beacons of direction. I realize we’re easily persuaded by the passions and emotions of societal addictions to power and nationalism, but I don’t ever remember reading in scripture that God belongs to a certain faith affiliation, a particular political party, or any specific nationality, race, color, or creed. Yet, we consistently think, “Our side” is owed favor, protection, and unwavering fealty, while everything NOT on our side can go straight to hell! What is this? Do we think, “We have the Holy Spirit in our pockets?” Are we certain that our certainties are certain? 

I like this offering from the Seiferts because they suggest that the maturation process of following Christ should be, “cultivating and developing” our willingness to change. I realize we hate change.  But we stop growing the moment we no longer allow ourselves to be vulnerable to change. Judgment and polarizing opinion do not change anything. 

The thing is — with time, patience, and unbiased eyes — it might actually be possible to discern the will of God. But we should not just assume the “crowd” (apply your favorite power label here) has cornered the market on truth, righteousness, and what’s right for the good of everyone else. Yes, you have a strong opinion.  But what is Jesus saying? What is the Spirit doing? Are you too certain that you understand the will of God? —MDP

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