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Monday, July 1, 2013

Laying it on the line

Most of us equate putting something on the line as taking a risk with something and we might just lose it when we do.  There is also the risk the thing we put on the line might just experience so much damage we will never get it back in the same condition - like when the parent hands over the car keys the first time to the new young teen driver!  Risk is inherent in laying anything on the line - whether it be something we own, or even when we open up to a friend about our struggle and inner battles.  I don't think we should be focused on the "risk" as much as we should be focused on the results of never having taken the risk in the first place!  If we never give our kids the keys to the car, they will never learn to drive.  If we never let our kids stand on their own two feet, making some poor choices in the process, we will never see them amount to strong adults.  Risk is inherent in all aspects of growth - so hold on - it is going to get a little "risky" if you plan to grow in Jesus!

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? ... There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture ... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  (Romans 8:31-39 MSG)

So, I want us to see this last verse in this passage.  Read the entire chapter - it is a real blessing, but this part of the passage really drives home the point I want us to get this morning.  Nothing - absolutely nothing - can get between us and God's love!  If you need me to define nothing, I will - it means nothing!  In God's way of doing business, he does not abandon his kids!  He doesn't leave us out to dry - never!  Sin is possible, even after we become Christians.  Yep, as a matter of fact, we probably are more sensitive to our sin now, but we still sin!  Not even that sin can separate us from the love of God.  He already made a way to "deal" with that sin, and the rest which are yet to come!  Truth be told, we still sin, but it doesn't bring us any real satisfaction like it used to - in fact, it might even be a little distasteful or bring us a little grief deep inside our spirit.  Why?  Simply because we underwent an "exchange" of character when we invited Christ into our lives.  Now sin is kind of "distasteful" to us - it leaves a bad taste in our mouth.  

This "bad taste" is actually what works within our spirit to drive us back to God for forgiveness and reconciliation - because sin puts a little space between us and God.  God puts his grace on the line each and ever time we come back to him and ask for his forgiveness.  He doesn't hold back because the risk is too big that we might just take it and then throw it all away again down the line.  Nope, he gives it freely because he desires to have us near him and he will do what it takes to see us grow into his grace!  We have a hard time understanding this kind of love - the love willing to risk it all no matter the cost.  We just don't get it because we are incapable of this - we love with conditions!  God's love and his grace are coexistent - they cannot be separated.  Grace is only necessary when we walk away from the place where we experience his love freely.  Grace brings us back to the place of his love - not because we deserve it - but because he desires it!  Yet, God's grace is never to be taken for granted.

There is always going to be a sense of "risk" in obedience.  If we'd learn to see there is equally as much "risk" in disobedience, if not more, we might just not think the "risk" of obedience too great for us!  Remember, "laying something on the line" involves risk.  Risk involves a degree of probability - there is a "degree" of risk which incrementally increases with each "risky" move we make.  For example, wager a dollar on a bet - you might not feel the "risk" too high, so you "enter into" the bet kind of haphazardly.  Wager a grand on a bet and you might just have a little more "concern" or "fear" because the "risk" you are taking is incrementally higher and the bet is more "serious".  Lay it all on the line and the "risk" is beyond our comprehension!  There is one "risk" we take in life which really doesn't expose us to loss - the "risk" of loving Jesus the way he loves us!

I daresay the "risk" of sin is higher than we might want to pay.  The "risk" of obedience is higher than we might be able to contain!  One involves loss - the other ensures gain!  Which will you choose?  Laying it on the line is what God does best.  He doesn't ask us for anything less.  Just sayin!