Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Speaking of Laws

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations -- "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used) -- according to human precepts and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. -- Colossians 2:20-23

People wonder why there seems to be so much infidelity, perversion, and corruption in Christian ministry.  The answer is:   I can learn to behave, but I can't learn to be good.

Most of the time, we encounter Christians who have learned to behave, to live outwardly to please their friends, fellow church members, and their families.  We can fool people, even our spouse.  We can't fool ourselves.  We are hounded by the fact that we are not authentic, that we are living as "actors on the stage of life, playing a role of that which you are not".  That is what the word we translate as "hypocrite" means when Jesus uses it in places like Matthew 23.

Faith doesn't just move mountains.  It changes us from phony actors into children of God.  When we believe the truth in the innermost parts of our being, we will live according to that truth.  That will keep us -- most of the time -- from acting without love toward our brothers and sisters.

I may not act the way you want me to act, but I will always act in accordance with what I truly believe in my heart.  If I act wickedly and contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ, it is because I do not believe in the truth of the gospel.  I will say that, yes, of course, I believe Jesus lived and died for my sins.  I have memorized the Nicene Creed, and so on.  But if I really believed it, I would act upon it.

Suppose I am back in the deep woods some place south of Pulltite.  I know I am south of Pulltite, and I have a compass, and I really want to get to Pulltite.  Easy, then, I just follow that compass needle north.  Now, as it happens, I start out after dark, and I have a light that I keep on the compass.  The only way I am going to get where I'm going is to keep that compass pointed north.

I walk for an hour or two, and there's no sign of Pulltite.  Could I have passed this thriving metropolis in the dark?  Suppose I get to thinking that maybe I wasn't south at all but more east.  Maybe I start thinking the compass is faulty.

If I believe I was south, and I believe the compass is right, I will keep going.  If I don't, I will give up or just start wandering around in the dark.  What I believe is going to determine where I go and what I do.

It is the same way living the Christian life.  Pay no attention to everybody else's experience or what the world says.  The truth is that you and I do not know what anyone else truly believes.  If they could admit it to themselves, most Christians seriously doubt their compass.  Yes, it was Daddy's compass; it was Mama's compass, but times change.  It may not work with all these magnets and electromagnetic waves and GPS.

You are going to, in the end, live by what you believe.  If my works aren't right, I don't really believe my compass.  

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