Yesterday I spent several hours in planning sessions for exciting new ministries that are about to launch at my church. After my last meeting with a group of three other women, we walked into the hallway outside of the church library and our Pastor greeted us and inquired about our progress.
I chimed in… “It was extremely productive. We have successfully solved all of the problems of the world! It’s all about keeping things simple.”
I don’t know that those were my exact words. You might think that was irreverent or smarty-pants to say to a Pastor…but I was just playing…but not really.
A few weeks ago I lost a small book that we are reading at church for Wednesday night pre-service discussion. The book is called The Indwelling Life of Christ All of Him in All of Me by Major W. Ian Thomas. I found it today, so I picked it up to scan back through what I had read and underlined and this is what I saw…
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”2 Corinthians 11:3
Exactly what I meant, of course, when I was speaking with the women and our Pastor after our ministry planning session!
Can you see it too….? THE SIMPLICITY that is (in) CHRIST.
“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
That’s it. It is that simple.
God is that simple too. He gave that same law through Moses in Deuteronomy 6… But first, what does it mean to “Fear the Lord”? Does that bring up a vision of God with a rod or a whip or armed guards ready to beat and torture and escort you away from God’s Holy presence? If we accept that God is the Creator of all things…we can not help but feel tiny and insignificant in His presence. If we believe that God became a man not to just tell us, but to show us how to live…that He laid down all of His Power and Omniscience to truly be like us…should we not feel humble and amazed at that kind of care and concern and love…that He wanted to know everything about our day-to-day lives? If we understand that God, through Jesus, lived as a servant instead of a master and did not put himself above anyone, but called his disciples and followers friends . Who is this God that doesn’t want to Rule and Demand and Manipulate and Coerce ….but wants us to have a relationship with Him… where we choose…where we want to live for Him…because it is right. Because it make our life have meaning and purpose. Because we love Him…and that is what we were created for. To love Him and to love each other. It is that simple.
Respect and Reverence….Awe and Wonder…Thankfulness that we should mean anything to the Creator of everything. And yet we do. We mean everything to Him. He should mean everything to us too.
Our fear should come because we are nothing and He is everything…and yet He wants us. He knows how many hairs are on my head. And yours. If we were asked to go into His Royal Chamber and have an Audience with the KING of KINGS and the LORD of LORDS…would you not tremble? Would you not be afraid? He knows every thought in our head…every thing that we have done. And He loves us anyway. And as long as we continue to fear Him because He is so great and we are so unworthy…if we accept all that He has done… accept that it was all done so that we could be His and live forever with Him…then we should never be afraid. We should never live in terror. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8.
Revere God. Respect God. Acknowledge all that He has done for all of us. Tremble in His presence because He is Great and we are not. Fear Him because He is God. But do not be afraid like one who lives in darkness. We are children of Light and LOVE.
“If God is with us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
Moses tells God’s chosen people “These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you… so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life….
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
When the Lord your God brings you into …a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord…
Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you…
In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves…”
I shortened the passage that you can read in its entirety. But it is really this simple…we were slaves. Slaves to our own selfishness. We lived our lives for our own sake and for our own pleasure and for our own reward. Jesus taught us that is not living at all. That is a black hole…emptiness because God is nowhere in that kind of life, it leads to death. That isn’t what we are made for.
Don’t believe that your life is your own. It is a gift. It is not to be kept securely in a bank or in a closet or on a shelf…it is a gift that is supposed to be used everyday. If it gets worn out and used up…in service and by other’s, then awesome! Then it has not been wasted.
Jesus says in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” and “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
The problems of the world can be solved…It is simple. If Jesus lives in us…our reason, our purpose, our mission may not be clear or easy. But it is simple. Simplify. Let go of fear and worry…then it won’t matter if things aren’t clear because we will have faith that we are on the right path. And if it isn’t easy then that is fine because with every challenge we have an opportunity to learn about ourselves and how to help others who find themselves with the same challenges. It’s all good. Don’t make it more difficult than it has to be. Find peace…let Jesus dwell in us…let the Holy Spirit guide us. Thank You to God for making it all so simple.
Love God. Love each other. That’s all.