God's Exacting Standards
For a long time I was troubled by such lines as:
Luke 9:62 NIV "No
one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of
God." [in reference to a potential disciple who was not prepared to drop everything
and immediately follow Jesus, fully surrendering his will to him. All the farmer was
asking was if he could go back to his family and say goodbye before joining Jesus.]
There are many lines in the bible which demand
unwavering allegiance. Like the first and stated greatest command in the bible, which is
to "Love our God with all our hearts, and all our strength, and all our mind."
So what does this mean? One could argue that all those who do not attain perfect
righteousness will burn forever in hell.
I realize that by believing Jesus we are saved, but obedience is also important.
Anyway, what I am trying to get at is that this strict demand and ultimatum has long
bothered me. I could not believe that all my good yet unbelieving friends will spend
eternity in flaming fire. Many Christians would practically gloat in comfort that this is
indeed correct and feel confident that their fanny will not experience any flame at all -
we shall see.
But setting aside all these arguments, what bothered me was the demanding nature of it
all. The ultimatum. "Give me a hundred percent or die." The very nature of such
demands bothered me, but now I received a bit of a revelation concerning this, so I am
writing it down.
Basically it concerns how I run my own business. I have always taken the greatest concern
and pride in attaining the best quality I could. I would farm out work to my translators
and did not like it when they would produce slop for me. I would set up stringent quality
control procedures, where quality and tested translators would double check or proofread
translations provided by others. Sometimes I would get very large projects and need to use
new translators, who I learned were cutting corners and translating quickly, obviously
with the intention of earning more money. But when I sent their translations back to them,
showing the extensive changes made to them by my quality proofreader, they would often
admit in shame of their shoddy work, be surprised that I even caught them, gain great
respect for my company, and vow to be much more conscientious for the remainder of the
project (they would have to anyway, if they wanted to receive any more files from me).
I disliked the idea that I would stamp my name on a final product that was the shoddy work
of others. It was my NAME, after all, that was at stake. It was always my aspiration to
produce work I was proud of at the end of the day, and I did not want to have my name
scarred (nor suffer the loss in clients which that would entail).
And I feel that God works in a similar way. Many times throughout the bible you hear him
reference the importance he places on his NAME. He is a holy and spiritual creature not
burdened by the passions and desires of flesh, and if we want to be closer to him, to
holiness, and to a spiritual life, it does not make sense to compromise, cut corners, and
allow a certain amount of grime into the holy. The bible says that it is our sin that
separates us from God. It is not God separating himself from our filth, but it is our own
filth which is keeping us away from being more holy. God will not hate us if we will be
filthy pigs. The bible is quite clear that he continues to love us and exercise his
unbound grace towards us. But in stressing his exacting standards on us, he is pushing us
towards the highest ideal. Not for his own satisfaction and pride, but because, in his
wisdom, he sees that this is the best for us. We whine and beg for at least a little bit
of filth in our lives, and he is adamant against it, because he loves us, because he is a
perfect holy being, and therefore has such exacting standards.