Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Stand next to a straight line

Socrates said that the best way to tell if a line is crooked is to put a straight line next to it. So likewise, if we want to see how we're doing morally, we need to compare our thoughts and actions to those straight lines laid down by God--His moral principles. The Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; but see verse 24, where we read that we are justified freely by His grace, through Christ--that's how the gap is closed!!). So I'm not talking about entering heaven because I acted more morally than others. Our good deeds should come from a heart's desire to do so (as Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we might walk in them").

The terrorists and their leaders have used a very crooked line to compare their thoughts and deeds to. I hope that most of us who have moments of hatred or lust or greed experience regret over allowing those sins to overtake us. I have felt justified and have even enjoyed such moments, I'm ashamed to say. But the Lord's presence in me (you may remember I wrote about the Holy Spirit's indwelling being our conscience) has helped me regret such times. I don't look back on those moments and say to myself, "Boy, I feel so proud of myself." There's shame, embarrassment, anger, and so on.

But when people or groups promote such behavior, and continue to revel in it, there is something wrong. Something evil is at the core. I know I'm weak in certain areas. I don't always want to do the right thing. So I seek prayer, accountability, fellowship, encouragement. And I know that to forsake God and pursue my own agenda could lead my heart to become hardened so that I might not want Him in my life. I have experienced moments where I felt distant from God, where I didn't care what I did. And they have been among the most miserable times in my life. I'm so thankful for those people who love me and care enough to keep me in prayer. They are indispensable to my hope.

If you enjoy those things that the Lord says are an abomination (like hatred, greed, lust, envy, oppression, and prejudice), I pray that the Lord changes your heart, because you have such hope with Him, and can only experience deep despair without Him. Don't believe the lies about the Lord being always angry, or oppressive, or dull. There is love, joy, hope, power, and peace in Christ. I have personally experienced it, and He wants you to as well, no matter what you've done. Just humble yourself and admit you have offended Him. Accept His free offer to come into your heart and give you a totally new spiritual life. I promise it will be the most wonderful thing you've done. If you are willing to do so, please let me know and I'll pray for you.

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