Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Student Post: Sarah McDowell on Knowing God in an Indian Context

Student Sarah McDowell led ISP devos for us last week, and her topic was particularly relevant at a time when we're hitting a low point in our journey through culture shock. She reminds us to look to God for all that we need, trusting that He will provide us with things that are good. Enjoy!

If only it were this easy to find Jesus! {Click to see larger}

The first verse to look at is 2nd Peter 1:3

“As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a Godly life. He has called us to receive His own glory and goodness.”

This means that we have everything that matters in our lives through Christ, and that should reflect in us through our attitudes. This specifically means that we have everything that is good spiritually. Christ will not equip us to do things that will pull us further from God, as He wants us to become more Godly, spiritual people. This also reflects into a different verse, in Colossians 2:10

“God gives us everything that we will ever need in Christ, we are complete in Him.”

This shows us that God has completed us and we are complete only in and through Him, and any other methods of attempting to find completeness in life will ultimately fail. In our discussion this week we talked specifically about the ways that some of us may use travel, relationships, or “seeing the world” to fulfill the completeness of ourselves. And though none of these things are bad, and all are fulfilling pursuits, they need to be endeavored with the understanding that they will not complete us, and we need to venture into them with the attitude of being subservient to Christ above all.

The objective, then, of realizing that we have all that we need in order to live a Godly life, is to become Godly people, in order to glorify the father. This reflects into the 5th verse of 2nd Peter, which (in a nutshell) says that if we attain Godly lives, we will then be on the path to moral excellence, which will lead to knowing God better, which leads to self control, which leads to patient endurance, which leads to Godliness, which leads to love for others, which finally leads to a genuine love for all people. As this is the second greatest commandment, after love the Lord your God with all your heart, this should therefore be one of our greatest aspirations in life.

2nd Peter 1:4a says

“And by that same mighty power, He has given all of His rich and wonderful promises”

This means that “the gift” is God’s promise to be with us and to be a part of us, and that this promise exceeds any hardship that we will ever endure. And through the knowing of God we can gain knowledge of and access to His promise.

2nd Peter 1:4b says

“He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in His divine nature.”

This is the verse that initially stood out to me as I researched this devotion, and it struck me because of the term “decadence,” which is something that we are learning to live without as we settle into our homes in India. This means that the escape is something pivotal in our lives, and it is something that we aspire to through the knowledge of Christ. This escape is something that became effective the moment that we believed in our savior, and nothing binds us to the Earth (and that which we aspire to escape from) except ourselves and our sinful nature.

Some other translations of the same verse translate “decadence” to “the corruption of this world,” which is further translated in other ways to being the “decomposition or rotting of an organism’s internal self.” This means that if we fail to detach ourselves from the reliance on the world (and thus not on God) we are condemning ourselves to a life away from Him.

As students of the ISP program we are learning to live in a new environment, and one that is so vastly different from the lives that we are used to at home. At the beginning of our meeting this week we all sat down and discussed things that we missed. Everyone wrote down a few significant things, like loved ones, familiar cities, or my cat Confucius, and we all wrote down several insignificant things, like good (American) coffee, water pressure, lack of cockroaches, and soft beds. So at the end of our discussion we were able to relate the “escape from decadence” to learning to embrace and appreciate the things that we so frequently miss from home. In this way we can hope to not only embrace our lives in India, but we can learn to love living with less, and we can use that experience to know God better.

- Sarah McDowell

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