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Friday, April 28, 2017

Right vs Real

A longtime friend of mine has always drawn a distinction between "right" and "real". Ask a Christian a plainly-known question like "Are we saved by faith or by works?" and they'll likely answer the "right" way -- "By faith." But examine how some of them live and you'd think the "real" answer might be "by works" given their mania for works and their guilt and fear when they fail. Well, you get the idea. We often answer with the "right" words, but sometimes they aren't what we really think.

One of these is often found in our prayers. Most of us spiritually-minded believers would echo Christ's prayer in the garden, "Not my will, but Thine be done" (because, as everyone knows, Jesus prayed in King James English). You know what I mean. We say we only want God's will. The ugly secret is that it just isn't true. What we want is for God's will to align with ours and then we'd be happy.

How do I know? Well, it's pretty obvious. Look at the reaction when something unpleasant happens. We will cry out and complain and question the "fairness" of God. Our faith will be tested because "bad things aren't supposed to happen to good people." I'm not talking about the questioning response: "Why, God?" That's not an assault on the character of God. It is a question because we lack the information. Nor am I talking about the understandable, normal, expected grief and pain these events cause. I'm talking about conclusions we often draw contrary to God's goodness and love. Because "a loving, good God wouldn't do that -- wouldn't allow that. And He did. So ...?"

If my prayer was "yet not my will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42), we could ask why and we could grieve and hurt without being angry with God. Why? Because we could rest assured that what God did (or allowed) was His will and, therefore, both good and loving (Rom 8:28). It is that flush of negative emotion and angry response that tells us that, while the right prayer is "Not my will, but Yours", the real prayer is "Do what I want." And when voice is given to that prayer, it becomes quite ugly.

I suspect all of us suffer from this slip up of "right answer" versus "real answer" sometimes. I suspect we ought to guard our hearts for this and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5). Not my will, but Yours, Lord ... the right answer that ought to be the real one, too.


Grey Fisher said...

This is good one, somewhat convicting, but real. Thanks for your honesty, and God for His all knowing wisdom.

Stan said...

The "right" answer is the head one. The "real" answer is the heart one. Someone once said, "It's a long way from head to heart." I realized I suffer from this "Not Thy will but Mine be done" problem myself and thought I'd share the conviction.