Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Greek to Me!

     We are fast approaching that time of year when thoughts begin to turn to the holidays.  Personally, I have already started my journey of shopping - online!  Less stress, more coffee,  and savings on gas.  However, once the gifts are purchased, someone has to put the toys together.  As a grandparent, I have lovingly passed that job along to our children.  My dear husband will tell you that most directions for constructing a model castle, doll house or even a toy kitchen are written in Greek and never have all the parts.  Lets face it - there is nothing easy when it comes to putting a toy together.  The same is true for the "easy assembly" book shelves or T.V. stands.  While directions for putting items together may be complicated, following in the steps of Christ is not.
     One of the clearest verses in the Bible tells us with simplicity what the Lord requires of us.  Micah 6:8 reads:  "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  This is not complex or hard to understand but to get the full context  we need to look at verses 6 and 7 as well.  Micah says:  "With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?  Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"  In these two verses, Micah points out, in  rhetorical fashion, the absurdity of Israel's ritual and sacrifice by which they hope to earn divine favor.  His people do not understand that God's grace is not earned, but it is free.
Going through the motions of worship and doing good deeds does not earn us merit with God.  The Lord's grace cannot be bought, earned, or bargained for.  It is a gift to be given to whom He will.
     Some how we make walking with Christ complicated not unlike the Pharisees.  We add this activity or that good deed to polish our image with God, but as Micah has said very plainly  we are to love kindness, do justice and walk humbly with God.  In these words, the prophet sums up the simplicity of obedience to the Lord.  One of the reasons Jesus so often conflicted with the religious leaders is the complexity and burdens which they placed upon the people.  They took what God had given to them in the Ten Commandments and added over 600 additional laws to keep from breaking a commandment.  Don't we do the same thing at times?
     We can take the simple faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and make it complicated.   For example, there was a period when if I missed having a quiet time, I really felt I had blown my walk with God.  It became a hard and fast rule and somehow I reasoned that if I did not do this every day God would not be pleased with me.  This is far from the truth!  Jesus told us His burden was light and not cumbersome like that of the Pharisees.  What we have to remember is that God through Jesus Christ has satisfied the debt for our sins.  When we are found in Him, we are forgiven, and He calls us to depend upon Him.
     Certainly walking in this world is not easy as a Christian.  Our flesh makes war with our spirit, but by the blood of Christ, we are free to obey our Lord and walk with Him.  He doesn't want good works or empty worship.  He wants our heart.  He wants to walk with us daily and be a part of everything we do.  It is simple yet profound.  Why do we make it so complicated?  Our faith should never be like the directions to a put together toy or book shelf - complicated and written in another language!  Instead, God has simply done for us what we could not do for ourselves.  We are called by His grace to faith in His Son.  As a result of His work in our lives, our good deeds grow out of love for Him...not to earn points with Him.  Isn't that Good News!  It isn't Greek to us, and it isn't burdensome.    Lets remember Micah's words to His people:  ".....what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  It is so simple, even a child can believe!  Selah!

How have you kept your faith simple?  I welcome your thoughts and insights.  Your words of encouragement minister to me and others who read here.  Blessings!

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