Summary: I don’t like “if”. If if requires me to do something in order to get something good, I’d rather depend on the certainty of God’s work. God doesn’t require much-all I have to do is continue in the faith Paul serves. That’s easy, right?
A few days ago we talked about our security in Christ. Our salvation and acceptance before God are secure because it is based on Jesus and His work and sacrifice, not on ours. Here Paul presents the other side of the coin of security.
That’s a conditional word. We’re reconciled to God through Christ if . . .
I don’t like “if”. If if requires me to do something in order to get something good, I’d rather depend on the certainty of God’s work. God doesn’t require much-all I have to do is continue in the faith Paul serves. That’s easy, right?
I’m not so sure.
I mean for me it’s easy. God has proved Himself to me so many times and in so many ways that I would be the most reprobate person on the planet if I turned away from His grace. But still, there are so many forces that work against us continuing in the faith. Here are just a few (in no particular order):
1. Popular opinion. It has become popular to either believe that all beliefs are equal, or that the only thing worth believing in is the conclusions of scientific enquiry. Some believe the Christian faith is just another path to salvation and a bunch of other religions have the same destination. This is a popular perspective in this part of the world, where so many religions dominate & Christianity is a minority opinion. Most people respect Jesus, even love him. Many Hindu gurus have put Jesus on their list of gurus and avatars. In Western countries the idea of inclusiveness of people from all faiths and creeds has become a mantra for the equality of all belief systems-two very different conclusions. To say it simply, it has become popular to think badly of those who don’t believe that all belief systems are equally valid. Holding on anything as the Truth in contrast to all others is thought as narrow minded and simplistic.
There is another growing trend round the world, that atheism is the intellectual equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes (if you don’t know the reference, please look it up-it’s a great children’s story with a very adult lesson). Those who don’t see the rational argument for the non-necessity and therefore non-reality of a Supreme Being are painted as simply lacking the cognitive skill or intellectual honesty to deal with the facts. Those who hold to this perspective can be caustic towards those who don’t. This is still a small percentage of people but the fastest growing of such minorities. We underestimate the power of these kinds of trends to our own peril. We cannot help but be impacted by popular opinion. No one likes to be an oddball, even if you know the oddballs are right.
2. Sin. I haven’t heard a sermon on sin in awhile. I keep seeing videos of sermons passed around on social media about our inheritance & prosperity and health & dominion & such, but not much on sin. Sin, the Bible teaches, separates us from God. I think this is related to what we addressed a bit earlier on God’s holiness. When we continue in sin, we are uncomfortable in close proximity to God’s holiness. We can’t help it. It’s not, I think, that God loves us any less when we have sinned. He loved us & died for us while we were sinners (Romans 5). I think it’s simply that when we embrace sin we don’t have any arms left over to embrace Him. As soon as we are in this condition we are open to change our way of believing to match our way of living. We want our behavior to match our ideals. It’s best, no doubt, to always seek to change our behavior to match our ideals. Sometimes it just seems easier however to change our ideals and beliefs to match our behavior. Then we don’t have to deal with the guilt and discomfort of Truth interfering with our choices and desires.
3. Deception. Falsehood is sometimes more attractive than truth. I think of the recent election cycles in several countries around the world. There always seems to be a candidate or party that isn’t all that focused on truth, but they seem to want to do things we agree with. So we vote with the change we want and overlook the lies of the people promising to deliver it. This seems to reflect a fundamental human flaw-one that has allowed tyranny to continue even into the 21st century, and often by free fair democratic elections. We want to believe whatever we think will make our lives easier. Sometimes the Gospel makes life more challenging. The more difficult choice is often the right choice. The decision most abhorrent to our flesh is often the godliest. So, we embrace the lie.