Summary: Faith, submission and obedience go hand in hand
May 9, 2018
Either You Got It or You Don’t
One of the very most important elements of Christianity is the exactness of what God offers and the exactness of how we receive and believe. There is NO wiggle room! There are NO half-truths! It all boils down to how willing we are to believe and absorb what God offers.
Did you pick up on that phrase – what God offers? Always remember that God offers plenty but never forces anything!
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3
Just what gets in the way of our obedience? Potentially, the list is unending. I think some of the top barriers to complete submission and obedience are: Narcissism, Pride, Hedonism, Materialism, and Logic,
“For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:21)
Our humanity and the influence of secular society (sports and entertainment celebrities) draw us to some form of self-indulgence. Am I right? “If it feels good, do it!”
For some, keeping any form of commitment is a struggle.
We make vows at our baptism:
Asked of the one being baptized: “Do you renounce the devil and all his works. The vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that you will not follow nor be led by them?”
Response (VOW): “I renounce them all!”
“I NAME, take thee, NAME, to be my wedded (Wife/Husband) to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. According to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.”
“I promise to remain loyal to you and to love you unconditionally and care for you as long as we both shall live.”
These two vows have proven to be among the most abused and disregarded among professing Christians. I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I will ask you to ask yourself: “Have I ever violated either of these vows?”
Remember that you can lie to yourself, but you cannot lie to God!
“He told me everything I ever did.” Who said that? The Samaritan woman at the well, speaking of God the Son. God knows everything you and I ever did or didn’t do that we should have.
If we cannot keep our vows to each other, can we possibly keep our vows to God?
Thank you, Lord that you are a compassionate, loving, merciful God. Thank you for providing a means of forgiveness and atonement for our sins and especially for breaking our vows to YOU and to each other. The means of forgiveness is in our humble admission and our humble seeking of that forgiveness. The means of atonement has already been made some two thousand years ago on the cross, in the shedding of blood and sacrifice of God the Son.
Can we then therefore, take our vows lightly, knowing that forgiveness is certain should we fail? Thinking like that is, in essence, a violation of trust and an afront to God. Forgiveness, redemption and restoration are provisions for a contrite heart and sincere desire for overcoming.
What John is saying in this reading is directed at “true” faith. Faking faith is tantamount to no faith. Yielding to the temptations of the world and our flesh led temptations is no more than trampling on the faith that we profess.
We don’t like to hear this kind of a message and frankly, I don’t relish preaching it.
Lest you are thinking it, YES, I am as guilty as you and anyone else, to one degree or another. A first step in the restoration process is in admitting our faults and failures and giving them to God. Not in hiding them and pretending to others that they are not nor have been a part of our lives.
Let us pray –
“Almighty God, yes, we are weak, and we have been disobedient to you and have not been totally submissive to your commands. We can never be totally submissive simply by trying to apply our own personal will. We seek your divine guidance and the presence of your Holy Spirit in our day-to-day lives that HE might help us overcome and avoid the same mistakes and failures of the past, in the days to come. Thank you for your mercy and forgiveness and for the atonement of our sins, in the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus the Christ. It is in that name – Jesus, that we pray.” AMEN