Man has been operating on a lie from Satan that we can be more fulfilled by being independent of God. So we are trying to make life work without God. We want to be in control and we don’t want anyone to control us, not even God. But the more independent we want to be, the more we are moving away from God’s design and destroying ourselves. To the extent the basic needs of people are not met by God, they will experience emptiness, frustration, anxiety, fear, anger, shame and pain. When God is not at the center of our lives, and we are not experiencing His love, we get into self-preservation, self protection and self-defence. We become selfish, egotistic, proud and defensive, stubborn, dissatisfied, fearful, and we crave for the love, acceptance, approval and esteem of others. The only solution to man’s problem is to know God’s love. Then we will be delivered from the grip of self.
This is a continuation from Kingdom 40. In Jer.2:13, God told Jeremiah, “My people have committed two sins : They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Instead of looking to God and going to Him to fill their deepest needs, people are trying by self-effort to make their lives work. All their energies are channelled to preserve and protect themselves and serve their own interests. This really is the whole problem of man. Self-centeredness, self-sufficiency, self-determination, self-justification, self-righteousness, self-effort, and self-love.
Watchman Nee, another one of my favourite authors said that the most basic question in the universe is, “Who’s in charge?” The question of control is not only the central issue in every situation in this world, it is also the central issue in every person. Satan’s lie to Adam was that he could be a more fulfilled person by being independent of God. Ever since then, everyone has operated on the same belief. Satan told Adam, “You can be like God; you can be in control.” Man became his own god and that sin nature has passed down to all of us. So people are kings of their own kingdoms. And we guard our kingdoms jealously don’t we? We fear losing control of our lives. We don’t want anyone to control our lives; not even God.
What we don’t realise is, we were never meant to function like this. God told Adam that if he became independent, he would die. The more we want to be independent, the more we are getting away from God’s design and destroying ourselves.
What happens when we don’t realize that God is the one and only one who can meet our most basic needs? What happens when we look for something else to satisfy us but nothing we find actually satisfies us? Well to the extent that these needs are not met, people will experience emptiness, frustration, anxiety, fear, anger, shame and pain. Let’s examine 3 things : anger, anxiety and shame. Why do people get angry? They get angry when they have set some goal that they want to achieve, but they feel their goal is blocked by someone or something, right? Why do people feel anxious? They feel anxious when they feel their goal is unachievable. Why do people feel ashamed? They feel ashamed when they feel they are incapable of achieving their goal. So to avoid or overcome these feelings, people try to dominate or intimidate or manipulate others, or they just withdraw and hide in their emotional cave and wallow in self-pity.
But all that is really unnecessary. Why set yourself that goal or target in the first place? And then as we say in Malaysia “mati-mati” or as the Singaporeans say “die-die also” must achieve it? Yes we are to be people of vision and purpose, but not to be vision-oriented or purpose driven, independently of God. Instead of trying to deal with it just on a horizontal level as it were, why not address the root of the problem, which is not so much an external but an internal problem in our own heart and mind? Why not go to God and let Him determine every goal for our lives, and get the grace or the resources from Him to meet the goals that He sets, and in His time, and get His approval. Then it doesn’t matter what people think of us. Nor even what we think of ourselves. All that matters is what God thinks of us. No need to even try and prove ourselves to ourselves .. to create our own identity .. to prove to ourselves who we are. Then no anger, or anxiety, or shame. Simple.
Of course not many people are that driven to try and prove themselves to themselves, although I see this is increasingly the case with so much influence of modern media. But the more common problem is still how people feel about how others regard them. Very often when people try to be somebody, it is because they are actually feeling very small inside. So to try and overcome their feelings of inferiority, they will say things or do things to try to gain love and acceptance. There are several examples of this in the Bible. Saul, for instance, is a good example of someone who was insecure – someone who felt small inside – someone who did not know God’s love. When it was time for him to be made king, out of feelings of inferiority, what did he do? He hid himself among the baggage. On another occasion when Samuel was late in arriving for the sacrifice, he went ahead and did it himself. Why? When Samuel came, he told Samuel he was afraid of the people. He craved for acceptance.
Contrast between Saul and David. David knew God’s love. In the psalms we see how David knew how to go to God to have his deepest needs met. And when people loved David, Saul was jealous of David and threw spears at him. It still happens today. People in authority who are insecure, they persecute those under their authority who they see are more popular with people.
What happens when God is not at the center of our lives, and when we are not experiencing His love? Then we take center place and we get into self-preservation, self protection and self-defence. We become selfish – we think about our needs and our wants and seldom consider those of others. We become egotistic – we always think we are right and seldom consider that we may be wrong and others right. We become proud and defensive – we don’t like being corrected. We become stubborn – we resist change. We are dissatisfied – we are continually looking for, we know not what, to fill the void in our lives. We are fearful – we fear not having enough, we fear losing what we have, we fear being misunderstood, rejected, forgotten. We fear losing control, we fear the future. And we crave for the love, acceptance, approval and esteem of others.
So what is the solution to man’s problem? There is no other way, we need to get back to God, the eternal source of our lives. Without Him, we are incomplete. Friends, we really need to know His love, and to know from Him who He created us to be, and to go to Him for purpose and direction. Nothing else will satisfy our hearts. Actually more basic than the question of identity and purpose and direction is love. It is when we know His love that we will be delivered from the grip of self.
Let me share with you a prayer that I got from George Verwer’s book, ‘Hunger for Reality’. It is written by a Roman Catholic :
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.
Deliver me Jesus,
from the desire of being loved,
from the desire of being extolled,
from the desire of being esteemed,
from the desire of being honored,
from the desire of being praised,
from the desire of being preferred to others,
from the desire of being consulted,
from the desire of being approved,
from the fear of being humiliated,
from the fear of being despised,
from the fear of being rebuked,
from the fear of being forgotten,
from the fear of being ridiculed,
from the fear of being wronged,
from the fear of being misunderstood, (that was a big issue in my life – the fear of being misunderstood)
from the fear of being suspected,
And Jesus, give me the grace to desire
that others might be loved more than I,
that others may be esteemed more than I,
that in the opinion of the world others may
increase and I may decrease,
that others may be chosen and I set aside,
that others may be praised and I unnoticed,
that others may be preferred to me in everything,
that others may become holier than I, provided
that I become as holy as I should
What a powerful prayer. I’ll continue in Kingdom 42.
These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it.