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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I need an arbitrator!

There are times in life when we make things way too complicated.  We get all wrapped up in the "way" things are done or said, totally missing the intent or the heart behind it.  The moment is clouded by all the planning, pomp, and circumstance.  In those times of "complicated" planning, we often forget the simplicity of the truths which really are foundational to our lives.  Simple truths such as God loves you - not for what you do, but because you are created in his image, for his purpose.  Or perhaps the simple truth that grace is the means by which one is "saved" - not works of a man's own hands, or the good intentions of a man's heart.  Truth is not complicated - it borders on the "simple" most of the time - we are the ones who make truth as complicated as it can be!  One such truth is the nearness of God to those who will cry out.  Simple is a term most of us shy away from because we think it means "plain" or "no elaborate" - so we think anything associated with God must be far from "plain" and definitely carry a little bit of the elaborate with it.  It is pretty plain, definitely simple, and not to be complicated by anything man can "add" to the mix.

The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest.  It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!  (Romans 10:8-10 MSG)

In reality, "simple" means easily understood.  It also carries the meaning of being easy to "deal with".  This said, salvation is to be understood and left uncomplicated by whatever it is we think we need to add to it.  Simply put, salvation is as near as the cry of your mouth - for it takes nothing more than to utter the name "Jesus" with a simple request such as "I need you" to bring the grace of God into our lives.  To make this anymore complicated than that is to preach a gospel other than the "original".

The word of faith welcomes God and actually introduces the power and potential of change within a person's life.  Most of us don't recognize the need for change in as many areas as Christ will begin to work within, but when we do call out to Jesus for his grace, we are usually at a place where we recognize at least ONE area where we need his change.  Regardless of "how much" we recognize needs changing, Christ's power and potential is equally at work in our lives once we utter those words.

If we are honest, most of us don't want to live at odds with others, and certainly not with God.  We may have come into a few relationship "bumps" along the way in this life, making living at peace with our brothers or sisters a little more difficult than we'd like it to be, but deep down, we don't really want the conflict.  This is because we are created in the image of God - he doesn't foster conflict, but rather he forgives conflict.  So, when we utter the words "Jesus, I need you", we are really uttering the words "Jesus, I need you to help me restore what I have managed to turn into nothing but conflict."

Conflict is created anytime we are "at variance" with God or another human. To live in a state of conflict is tricky business and requires way more energy than to live in a state of peace.  Ask any returning veteran of any war what it is like to live in a place of "conflict" - where disagreement places them in constant danger.  They will probably admit how much the conflict seemed to be out of their control - yet they were the ones dealing with the outcome of it. Conflict has a way of doing this to us - getting us to a point where we can no longer control the outcome - we just become active and consistent participants in it.  

When we invite Christ into our conflict, we are asking the "Peace-Maker" to enter into the circumstances of this conflict.  It may be risky business to ask him to take over the conflict, but trust me on this - he comes as an arbitrator (one chosen to settle the dispute).  Whether it is our standing with God the Father, or our standing with our brother on this earth, he settles the dispute. He has the ultimate authority to do this - and he is the only one with that authority.  Just sayin!