Previously on 24…I was making the point that we all live with goals in life. Those of us who believe in Christ include in our goals spiritual ones: less of this, more of that. That we would put on more goodness and put off more yuck. These are not bad in any universe. Until…
Until we arm ourselves with the incorrect tool. I was talking about Radio Man Stan and his commitments in Lent. Once again, to buckle down to more Bible study is a good thing. To use Lent as a means to spur one on to that end: good thing. What struck me at a visceral level was both how charming he thought he was being in doing so and the fact that it might be true that his (our) failures had more to do with him (us) than with God.
So, in that universe of thinking, God is a tool: the means to a better you or your best life now. In that universe of thinking, what’s most important is that I be better. We aren’t actually living for His glory but for our own ever increasing glory (or happiness). We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do and be better. We watch other parents and spouses and co-workers and etc. and tell ourselves that we should and can be better. We even see others who serve more and love more and die-to-self more and we tell ourselves that we should and can be better. (And we’re probably right.)
Then we realize (quickly) that we aren’t. Or, if we are, we might’ve picked the ones against whom we stack up pretty nicely. In this universe of being better we are always looking for tools. Of course we need them because without them (i.e., status quo) we aren’t better. According to the laws that we set down for ourselves, we fail to keep them at best or we regularly break them at worst and God as our tool to better selves doesn’t work too well. We end up still screaming, pouting, failing, manipulating and getting caught. So the problem must be God – He’s just not enough.
Now, I don’t know anyone who actually talks that way, but, I do know a whole lot of people who are disgusted with the regularity of their sin and they don’t know how to stop or change. (Hint: They’ve “used” God and it hasn’t worked.) Suggest to them something simple and they get the glazed eye look. I once had a seminary instructor who was livid after a guest chapel preacher mimicking James 5 told folks that if they are sick, they should confess their sins and see if it is related. He was blathering on about how simplistic and stupid this man was! The thought that sin and sickness could be related (even though it’s clearly in the passage).
I’ve seen something shocking in the faces of believers who are desperate for something different: gospel boredom. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means little. It means a lot when we talk about eternal address, but parenting? Communication? Mercy ministry? Forget about it.
We have become a people who demand something complicated. How is that so when folks are typically clamoring for the books and teachers who have the easiest and most practical messages? They are the ones who say citing simplicity and relevance, “Sermons must have applications that are relevant!” These balk at those who beckon them to something more mysteriously complicated (they think) because we want it complicated not simple. We’d never say that though.
Check your heart: is the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Christ where you turn when bombs start exploding in your marriage? If I were to tell you what Paul tells us in the Scriptures, you would be skeptical. You’d accuse me of oversimplification. You’d tell me that maybe that works in seminary but not here. Really?
The greatest gift we could ever have is a perfect life, an atoning death, a completed resurrection, and an assurance of an exorbitant inheritance, right? Do we not see that in Christ that is exactly ours?
For us, in Him; in us, for Him. It’s all done.