Jesus Did It!
'HAVE TO' CHRISTIANITY OR 'GET TO' CHRISTIANITY: WHICH IS BEST?
By: Norm Rasmussen
Perception is a BIG deal. In fact, perception is a HUGE deal. How a person perceives things will GREATLY influence the way a person thinks, and how a person thinks greatly influences their decisions and actions. A person's actions can then greatly determine the quality of a person's life.
Most likely you've heard the comparison: One person sees the glass of water half empty. Another person sees the glass of water half full? Which is right? (Most people threatened with dying of thirst in the desert would answer: 'It makes no difference! Just hand me the glass!')
Professionals tell us that those who see a glass of water half empty tend to be pessimists. People who see a glass of water half full tend to be optimists. Most everyone would rather be around an optimist than a pessimist, because pessimism tends to trigger apathy, hopelessness, frustration, depression and fear much quicker than optimism. Optimism tends to trigger renewed faith and hope, and spurs people to more quickly put the mistakes of the past behind them, and start making new plans to have invigorated purpose to live for.
One person fails at a business three times, and gives up completely after that. Another person fails at business three times, and keeps reminding themselves that they are learning valuable lessons to not make the same mistakes they made in the past and the fourth (or fifth, if necessary) time they start a new business they are now hopefully going to succeed. The difference between failure and success is greatly determined by our perspective of matters. Failure to one means failure period. Failure to another means that past mistakes are nuggets in disguise to teach a person how to do things more correctly (fruitfully) in the future. It's all in how you view the glass of half-empty or half-full "mistakes" and act accordingly.
So what does perspective have to do with God and spirituality -- joyful spirituality? A great deal!
Have you thought much about it -- walking in relationship with God because you're 'supposed to' - 'have to' - 'want to' - 'get to'?
Before delving into these different perceptions of relating to God ' If you're not sure what to make of Christianity, may I take the opportunity to say that there is a huge difference between trying to please God because you 'have to' verses trying to please God because you 'get to'. And until a person is able to distinguish between 'have to' Christianity and 'get to' Christianity ' they will do well to gain a clearer understanding of 'WANT to' Christianity. And I might also add: The sooner a person can move from 'have to' relationship with God to 'get to' relationship with God ' the more they will 'WANT to' please God in every way they can.
Living in a world (perspective) of 'have to' relationship with God will spiritually imprison you in various degrees. Living in a world (perspective) of 'get to' relationship with God will free you, and cause you to love and appreciate God unlike anything else can. 'Get to' relationship with God will keep you energized to stay connected to the Creator like nothing else, and energize you to please Him like nothing else will, especially when major trials come your way.
For example: Once a person is able to become fully convinced that prayer is not something a Christian is 'supposed' to do, but 'gets' to do ' WOW will it ever change your relationship with God! How does a person get to such a place? By diligently and patiently seeking God to help them change their perspective on the matter.
Attitude shapes our perspective. Perspective shapes our attitude. They feed off each other. Our attitude toward God shapes our perspective of God. Our perspective of God shapes our attitude toward God.
Maybe for some to gain a better insight into attitude and perspective, let's briefly examine parenting, because successful parenting requires parents balancing out 'have to' and 'want to' issues with their children so that when their children grow older, rebellion in them will be at a minimum. Wise, caring parents realize that odds increase greatly that rebellious children become rebellious teenagers who then become prone to become rebellious adults, and what caring parent wants to raise a rebellious adult?
Caring parents need to set boundaries (parameters) in a child's life early on. God has made children to want to know clearly what they can and cannot do under parental authority. Of course they'll test their parents on the 'cannot do's', but with wise, firm yet loving discipline from the parents, the child will eventually realize that a warm smile and a loving hug with privileges extended is much better to get from Daddy and Mommy than privileges withheld. Thus when a young child obeys, the child needs to be rewarded (wisely). When the child disobeys, rewards need to be withheld. (Animals become trained the same way ' rewards for doing well; reward's withheld for not doing well).
Now getting back to perceptions and attitudes of 'have to' Christianity and 'want to' Christianity. Here's the primary truth of the matter. Satan and his demon spirit helpers are doing everything in their power to try to discredit the 'Christianity' of the New Testament Bible that started after Jesus Christ resurrected and Christianity began to spread as recorded in the book of Acts.
There have been, and are, and will be all kinds of 'strange; bizarre; weird going-ons' in Christian circles, if you were able to travel around this planet and attend enough varying 'Christian gatherings'. Fortunately, there are more 'normal' gatherings going on by Christians around this planet than 'abnormal' (Subject to opinion, I realize). Yet Satan continues to try to 'contaminate' every gathering of Christians he can, and the Bible assures us he's going to continue to try to keep doing so until he is locked away by God at some future time, which won't happen until Jesus Christ returns to earth.
