Beth continues with her questions on page 2. "Certainly those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior have received the automatic and glorious result of eternal salvation. However, the primary reason God left us on earth after our salvation was for our Christianity to "succeed" right here on this turf. We're getting by but getting by was never our destiny. We were meant to be profoundly effective. Why have we accepted average? Are the few effects most of us see and experience all Christianity has to offer? Is this it? All we can expect? If so, someone out there needs to feel sorry for us." I've felt/known for a loonnnggg time that in order to "succeed" I'd actually have to start living in relationship with God. Being in one requires time given to God as well as trusting and obeying Him, all things I haven't been too hot about in the past. Money and men were on the brain... oh and netflix too.
"For the most part we've dumbed down New Testament Christianity and accepted our reality as theology rather than biblical theology as our reality." (p. 3) It's difficult to disagree with this bold statement when Christians today are known for everything but what we call ourselves. I see people adopting beliefs based on their feelings and overlooking the hard verses of the Bible because people are telling them that humans know better than God. We are ignoring the simple fact that we have to decide whether or not we believe the Bible or not. Don't get me wrong- there are things we will always not have the answers to or interpret differently from others but some subjects are clear and we either trust God's way is better or we look to our knowledge and our experiences as the best way.
Beth moves on from here to look at the definition of what your promised land looks like. "Your Promised Land is the place where God's personalized promises over your life become a living reality rather than a theological theory."(p.4/5) It's like she's speaking what my promised land has been looking like! I enjoy getting to tell people about God and what He's doing in my life and how He's shown Himself to me in the past. But a nagging sensation from my conscience rears it's ugly head every time by reminding me in those moments that I've only experienced God in the "here and there" moments as Beth talks about in the intro. I haven't experienced him as a lifestyle. It's a hard truth to admit, one that bothers me more and more though I have come to realize that God's grace covers even that while He gently and mercifully teaches me through His Spirit and Son how to be a more faithful steward.
Following the definition of thriving in our Promised Land's, Beth gives us some examples.
1. God promised us a place of blessing. "When you and I find our places in Christ where God can freely fulfill His promises to us, we will also experience immeasurable blessing. (emphasis in italics mine. p. 5) How beautiful (finding our places in Christ) My soul longs to find my place in Christ. To start living out of that place. One where my confidence is so deeply rooted in what HE thinks of me I no longer give a hoot about past rejection in my life. A place where I boldly proclaim his name and I am "infected" with his grace love and mercy to such a strong level that I leave evidence of it everywhere I go. Confidence in Christ is a BIG theme the Holy Spirit is putting on my heart- it's like he's dumbing everything down to such an obvious level even I can't ignore it :)
2. God promised us a place we could live. "God didn't promise the children of Israel a place they could visit. He promised them a place they could settle and dwell in blessing.... It's high time we stopped dropping in and started taking up residency." (p.5) Amen! The children of Israel sure got a lot wrong (and they were God's chosen people!) but boy do I sure fit in with them! I'm 99% positive I'd mess up even more if I had been in their shoes. I liken Beth's example of them as a metaphor to our lives. My promised land is a place of rest and thriving but in a spiritual sense not a physical place to reside in as God provided for them. I believe her point is that this mediocre and complacent and lazy faith I and other Christians have is not what our destiny is. Biblically it's proven by Jesus who said," I have come so that you would have life and live it to the full." The place you find yourself in: the one that suggests God is small and incapable is not the land that is promised to you. As Beth says: the enemy is on your land and it's time to get him off!
3. God promised us a place where He brings forth a great harvest. "Your personalized Promised Land is the abiding place where you get to see God keep the promise of a great harvest through your life." The truth is: no ideology, theology, or philosophy compares to knowing Jesus. In the end it does not save you or even matter. Jesus is truth, period. We must come to terms with this for I am convinced it is our own ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, our own theologies that separate us from our Lord.
Lastly, I'd like to list the rest of my favorite quotes but without my own footnotes :) I pray they make you think and that they encourage you as they did me.
"If you can't imagine God ever delivering you from the corruption of evil desires and bringing forth a great harvest through your life, you've bought into the lie that God's promises don't apply to you." (p. 8)
"Our Promised Lands are characterized by the presence of victory, not the absence of opposition." (p. 9)
"Your enemy is standing on your God-given ground daring you to take possession of it. Are you going to let him have it?" (p. 10)