Monday, November 10, 2008

Life or Death?

On Sunday, Chad continued the series of tough questions. The latest question was “What difference does Jesus make?” In other words, do we exhibit the changed life that occurs when we become a child of God, or are we no different than anyone else?

It’s an important question to consider. After all, if Jesus has made such a difference, shouldn’t others be able to see the fruit of that? Or, is there a big gap between what we say we believe and the actual evidence of our faith? What is faith without action? It isn‘t enough to just “believe in God“ - even the demons “believe“ and SHUDDER (James 2:19). So, what sets us apart from a head-knowledge belief, like a demon, and true faith? It‘s our FRUIT, my friends!! It‘s our ACTIONS!! James 2:26 says “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” Basically, practice what you profess!

How much “gap” is there between the faith we profess and the actual evidence of what we say we believe? Chad said that the gaps “diminish Jesus.” In all actuality, NOTHING truly diminishes Jesus. What Chad meant was that the more our testimony displays a poor witness, the more that unbelievers will look at our lives and say “if that’s what a Christian is, than Jesus is not for me!” All my life, I have tried hard to make sure that there was as little “gap” as possible. Though, I am not infallible. Being that I have a sin nature, I am prone to mistakes. There are times that I won’t measure up to someone’s ideals, but that’s ok. I don’t live to please the world; neither can I be the “savior” of the world by my testimony alone. Laying down the legalism and perfection was something that was very tough for me to realize and cope with, but living on the side of GRACE is so much better than trying to act as though everyone’s choice to accept Christ depends on me! Through Christ, I will do the best I can, but everyone is responsible for their own response to God’s Holy Spirit. If they don’t like the message of truth that I proclaim, that’s their choice. In fact, let’s talk about the ability to “choose” for a moment.

Chad said that REAL love gives a choice. True love cannot exist without freedom, because love is not demanded. God NEVER demands our love. In fact, He communicated to Adam in the garden of Eden that he was FREE to eat from any tree in the garden, but that he must not (He didn‘t say “you can‘t“ just that he shouldn‘t) eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or he would surely die (Genesis 2:8-17). He gave Adam a CHOICE; whether to choose the tree of life, or the tree that would lead to death. Adam made his choice, and it’s that choice that caused the separation between us and God (which God so graciously decided to restore by giving us a second chance at life through Jesus sacrifice for our sins! ISN‘T GOD AMAZING, GRACIOUS, LOVING, AND COMPASSIONATE?!).

Of course, one might argue that if God is so “loving” why does He give us rules? Some may view rules as a restriction, but what are the purposes of rules anyways? Rules are for OUR benefit and protection. If their were no guidelines, boundaries, or standards, how would there be any peace? God is our Father, and He tells us the “yeas” and “nays” for OUR own good; just as any parent instructs a child. One makes “rules” out of love. Of course, we can “choose” to disobey, but we will suffer consequences. Though, if we DO obey, we reap the benefits of positive results that flow from good choices and we spare ourselves pain. It’s like I tell my children, “Casey, Gianna, don’t jump off the couch or you’ll get an ouchie.” They can “choose” whether or not they want to obey, but their choices have consequences one way or another. Giving them a command is for their benefit, because I love them and don’t want them to get hurt. However, they are still free to see for themselves what jumping off the couch will do if they don’t believe me. Regardless of their mistakes, I will comfort them; just as God comforts us even when we defiantly go against His good plans for us. His love for us never changes, just like my love for my children doesn’t change no matter how much they disobey.

The choice is truly ours; and it really is a “life and death” choice. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says:

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Blessings come when we choose LIFE! Destruction comes when we choose death. Which would you rather have? Life by the Spirit which is real LIFE, or life in our sinful nature which is death? (Romans 8:13) Choosing ourselves results in death, but choosing God equals life - FOREVER!! God freely gives you the option. It’s up to you to DECIDE! I pray you will choose life and that the separation from His presence wouldn‘t be something you would desire!! May grace and peace be with you!!

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