Owe no one anything except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Romans 13: 8

The daily news has been shouting at us for quite a while now so that almost everyone is fully aware that there is a “Debt Crisis” in our world. Our governments have entered into obligations that can’t be met with the available resources. Individuals continue to spend money that they don’t have and that they have no real hope of ever seeing. We also incur debt in many other ways, for we make commitments and we enter into relational obligations that we really have very little intention of meeting. As we try to keep pace with our culture we are driving our personal and our societal balance sheets deeper and deeper into the red.

Christ wants us to stop. Stop writing the checks, discontinue the charging, and put a hold on the new commitments. He wants us to step out of the swirling masses that are flocking to the newest and the most exciting of sales events. He tells us to get on our knees and to seek His face in prayerful submission to the wonder and the power of truth. In those moments of quiet meditation God’s Word and His Spirit will speak. When knowing God’s heart is the desired outcome, He will reveal the truth of what is real love. Christ demonstrated it for us every day of His life in this world. God has been relating to people from the perspective of love for all of our history. We are called by God to respond to Him by loving Him with such totality of being that we can do little else except to love other people as Christ does.

This is an ideal, and the life of absolute and total love is not an easy one to accomplish. It wasn’t easy for Jesus in that it required Him to set aside His position and its glory and to sacrifice all to do it; yet, that was what He did in response to God’s expressed desire. God’s expressed desire for me and for you is the same. He wants us to live in the simplicity of righteousness. He tells us to stop entering into agreements that bind our hearts and our minds to impossibly heavy burdens of debt. Christ leads us down a road that takes us into a state of being that transcends this world and its earthly obligations and that brings us into the place where we are dwelling in the perspective of the Father. In God’s economy we are indebted only to Him, and He requires that our payments be made in loving interaction with our world.    

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These things we have heard from Christ and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

1 John 1: 5

 

It has been my experience that darkness is sneaky. It can overcome a perfectly bright day with a suddenness that is disorienting. At other times it just slowly and subtly moves into my mind and my heart until all of the clear vision that was present has been obscured by its dark curtains of ambiguity. Ideas that were solid, actions that appeared to be righteous, and a path that seemed to lead me along sound footing can become distorted and shrouded with doubt. This is the effect that Satan wants to have on us, and this process of bringing darkness into our lives is one of his favorite devices.

 

Yet, when the path through life starts getting murky and doubts about what is good and righteous begin to swirl in my mind, this is a true sign that I am trying to figure it all out on my own and that I am not fully seeking God’s will and His desire as I set my course through my day. As I head out into the dark corners of this world, places where there is great need for Christ and for His true light, forces that are oriented toward darkness do attempt to cause confusion and distress in my mind and in my heart. Still, I cling to the fact that where God is, there is light. When Christ is leading, the path is well lit. If I am seeking to know and understand Christ through His Word and by the revelation of His Spirit, the Lord’s glory will surround me.

 

Based upon this fact, I should examine each and every aspect of my life where truth and love do not overcome fear and anger, and I need to continue to look for that truth in God’s Word until all of the thoughts and the actions that I engage in conform to His righteousness. For the closer I am to Christ, the more I will be standing in the center of the source of all light; and the longer I stay in this light, the more my heart will be transformed into a light filled vessel, which will lead me confidently into the way of the Lord’s brilliant truth.

 

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

But with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 11: 2

 

This is not intended to be a comment on the political climate of our world, but it probably could be. There is enough pride and ego afoot on the campaign trail to fill a thousand hot air balloons with wind left over to propel them along. Yet, before I start pointing at others and calling out their weakness, I should look at myself and ask God to reveal my own arrogance, ego, and pride. It seems that this is one of those areas in life where there can be a very fine line between what is healthy and good and that which damages relationships and leads to self-absorbed and harmful thinking.

 

It is often very difficult to accurately assess my own thinking and actions. I may believe that I am functioning out of a foundation of truth and conviction when, in fact, it is my pride that is speaking. Because it is difficult to look upon myself and honestly perceive my motives and the impact of what I am doing, I need God’s wisdom and revelation to show me the truth about myself. This truth comes by way of several sources. God’s Word is a story of humility and engagement. In it I find described in vivid detail the way that the Lord desires that I would think and act. Through it, in prayer and meditation, I am counseled, directed, and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. God literally speaks to my heart and transforms the thought processes that lead to my actions in daily life.

 

Even with the eternal counsel of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, I require more in order to live in the fullness of God’s design and intent. As God is relational, so are people. God counsels us to follow Him in the context of fellowship with others who also know Him. When it comes to receiving honest input into the righteousness of my actions and the holiness of my thinking, no one is better qualified to provide such input than people who know and follow Christ and with whom I am in regular worshipful fellowship. Pride is dangerous, yet confidence is essential for living boldly in this world; so, Christ leads His people into the essential balance between the these two often competing human characteristics.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12: 11

 

Everyone experiences a hard day when what we are attempting, either by our own wish or under compulsion, defeats our ability and will. This sort of thing happens in gym classes, when learning a musical instrument, or while attempting to follow complex directions. These situations are stressful and often embarrassing. However, it is much worse when the issues that we are dealing with involve a collision between the way that we have always thought and acted and the life that God is calling us to live. The impact that occurs at these times can jar the teeth from our heads and fill our world with wreckage.

 

Yet it is in order to avoid these disastrous situations that we endure the sore muscles and the tired minds that result from the hard work of training. Additionally, the discipline of the training that Christ leads His people into is the hardest of all. For it requires that we turn away from ideas and habits that have formed our identities from the earliest days of our lives. Then we are asked to retrain ourselves to act out of the righteousness and the love that God provides while leaving behind the false strength of our former competencies.

 

However, at the end of the day, when I look back at what Christ has done in my life, I can relax and be at peace with where my heart and my mind have come in my journey of growing in the grace of the Lord. My life is very far short of perfection. In fact, it seems to have just started its travels along this road called glory. Yet, as I put my weary feet up and lay my head down for rest, most of the time I can thank God and praise Him for the way that He has successfully guided me through all that has come my way so that I have caused little damage and often have accomplished some good in Christ’s name. So, here is the reward for sticking with Christ’s hard driving program, a good night’s rest in the peaceful certainty that I have done my best to know God, to hear His voice, and to follow His will.