A God Who is Both Immanent AND Personal
About 15 years ago I read Dr. Francis Schaeffer's book, The God Who Is There. That particular book was very instrumental in helping me understand some of the basic differences in presuppositions that underlie the various religions of the world. Eastern religions teach a god who is transcendant above creation, but not immanent or personal. Western religions, like the Greco-Roman and Germanic mythologies teach of gods who are personally involved in creation, but who are not transcendant above it. It is only in Christianity that you find a God who is both above His creation, and yet personally involved with it.
Sometimes as a Christian, it is easy for me to forget the personal nature of God. I don't mean that I am actively denying this aspect of the triune God, but that it is natural for me to think of Him as being remote and distant. And then, somehow He crashes through this false construct and reminds me that He is personal, and close, and right in there with me.
Remember my mind maps? I had identified four areas that needed work and sanctification and I have been busy the last few days filling in details on each of them. I have a page for each area of work. Today's sermon not only touched on the main points that needed work, but even went so far as to deal with the minutae of what I had written! One of the things that I was finding in doing this work, is that self examination can lead to despair. I mean when you start listing out all the things that are wrong with you that you are aware of, and if you are being honest about it, the list can get rather long. And we aren't even talking about the sins I am unaware of. Imagine my wonder when one of the main points of the sermon made a distinction between a despair that leads to death and one that leads to Christ! Imagine my amazement when a number of the things I have been struggling with were actually touched on specifically in the sermon.
Does God speak through our ministers? He surely does, which is why men should approach these offices with fear and trembling lest they speak amiss. Does God speak with us directly, cleaving through all our pretenses and forcing us into the light? He surely does.
I am going to tape a page to the side of each mind map and here is what will be on it: for every area and specific sin/problem that has been covered, I am going to make an accompanying mind map with the antidote as found in Scripture. These are the things that will enable me to conquer in Christ. These are the things that my despair over my sinful nature have driven me to. In Christ is my peace.