Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All the world's a stage...

11The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. 
(Galations 3:11 The Message)

It is not what we do FOR God that matters - - it is what we do WITH God!  Shakespeare wrote:  "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts."  I believe there is great wisdom in the choice of "stage"  upon which we "act out" life - - and the choice of Director makes the difference in the impact of the play!

Nobody can be "on top of their game" 100% of the time.  It is physically and emotionally impossible to be attentive to every thought which leads to action - except by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  He acts as a "gate-keeper" over our thoughts - when we give him the freedom to be directing our course.  

Paul wrote to the Roman church, "1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."  (Romans 12:1-2 The Message)

If we "unpack" these verses a little, we see the consistency between what he wrote to the Galation believers and the Roman church.  His intention is merely to show the futility of living life by the "letter of the law".  A system of rules will never be enough to bring about living, intimate fellowship with a holy God.  Take particular notice of the items I highlighted in bold, italics, or underlining.  These are key points!

- It is our EVERYDAY, ORDINARY life God wants.  This is the meat of the matter.  He wants more than our Sunday mornings - he wants our Monday, going back to work, mornings!  He looks forward to walking alongside us into the uncertainty of tomorrow.  

- He looks for us to PLACE IT before him without regret, resentment, or fear of what he might do with this day we have been given.  Sometimes we regret giving him our "everyday" life because we don't see much value in what we do.  He does!  At other times, we resent "handing over" control of our lives because we cannot be in control.  The most successful place to be is in his hands - not ours.

- We EMBRACE what he does.  This is what we do FOR him.  In the yielded spirit, God is honored above all else.

- It is in the FIXING OF OUR ATTENTION on God that our focus becomes clear and without uncertainty.  When we are correctly focused, the image produced will be clear, crisp, and a perfect replica of the original!

- God wants something FROM us - it is our RESPONSE to him!  It should be immediate - this is the meaning of "readily recognize".  His leading is quick and it is sure.  In the moments between a good choice and a poor one, his leading is quickly given.  It is our response to the leading which determines the course.

So, in looking at the correlation of these two passages, we see Paul's consistent message.  It is not the things we do FOR God which matter the most - it is indeed what we do WITH God!  Do we bring him along for the ride, or does he direct the course?  Do we engage him in our decisions, or do we just invite him to rescue us whenever they don't prove as "sound" as we'd hoped?  There are lots of rules we could keep in life - none produces the same result as walking in grace!