Sunday, July 1, 2012

Driving, But No Licence

When we look at Romans 5 and 6, there’s an obvious truth about what God thinks about grace and sin.  As our founding pastor would describe it, grace is not a licence to sin.  Nor is it a licence for dissension.  Let's take a look and think about some things.

Philippians 4:2-5, 8-9  "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.  And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.  Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."

Those are a potent set of verses, on a number of fronts.  Because they clarify so much doctrine in so few words.  In the first few sentences, Paul speaks to Euodias and Syntyche and tells them to think in unity with each other.  Skip the doctrinal disagreements in the areas that don't matter?  That sounds exactly like what Paul and Jesus would teach.  "Don't sweat the small stuff."

Next, we see Paul speaking to the fellow believers that surround these women.  Telling them to get behind the things the women were doing in the Lord.  The women had gained the same heavenly position the men did.  And God hadn't wasted intellect by giving it to these women instead of a couple of men.  I got to experience something very similar during our annual international convention. As part of our Pastoral Care department, I plugged myself into the staffing schedule for our hospitality and information desks.  The scheduling was coordinated by two ladies who obviously have administrative gifts.  As a result of their efforts, everything went as smooth as butter.  Thank you Leah and Debbie for your Godly insight and your hearts to make things as easy as possible for our guests.

In that very same passage, Paul goes on to talk about openly demonstrating moderation and describes a whole list of things that ought to occupy our minds.  To keep our minds focused in the right direction.  Because sin and sins are not some huge event.  The original language uses an archery term that speaks of missing the mark.  It doesn't matter to God if it's murder, adultery, excusing our behavior because others aren't "giving grace", or just a "little white lie".  It's still missing the mark.  It's still sin.  The idea of degrees of sinning is a concept created by the mind of man, not God's mind. That's not to say that adultery or murder aren't really bad.  Just that the "little sin" isn't really so little.  They all lead us to miss the mark. When we're not thinking with God, the wrong things are in play.

I suspect the two parts of that passage are put together for a reason.  It doesn't matter if I'm a great preacher or writer or just someone else in the pews of a church.  If I'm not receiving God's thoughts for my life, I'm missing the mark.  And it doesn't matter whether those thoughts come in a conversation with some young lady I'd like to date, or if those thoughts come in a "barn burner" sermon from my pastor, or if it comes from someone I'd rather not listen to saying things I don't want to hear.  If I don't pay attention to God's heartbeat, no matter how it's communicated, I'm missing the mark.

As we read the passage, there are a couple of "bridge verses" between those sections.  Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.".  If we have a two way conversation with God, we get to share our hearts and thoughts with God while focusing on His heart and thoughts for us.  That's the thing that brings us to utter peace beyond our normal capacity. The thanksgiving takes us into the commanded rejoicing.  And that all keeps us from missing the mark.  We begin living in God's thoughts instead of our own concepts and excuses.

That's the point where, like Paul in verse 11, we are content, no matter what our circumstances.  Because God is in the circumstances.  And, despite what it may sound like, contentment isn't giving up.  We can always aspire to greater things.  But, when we're connected to the mind of God, we are content in where God has us now, but looking toward where God is taking us.

What's making you content, today?  And what is God planning to make an even more glorious future for you?

No comments:

Post a Comment