Thursday, July 1, 2010

When Stuff Christians Like Gets in God’s Way

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:21-23

Couples who celebrate golden anniversaries are the ones that stayed married. Graduates who receive their diplomas are the ones who completed the coursework. Employees who receive a gold watch and possibly preferred parking are the ones who stayed with the company through thick and thin. Well, at least that’s the way that it used to be.

Now, employees who run the distance are not only dedicated, but they also have employers who won’t offshore their jobs. Educational standards aren’t what they used to be. As long as you pay your tuition, more than likely you will end up with a piece of paper. Then, there’s marriage. Now a days it seems that as soon as spouses decide that they’re unhappy, well that’s the end of that. When did we begin to settle for such mediocrity? It’s clear that what has become acceptable in the world is still not acceptable among God’s people.

We started out as God’s enemies who were alienated from Him because of our evil behavior. Then, God provided His Son to pay the price, so that we can be reconciled. God’s heart is always toward reconciliation.

Not only did God provide the way for a relationship with Him, He also did things for us that we couldn’t possibly do for ourselves. He made us holy in his sight, without blemish, and free from accusation. When we look at ourselves, we quickly discover that we are none of those things. If we’re holy and without blemish, then why do our minds wander to the places that they go at times? Why do we plot revenge? Why do we harbor resentment?

Paul goes on to say that we are free from accusation. But, we have an accuser who is regularly reminding us of how bad we are (Revelation 12:10). Just when we think that God could use us, the enemy is right there to remind us about how terrible we are.

But, these aren’t things that we have to work up. A holy, blemish-free, accusation-free life comes from God. He gives it to us. We don’t have to work for it. But, are required to do one thing: not quit. Whether you believe that continuing in the faith is optional or mandatory, what we see here is that continuing is the requisite of everything else.

We have a poster in our home that was displayed in many households during World War II. It is a simple light blue poster with the words: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” (The Pixar counterpart to this is Dorie’s line from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming.”) When things are not going well? Keep calm and carry on. When things are falling apart? Just keep swimming.

Life presents us with many tests. At times it feels that some of these tests just might destroy us. God’s purpose is not to destroy us, but his purpose is to break us. He wants to remove everything that is interfering with our relationship with Him. All of these Christian things that we add on to our faith get in the way. God is a jealous God. He wants us to only long for Him. Then, He will provide everything that we need to carry on in the faith.

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  1. I agree with our need to persevere. I would just add that in marriage, perseverence doesn't have to look like staying in a marriage because that is the "Christian" thing to do. When one spouse is not willing and in fact needs to be held accountable for behavior, I think the loving and healthy thing is sometimes not assuming trusting God=a surviving marriage, but that trusting God=trusting God. Having patience and in the mean time making healthy, Godly choices (especially where children are involved) and knowing God doesn't need your marriage to succeed for his work to be accomplished. Sometimes your marriage is the "Christian" thing that just might be getting in the way.

  2. Not many comments here Alan, but please know that your posts hit home with me. Perhaps a bit too close, but thank you for writing. It means a lot to me. See you on the 4th!

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    I agree with you. If the "Christian" thing to do is just to grin and bear it, then that's not a great place to be. If the Christian thing to do is to love your enemies, forgive one another, be kind and compassionate, etc., then those are things that we must practice as believers regardless of the situation.

    The bottom line is that a marriage has to be moving in a direction. As I mentioned in the service on Sunday at Brookwood, you are either moving toward reconciliation or separation. If you keep short accounts, address problem behaviors, put selfishness aside and grow in your marriage, then you can make progress. If you let things go, continue to be selfish, and hope the problems just go away, then your marriage is headed toward separation.

    Marriage is a lot of work, but it is so worth it.

    I don't know who you are or what you have experienced. I would suspect that you have been in a very painful situation. I am praying for you and the hurts in your life. I don't know who you are, but God does.

  4. To note ( the poster wasn't displayed in people's homes in the war, they didn't know about it!

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  6. Are you saying that this was a quote from the wartime era, but wasn't displayed in homes? This is what I inferred from the link. Nice shirt, by the way.