2/9/13 Fernando 32
While witnessing at a Burger King, a young man named Fernando described to me a problem many people have when it comes to religion – a roller-coaster relationship with God. “Why is it that God only seems to work in my life when everything is going wrong? When everything is going right I get all proud and God has to do something to put me back in my place”. It seems to me that this is exactly what Jesus was teaching when “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” (Luke 10) They had experienced great success in ministry and were tempted to base their relationship with God on their success. But Jesus returned them back to earth when he told them instead to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven”. When it comes to our initial salvation and the subsequent blessings that follow, we must never forget that simply having our names written in the Book of Life is by far and above the greatest joy we could ever know. There is no comparison! Yet many would disagree, saying too much emphasis is placed on salvation and not enough on our continued walk with the Lord. So why the disagreement? I believe Jesus explained why to the Pharisees, who criticized the excessive gratitude shown by the sinful woman who wiped His feet with her tears. “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7) Was Jesus teaching that the Pharisees sinned less than others? From his extensive criticism of them we know He was not. But somehow they didn’t realize how “utterly sinful” they really were. As I talked with Fernando, I could tell he too had no idea of the extent of his own sin. As a result he also didn’t know what the just punishment for his sin should be. He believed he was saved, but he didn’t know what he was saved from. His focus easily and often shifted to what more the Lord might do for him, rather than what Jesus had already done on the cross. This put him in a steep climb of self-centered pride that could only be controlled by a roller-coaster drop back to reality as the Lord put him in his place. In this condition, one might know how to handle failure, but they can’t possibly handle continued success as their self-centered pride gets in the way. What to do? Our relationship with God must begin and continue with the law of God. We need to compare ourselves to His standard “so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” (Romans 7) We are saved by grace through faith in Christ, but the law will help us to never forget just what it is we are saved from.