If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10: 9

 

This is another of those statements that are found in God’s Word that is essentially very simple; yet, incredibly complex for my mind to actually grasp. Two very straightforward phrases that cut right to the heart of humanity’s reconciliation with our Creator. A basic set of beliefs that can change everything in our lives. A statement of fact that some people accept and that others reject, and it is on this decision that all of eternity rests for each of us. We are either rejoined with God or we are left on our own through the remainder of this life and through all of the next.

 

Yet, even when a person has agreed with these ideas and called upon Jesus to be Savior and Lord of her life, there is still a lifetime of yielding and submitting and being restored that is left to experience. This is where it all gets to be more complex. This is where life continues to be a great journey and even a fabulous adventure to be embraced and entered into fully. I find that surrendering myself and all of my comfortably established patterns of thinking and acting is not as simple as accepting who and what Christ is. That was truly the easy part for me. The hard part is the rest of the story in which I live in a manner that makes it apparent to anyone that Christ is my Lord. Still, as I struggle with life, Christ speaks His presence, His grace, His truth, and His calling to my heart and my mind.

 

In His resurrection from the dead, Christ totally defeated the most powerful force in this world, and in doing that, He demonstrated His complete mastery over all of creation. When we accept Him into our lives His Spirit joins with us and His defeat of the effects of sin and death are now ours. This is a powerful idea to grasp and to embrace as my own. For in Christ I no longer am the victim. I am now a conqueror of the entire burden that Satan and his evil forces have placed onto my back. So as I agree in my heart with the fact that Christ is my Lord and place my fears, doubts, concerns, and selfish motives as personal sacrifices before His healing grace and forgiveness, Christ performs His healing and restorative work in me. He makes the totality of salvation real in my life. Christ not only assures me of an eternal life with God after this one is done, but He literally brings that eternity into my current existence. This is the essential wonder and beauty of living in Christ.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12: 28, 29

 

God does want us to express our gratitude to Him. Yet, He is very different from most of the people that we have known in the way that He would like for us to do this. A nice, hand-written note or even expensive and carefully arranged flowers are meaningless to God. Words of thanksgiving and even those of praise fall far short of bringing joy to God’s heart if they are all we have to offer. Throughout history God has wanted and sought after much more from His people. God seeks our actions before our words, and He desires our hearts before our minds.

 

On view in the verses around these in Hebrews is God’s engagement with Moses and the Israelites during the period of the exodus and also a picture of God’s restorative promise for the time of Christ’s return. The author’s point is that God is unchanging in His engagement with humanity and unyielding in what He desires from us. God desires for people to be committed, surrendered, and submitted totally to Him. We are to bow down our prideful hearts before our Lord in absolute awe at His majesty and grace. Yet, we are also to stand boldly before the world as we proclaim the risen Christ as King and Lord over all.

 

So what is acceptable worship? It is something that is expressed as a liturgy of life. By this I mean that the sort of worship that delights God is spoken by the actions of our days. It is defined in justice granted to all and by grace extended to the least deserving. Worship happens when we grant kindness to our world and as we humbly accept it. God is delighted when we confess our wrongs to Him and to those we have harmed, and He is joyous as we turn from our sinfulness and grant His Spirit access to our darkest recesses so that God’s righteous fire of truth can purify and restore our hearts. Worship is a life lived in active submission to God’s will, and this is a life that is highly acceptable to God.

Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

1 Timothy 6: 1

 

Who do you know who is not required to submit to the authority of someone else? Almost everyone on this earth is in a position where there are others who have the ability and even the responsibility to give us direction and orders, and whose position places us within the influence of their power. Their skill and approach to exercising that power is important to us in how well the relationship works, but the skill set and personality of our master is not the critical issue in God’s view of how these interactions should go.

 

Christ calls upon His followers to trust Him. There is no conditional nature to this call to trust. It also encompasses everything that we are about in life. No area of endeavor or arena of involvement is left out; for Christ is lord over all and He grants favor to us as fits His will and plan. When we are committed from the heart to trusting God absolutely, there is no longer any room for us to take personal offense or to fear for the outcome of situations. Yet in our relentless humanity there will always be times when others will treat us badly, and we will turn around and hurt or harm people in the course of living as well. This reality doesn’t change anything about trusting Christ in these situations. In fact, it is this sort of totally yielded spirit that is needed when things are not going well.

 

When we can set aside the hurts, betrayals, and loss that we have encountered in our past experiences, we are ready to engage in honest and vulnerable dialogue with others. It seems that many of the challenged and stressed relationships that we encounter involve situations where we are operating under someone else’s authority or leadership. When someone has either official or perceived power over us it can be difficult to be real and honest while remaining respectfully submitted to that leadership. Fears and concerns weight us down with their heavy protective covering. Anger and frustration bind our hearts and suppress Christ’s loving truth from gaining control of our emotions. So, our Lord says that we are to trust Him. We are to set aside all of the negative concerns and humbly engage the relationship. In these hardest of all situations, our attitudes and responses can become the pole upon which Christ is lifted up and His glory prevails.

For the scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:11

 

The Apostle Paul quotes the Prophet Isaiah and speaks to a fundamental concern that people have had forever. We get so caught up in trying to always be right that we don’t do what is most needful in order to live right. We are focused on the risk of disappointment, on becoming disenchanted, and on our image with others; so, we don’t want to put all of our trust and the totality of our reliance on God. Yet, He does respond to everything that we need, and He does it in a manner that is both constant and consistent. Everyone and everything else that I have ever relied on has had its moments of failure or disappointment. Christ has never come up short for me.

 

When these writers speak about believing, they are not talking about just recognizing the existence of God, and they are not even considering that this means the mere acceptance of Jesus as Savior; although, that is a part of what Paul is saying. They are telling us that the path to a day by day life that is lived in confident victory over all of the aspects of slavery that evil tries to bind us into is paved with our own acceptance of Christ as Lord of our lives. When Jesus is the true center of existence, there is no longer any shame. There is only a continual path that leads deeper and further into His glory. The rub for me and for most people is in setting and maintaining Christ in that position as lord and master of all of my life. Yet there is no one and nothing that I can surrender all to who will love and care for me perfectly and totally.

 

Christ is the sort of loving master who frees us to be and to do what we have been given gifts, talents, and interests in. He desires for each of us to utilize our individuality in engaging our world by serving the needs of others. Believing means doing, it means turning over control, and it means acceptance of the outcome regardless of our own anticipation. When we believe, we know that God will always take us where He needs for us to go, and He will always lead us to places where we will be able to show someone else the way to victory over life through Christ. When we trust God and allow Him to direct, lead, and empower our daily lives, there is absolutely no way that we will be left alone wondering why we made that choice. To quote the voices of ancient wisdom, “We will not be put to shame.”