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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Here comes the truck again....

The Law - God's plan for salvation.  Yet the Law could not make a man or woman completely right simply by the "keeping" of the letter of the Law. It would be like saying we should be President of the United States just because we don't speed on the freeways, never cheat on our taxes, and don't litter along the sidewalks.  The Law merely pointed out the way of salvation - a road map of sorts clearly leading to Christ.  Blood sacrifice was God's plan - so he connected his eternal plan to something tangible his people could understand.  A life for a life, so to speak.  The scapegoat sent outside the camp "bearing" the sins of the people after the High Priest prayed over it - an physical expression of what Christ accomplished at the cross for each of us.  The Law is always written for those who are "under its power" - who will submit to the plan it lays out. Anyone who is not "law-abiding" is subject to the penalties associated with not keeping that law.  All any law does is present a pretty undeniable plan or standard of actions/behaviors - so living by any other standard is simply pointing out how much someone deviates from that plan.  The Law actually points out how guilty one might actually be - for every "violation" is able to be observed.  We are NEVER accepted by the keeping of the Law - it merely presents a set of principles which point the way to something bigger.  The purpose of the laws of our local government is to give us a community which is pleasant to dwell within.  Leave trash on the curbs in black barrels each Tuesday and it will be picked up promptly before noon.  Pile it up in your backyard and you will be fined for creating a health hazard and possibly be cited under the "hoarders" rules.  The purpose of God's Law is to give us a clear understanding of how unsuccessful we will be at making or achieving our own plan of salvation. We need the trash trucks and faithful drivers to reclaim our trash each week. Apart from their actions on our behalf, we'd have trash piled up a mile high in our yards.  Apart from Christ's actions on our behalf, we'd have trash piled up in our lives far outreaching that mile of garbage in the backyard!

Now we see how God does make us acceptable to him. The Law and the Prophets tell how we become acceptable, and it isn’t by obeying the Law of Moses. God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 CEV)

I live in a neighborhood with three separate trash pick-ups.  Each week we put out the black can for our regular household trash and the blue can for everything we will recycle.  One day a month, we put out all our "bulk" trash, such as large limbs from the trees, broken furniture, or scraps from building projects.  I have faith the trucks will be around each week and on that one week each month when they will come with the tractor with the scooper-jaws to pick up all the bulk stuff.  I have been disappointed by them on occasion - putting out my trash a little bit too late, thereby missing their scheduled rounds.  I have also put out the pile of bulk stuff, then realized they came the day before!  I have to haul it all back inside the fence until next month when that occurs! What is the difference between what I do with the various components of trash from my home vs. what God does in my life with the things which are really kind of "rubbish-like"?  Simply put, he does the work of removing the rubbish, recycling what can be made new again, and creating a place which brings honor to him.  He asks us to submit to his "terms" of removal, though!  Just like I have to submit to the "terms" of removal my local government established related to my household trash/rubbish, I have to submit to God's plan for removing the things from my life which no longer belong.

That plan is simply Christ Jesus.  All the Law ever did was point out the blood sacrifice required to remove our sin.  It pointed out the futility of trying to do things on our own terms - because we'd have to do them again and again.  I have to take out the trash each week at my house - because this is the means by which I can rid my household of the smelly stuff!  I could not just "say" I am "law-abiding" and never move the black can to the curb.  In time, it would simply smell worse and worse as it fermented in the hot sun.  I could opt to take it out on my own terms - like every other week or maybe even once a month.  In the meantime, I deal with all that trash.  The garbage truck comes by faithfully each week, but it bypasses my home.  The garbage man might "want" to deal with my trash, but until I give him access to it, he cannot take it away to the dump!  Until we give Christ access to the rubbish of our lives, we are managing our "rubbish"!  I don't know about you, but I don't do a good job with this on my own!  All the Law pointed out for the Israelites back in the time of Moses was how God wanted to be the one to remove the sin from their lives. He didn't ever expect them to be the ones to actually do it themselves!

Each Monday night the black can is moved to the curb; each Tuesday night the blue one is positioned there, as well.  Why?  We have faith the rumbling trash compacting truck will make its way through our neighborhood, "consuming" all the stuff contained in those cans and leaving us with "room" to leave more next week.  God does the work of "removing" the rubbish in our lives in stages - once at the point of our saying yes to Jesus, then as faithfully as he will always be, he keeps on coming around to leave us with "room" for the next batch of stuff we will lay at his feet!  God isn't a glorified trash-man, but you get the idea - he is at the ready to remove what doesn't belong in our lives anymore.  Sin needs to be removed far away from us - to a place where it can meet its final doom!  His actions on our behalf remain ever so faithful - yet there are some actions on our behalf which allow him to do what only he can do.  Just as we have to put the black and blue cans on the curb each week, so we have to faithfully do our part in bringing to God what only he can deal with through the Blood of Jesus. Rather than attempting to deal with what will eventually become a overwhelming pile of mess in our lives, isn't it much better to finally get it to the curb so Jesus can take it away?  Just sayin!