Alpha Ministries, Inc
All of us are confronted with a multitude of choices to make daily. Many of them seem small and almost inconsequential while others seem overwhelming and life threatening. What makes life so complicated and hard is not just the choices we make but often it seems we really have no choice at all. Much of our confusion and frustration in life comes from the fact that we are not sure what choices we have, if we even have a choice, and exactly what choice we should make in any given situation. Welcome to the world of a control freak!
Seeking to control the people and circumstances in our life comes from a deep need to make ourselves secure in an insecure world. There is no guarantee that we will be unconditionally loved, accepted, and forgiven in this dog-eat-dog and often hostile world. In fact, chances are that we will be neglected, abandoned, or even abused. Likewise, unless we can control the people and circumstances in the chaos of this world it is impossible to find a real sense of importance, purpose, and competence. Wrong or bad choices seem naturally to lead to a meaningless and unsatisfying life.
Underlying all other choices we must make is the most important and basic choice. It is the choice the Bible urges us to make daily and describes it in a variety of terms. Jesus invites us to take his “yoke” upon us (Matthew 11: 28-30). Paul urges us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God” (Romans 12: 1-2). James tells us to ask for wisdom from above (James 1: 5). Peter calls on us to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5: 6). All these directives (and many more) have one thing in common…surrender. We give up trying to make it happen and let God do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
In the AA program of recovery the 3rd step describes this kind of surrender as deciding to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. Making the choice to surrender all our decisions as well as our very lives to the control and care of God is the foundation and start of a new and satisfying lifestyle of grace in which God, through his indwelling Spirit, leads us, guides us into all truth, comforts us in our choices, reminds us who we are, and produces the very character of Christ in us. As Paul instructed the Philippians 2: 12-13, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and do of his good pleasure. “
The fundamental choice we all must make each day is whether we want to let God control our lives. It is really a no-brainer since he is the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe and loves us so much he gave his life for us. For me it boils down to one simple prayer each morning, “Lord please remind me of who you made me to be in your son and guide me in how you want me to love others around me today”. I really do not have any other choice that makes sense.
|Posted on 1 April, 2014 at 16:00|
This week we celebrate the national holiday for all atheists, April 1st, April Fools Day. Unfortunately, those who deny the existence of God are not the only fools; anyone who trusts in and depends on the wisdom of man is just as foolish. Even God's kids can fall prey to this kind of foolishness as did the baby believers in the churches of Galatia when Paul asked them, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?" (Galatians 3:1) Admittedly, this is a mouthful and may be difficult for us to understand today; but it is just as relevant a question in our present culture as it was in Paul's day.
The Galatian believers had become foolish in their thinking when they began to believe the false teachers who told them it was not enough to simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified as a sacrifice for your sins, you must also submit to religious rituals and try as hard as you can to keep the rules. While the rite of circumcision was a main issue among the early churches, today it may be baptism, communion, speaking in tongues, or some other religious ritual that is deemed necessary for eternal salvation. The principle is the same. What Jesus did for us on the cross was not enough, we must do something else beside believe on him in order to be saved. This kind of religious philosophy is a perversion of the gospel today just as it was in the first century.
The root of such foolishness comes from the natural pride of the human heart. Because of this pride we do not think what God has done for us in Christ is enough. We believe that we must do something other than just believe on Jesus to earn God's approval and gain his blessings. It was this message of grace and truth that Jesus proclaimed that irritated the religious leaders of his day to the point they wanted to kill him. He offended their pride when he told them they could not be good enough for God on their own. What really sent them over the edge was that he claimed to be God saying that he and the Father were one and announced the good news that we can only be saved by becoming one with him. Rather than rejoice at the prospect of being one with him and the Father, they were offended when he told them that. "Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood" (become one with him, John 6) they had no life in them at all. Many of his disciples said this is a "hard saying, who can hear it" when they realized what Jesus was saying.
Becoming one with Jesus is the very heart of the good news. It is called by theologians our "union with Christ" and is illustrated by baptism into his death, burial, and resurrection. It is what Jesus was illustrating as he fed the multitudes and promised his disciples that they would know that he was in the Father and they were in him and he was in them. Paul uses the phrase, "in Christ" or "in Him", or "in whom" some 164 times in his letters to emphasize the fact of and describe our union with Christ. When we are born again of the Spirit Jesus is in us and we are in him! This means that what is true of Jesus is true of us. As John put it in his first general letter, "because as he is, so are we in this world". (1 John 4:17) The only reason God accepts us is because we have been made a new person in Christ and are holy and without blame before him in love.
Ignoring our union with Christ is the biggest mistake that anyone can make. It is absolute foolishness to think that there is any other way to please God than by believing what he has done to make us one with his son, Jesus. This is why Paul refers to the wise men of this world as fools because they think God's plan of salvation by joining us to his son (God's wisdom in the cross) is foolishness. To all those who scoff at the wisdom of God, happy fools day!
John C Glenn