Satan has a number of ways to 'contaminate' Christians who gather, and one of his most effective ways involves the topic of money, because he knows how much our lives evolve around money, and our vulnerabilities regarding it. Satan is unrelenting in trying to subtly brainwash new Christians into believing that they 'have to' give God 10% of their income to please God. (The term 'tithing' is synonymous with 10%). Satan has been so successful, especially in the more developed nations, in perverting the issue (perspective) of money, that I strongly believe that is why so many people stop attending church fellowship gatherings. (Remember: Individual PEOPLE are the "church". Not the PLACE they gather/assemble!) There are other reasons, of course, but I believe that is right near the TOP of many of their list of reasons for not attending.
Let's keep something in perspective here, before moving on. Satan is allowed by God to work through human beings. Satan is THE master of spiritual deception, and to use that to his advantage to discredit Christianity, he delights in using spiritual teachers to take Bible scripture/s and use them to try to persuade their audience to believe they are authorities on what they are saying. Of course these 'Christian" teachers don't realize they are deceived in what they are teaching/communicating; otherwise their conscience wouldn't let them communicate what they are attempting to communicate (most of them anyway; giving them the benefit of the doubt).
Does A Christian Have To Pay God To Please God?
So let's get right to the heart of the matter with our perception regarding money. Does a person 'have to' give God some of their money to please God -- to be a Christian 'in good standing with God?' Does God love one person more for giving 10% of their money to the work of the Lord, but loves someone less who gives NO percent of their money? NO! God unconditionally loves each disciple of Jesus Christ equally the same, not for what they do or don't do, but because of who He is, and who God says they are in Christ Jesus. That's His nature. (How we obey Him once we become His disciple, however, will effect His decisions to reward us or withhold rewards from us, so please don't minimize the importance of obeying the commands of God in the New Testament).
Furthermore ' let me be even more frank with you in answering the question from my own personal perspective. If I HAD to give God money to please God (some people like to use "prove to God" instead of "please God") in any way, I would never have STAYED being a Christian! When I first became a Christian in the early 1980's, I began attending a local church fellowship that so frequently stressed giving 10% of your income that I became brainwashed into believing that if I didn't give 10% of my money to 'the work of the Lord' ' I couldn't possibility be a 'REAL' Christian. There must be something wrong with me, I began to think. Can you identify?
I thank God for that church fellowship, because it was like a Bible college for me in so many ways. I learned many, many revelations of truth from that church fellowship, thank God, but I went through a lot of pain before I was able to get deprogrammed by the Holy Spirit that WHAT that fellowship taught about money and being a Christian was nothing less than one of the most successful spiritual perversions Satan uses to drive people away from God and attending church ' not to include the very REAL possibility that they may be robbing themselves of eternal rewards by not giving much financial support, or not at all, to ANY ministry after that the rest of their lives.
Satan effectively held me captive in my thinking for a number of years from that Pastor's belief about tithing that to please God, I needed to remain a 'have to' Christian the rest of my life and never come to the realization that God wanted to train me to be a responsible 'want to ' GET to' child of His. Saying it a different way ' the only conclusion I could come up with was evidently I had to PAY God to somehow please God.
The God I've come to know, love, and WANT to please over the years is not a 'have to' God. He so wants us to realize He's a 'get to' God. Yet I realize the devil's relentless warfare against our thinking can be hard for us to make the switch from 'have to' Christianity to 'get to' and 'want to' Christianity. Yet pressing forward into these life-giving attitudes are worth all the effort a person has to put into moving into them!
Take a little side-trip with me if you will. Let's back up and use a little common logic here. Does God FORCE us to glorify Him? No. Does God FORCE us to believe He's even real? No. Does God force us to believe heaven is real, and/or hell is real? No. Does God the Father force us to believe that His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, paid full penalty for all of our sins ' past, present and future sins - by dying on the cross in our place, so we will not be judged for them on the Judgment Day? No. The FACT of the matter is, God gives each of us free choice in believing what we decide to believe about all matters spiritual.
But Satan twists things around in Christian circles (never mind OUTSIDE of Christian circles!) when he's allowed to get away with it by subtly trying to make Christians believe they have to evidently PAY God to keep God happy. It's done in various subtle ways, but it needs to STOP. No person HAS to pay God a penny to be pleasing to God, nor being fully loved by and accepted by God. Money is not something Christians 'have to' give to the work of the Lord. Money is something Christians 'get to' give to the work of the Lord, if they want to (And ultimately, if they strive to walk in wisdom).
