June 6, 2014

Perfect Stranger III: The Parent-Child Relationship

[Continued from Part II]

The only way we can even have righteousness to be able to enter eternal life is because of the work Someone else did for us. We need only trust that it has been done. It is finished on our behalf. Only Jesus Christ had the righteousness, holiness and perfection to meet the demands. If we believe we can do this or believe we have done this, we have applied a standard to ourselves that is not possible and this means we are obeying something that is not of God (therefore we are disobeying God).

The Sadducees and Pharisees had done this in the time of Christ. They had applied themselves to what they perceived was God’s Law and God's will but also added a human code that had nothing to do with obedience to God’s Law and requirements for holiness. So when they made a convert they made them twice the son of Hell that they were (Matthew 23:15) because the converts weren't really obeying God, were they? Well...neither are we if we believe that we are obeying perfectly and not sinning. 

1 John 1:8 ~ "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

We then have a grocery list of more generalized idolatry.

“Things will only get better if I have control.”
“Things will only get better if I have comfort”
“Things will only get better if I have power”
"Things will only get better if I get this job"
“Life will only have meaning if this thing happens”

The list could go on ad infinitum because the questions could be put to virtually anything that a person could desire…and therein lies the danger. The dangers are everywhere and this is a daily war. Our minds were made for God. If we do not have God in there, then spiritually something will always try and fill that vacuum. It is a danger God made clear to us a long time ago and was emphatic about naming it...and then killing it in our lives.

Exodus 20:3-5 ~ “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…”

You shall not make a likeness or anything in the earth. This includes mental constructs in our heads involving other people (family included) and what we perceive as necessities of life (foods, clothing, cars, gadgets). They all end up becoming distracts when misused. Things in and of themselves are not evil. People's desires and intent make them good or evil.

In conclusion I ask the same question we started with. What's your “one thing”? What you focus on will determine your usefulness to God in the ministry. If focus is in the wrong direction or on the wrong thing you go from asset to liability with a single decision. You go from treasure to trash. If you turn from God, you make Him trash in you life too. I am telling you right now...Jesus Christ / His Gospel need be that one thing. Anything less is misdirected resources, poor stewardship of your time and abuse of God’s grace. By making God that "thing" in our lives we live out the following...

2 Corinthians 4:2 ~ “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us…”

God cannot be some kind of divine Perfect Stranger. He your Lord and Master. You can either be your own master and a slave to your own sin or allow Christ to be Master and free yourself from your sin. Has Jesus become your Prince or has He been relegated to the status of a pauper in your spiritual life. By making Him pauper you inevitably make yourself one too. If you give Him the homage due he frees you from your slavery to sin by becoming His slave, thereby you become spiritually free. Jesus became a servant to be able to free you from your sin and in doing so He exhibited that He was Master to all. It is the quintessential parent child relationship also. It is about getting under God as our parent, not just our Master. Looking at it in this manner helps us focus on the paternal loving relationship between God and us.

The Lord will take second to no one as He will allow no other Gods before Him. Your “one thing’ should be a desire to bring God back to His proper place at the center of your life (and other people’s lives). Blaming your sinful nature as a cop-out is not an acceptable excuse. God does not want you to alienate Him. He has revealed himself a thousand different ways including sending His Son so that we would become more than casual acquaintances. Yes, God is perfect…but He need not be a perfect stranger in our lives. This is especially true if we are Christian. He is our Father. He specifically sent His Son so that we would be welcomed into His family…no longer strangers and no longer spiritual refugees. We have been adopted and adopted brethren are brothers and sister, not enemies of God.

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