Thursday, October 2, 2014

Read the Fine Print

There is a call in scripture to "live appropriately".  To some, this may seem a little like it is open to interpretation - as though each life can pick and choose what is appropriate for them.  I think we need a better standard than our own whims and fancies, though.  This is why God left us with scripture to be our guide - because he knows our tendency to not only blaze new trails, but to die trying!  Scripture simply gives us a set of "established principles" by which we are to fashion our choices and live out our actions.  Whenever we pick and choose which portions we will align with and those which we will just ignore, we are failing to use all the armor we are given as warriors of Christ.  It is like going out without underwear!  We know we are missing it, but we hope no one else will know!

You know what sort of times we live in, and so you should live properly. It is time to wake up. You know that the day when we will be saved is nearer now than when we first put our faith in the Lord. Night is almost over, and day will soon appear. We must stop behaving as people do in the dark and be ready to live in the light. So behave properly, as people do in the day. Don’t go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent. Don’t quarrel or be jealous. Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear. Then you won’t try to satisfy your selfish desires. (Romans 13: 11-14 CEV)

Living "properly" entails a great many things, but in general it is the idea of conforming to the establish standards or principles of behavior.  Therefore, "properly lived" lives are those which are founded on obedience.  Obedience is more than just triumphing over one's contrary will though.  It is a willingness to do what it right even when you might not fully appreciate the value in the action.  For example, I may not understand fully why the label on the food product I purchase tells me to "refrigerate when open".  I see this warning on the label and I just do it - because it says to and I trust the manufacturer of this product to be aware of what the hazards are to me if I don't.  It is the same way with scripture - I may not fully understand why I am told to act a certain way, but I trust the "manufacturer" of my life to know the hazards which come whenever I choose not to!

When I bought my first new car, I signed a contract to pay for it over time.  To be truthful - I did not read all the fine print of that contract, though.  I was making a commitment, nonetheless, to be faithful to making this agreed upon payment X 60 months.  At the end of that term, the car would be fully mine - until then, the bank owned it and I had to pay them back.  This much I understood, but the other fine print about the penalties of defaulting on the loan and the like - I skipped those.  Why?  I didn't intend to need them - I had no intention of defaulting.  Now, if I had found myself in a place where it became difficult to make the payment (such as losing a job), what then?  Those "fine print" words would matter, wouldn't they?  We cannot treat scripture as though we don't have to "read the fine print" and only refer to it when we think we might be in trouble!  We need it today, tomorrow, and the next day - all of it.

We actually allow something to occur in our lives when we begin to get into the "fine print" of scripture - it is like Christ wraps himself around us - as close as the clothes we wear.  There is a meshing together of the words on the page into the fibers of our inner being - helping us be transformed into the newness and likeness of Christ.  This doesn't come just by trusting there is good stuff in there, or that we know the one who "contracts" with us would not put difficult stuff in there which would make it difficult for us to "perform on the contract". The truth is - there is some pretty difficult stuff in scripture - difficult to understand, harder to incorporate into our lives, and even harder to live out consistently.  This is why he gave us the Holy Spirit - to come alongside and help us with the "fine print".  Do you know who I took with me when I bought that new car?  My dad.  Why?  He knew what fine print was in those contracts because he had sold new cars before!

Just like my dad, God has our best in mind.  He knows the ins and outs of what life entails for us on a daily basis.  He wants to save us the pain of "defaulting" on our contract with him - those promises we make to live well, trust him fully, and the like.  He knows we just don't intend to default - but it happens.  We need him to help us with not only the understanding of how it is we are to live (the truth in scripture), but how to actualize it in our lives on a daily basis.  To this end, he wants to wrap himself around us (in the form of his living Word) just as clothes wrap themselves around us.  Why?  When his Word is this close to the fibers of our being, we are less prone to fulfill the desires of our own selfish will.  We are less likely to "default" on our promises!  Just sayin!

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