Why should they 'want to'? Because God has plenty of Bible scriptures telling us 'that we reap what we sow.' We must sow to reap (and if we are wise, we'll be extremely careful in what we sow and how we go about sowing). But do we 'have to' give money to please God? No! A million times 'No!' (But Satan does not want Christians knowing they can believe that). Sowing and reaping issues involves rewards -- loss of rewards.
Satan cannot stop you from making a decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. God has not allowed him to have that much power. But Satan HAS been given the power by God to rob you from receiving maximized blessings (rewards) from God. The greatest rewards God will give Christians for their obedience are NOT going to be realized down here on earth. They will be given in heaven ' in eternity.
Do I Have To Go To A Church Fellowship To Please God?
Do I 'have to' go to a church fellowship, then, to please God? No! But I sure 'get to'! If I attend a local church fellowship, and continue doing so, do I "have to" give money at all to that local church fellowship? No! But I sure "get to"! Do I 'have to' read my Bible every day (or EVER?) to please God? No! But I sure 'get to'! Do I 'have to' pray every day (or EVER?) to please God? No! 'But I sure 'get to'! Do I 'have to' witness to non-believers about the Good News of Jesus Christ? No! But I sure 'get to'! The point I'm trying to make is that my perspective play's an important role in what motivates me to do spiritual things in my relationship with God.
The God I've come to know all these many years has come to help me realize that 'have to' Christianity will drive a wedge of rebellion between you and God like little else will. 'Want to' Christianity is what is the greatest motivator to move us to WANT to obey what God says is good for us. And sometimes in 'wanting to' ' I need to remind myself that I don't 'have to' ' but I sure 'GET TO' ' and if I'm not fully convinced that what I am doing for God isn't a wise, spiritual investment in what motivates Him to want to reward me ' I need to STOP what I'm doing.
Everything God has recorded for us and commands for us to do in the New Testament Bible is not something we HAVE to do. It's something we GET to do, and when my selfish, rebellious sinful heart needs a bit of motivation to move from 'SUPPOSED to' to "WANT to" ' I need to tell myself that I'm the one who will come up short in eternity in the reward department when I start slacking off what God clearly tells me is good for me to DO in the New Testament Bible. I may also never realize much of God's favor in this life if I don't motivate myself to work diligently at purposing to obey God's New Testament commandments.
(TIP: Beware of Christians who constantly try to motivate you to mix Old Testament commands with New Testament commands. That is another ploy of Satan to mess with your head! There would have been no need for God to give us the New Testament if the Old Testament had been totally sufficient).
God is no different than a wise, loving parent. When a child obeys, that parent is motivated to reward that child (yet in wisdom, because each child responds differently to rewards, just as adult Christians do). When a child disobeys, that parent is less motivated to reward that child.
When Christians work diligently at obeying what our heavenly Father wisely suggests we do in the New Testament Bible, we have every reason to trust that eventually, we'll be rewarded. That changes our attitude and perspective on spiritual matters. It moves us out of the training arena from 'have to' to 'get to' because why wouldn't I WANT to obey New Testament instruction if it's good for me?
The quicker people move from 'have to' Christianity to 'get to' Christianity ' the more they will function in healthy 'WANT TO' Christianity. Not out of fear, but out of love and wisdom that God wants all of us growing into.
I've experienced the mental anguishing tug-a-war of 'have to' and 'supposed to' Christianity. I can't thank God enough for delivering me from that kind of mindset of "have to" into 'want to' and 'get to' Christianity.
As I child, I lived in a 'supposed to' and 'have to' world, maybe much like you. And as I grew older, the more I obeyed, the more privileges I was granted. I liked the extended privileges so much that I came to realize that obeying authority pays HUGE dividends. 'Have to' transformed into 'want to'. God wants us to make that same transformation as quickly as we can in our relationship with Him. Our perspective greatly affects how fast that transformation can take place.
In closing, one person views the New Testament Bible as a book of our heavenly Father's stern commands. Another person views the New Testament Bible as a book of our heavenly Father's loving wisdom. A wise, perceptive person having a persistent God-glorifying, truth-seeking, truth-loving attitude about spiritual matters realizes rebellious sinners need to apply both perspectives to make the transformation from 'have to' to 'get to' to "want to" in their relationship with God.
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than find gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. ' Proverbs 3:13-15
She (Wisdom and Understanding) is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her. ' Proverbs 3:18
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