04-26-15 Basic Training: Lovestice

We’re in the home stretch for the school year, and -- as a parent of a high school senior -- I can tell you that the kids are ready to be done.  So what about you parents?

What I mean is, are you ready for the Summer with your kids?

Maybe your children will be involved in Little League, or maybe they’ll have a Summer job, or maybe -- like my daughter -- they’ll be preparing to go off to college in the Fall.  But for all of them, these next couple of months are going to be a very welcome departure from school.

But what does that give you a chance as a parent to teach them?  No, I don’t mean that you should do the very same sorts of classroom lessons that they’re excited to get away from.  I mean that you have the opportunity to connect with your family in healthy, interactive, educational ways during the Summer that you simply don’t have time for during the school year, what with homework, football practice, Scholastic Bowl meets, whatever.

Most of us tend to see the Summer as a vacation time, and it surely is.  Have a great time with that.  But it’s also a time for you to roll up your sleeves, engage with your family on a genuinely personal level, and help one another grow more and more into the people whom God is sculpting you all to become.

So will your kids be more consciously, more actively God-shaped, once September rolls around?  Will you?  Or will you all just take three months off and come back with a nicer tan?  Preparing your hearts to hit the ground running this Summer starts right now...

In our message this week, we continued looking at the Book of Romans as Paul’s Basic Training for Christians -- preparing our hearts and minds to know why we fight the good fight for Christ in this broken world.  And it is a fight -- this world is a blackened battlefield, darkened by sin, and the battle doesn’t take the Summer off.  Too often, our eyes have simply gotten so used to the darkness that we don’t see things that way.  We just think that that’s the way things are, and we polish up the grubby bits to give ourselves the false sense that it’s actually a rather pretty place, if you hold things just right and squint really hard.  In fact, we’ll even sometimes feel prideful because we define “clean” as “less grubby than the next guy,” and decide that we really don’t need much of God’s detergent in our lives.

In chapter 3, Paul shares why he appreciates his Judaism, but reiterates that none of that is going to save him.  He quotes verse after verse from the Old Testament, showing that even the people of God (Jews, Christians, whomever) screw things up on a regular basis, so how could we put out confidence in how well we do the stuff that we do?  How can we call ours lives pristine, simply because we’re less grubby than the next guy?  And how can we say that we’re “more or less good enough” if we’re still grubby?  Does God do “more or less good enough” -- ever?

No, we don’t fight to uphold a Christian standard (because, quite frankly, we stink at doing that).  Nor do we fight to defend our faith (because God does that far better than we do).  Nor do we fight to hold onto our faith (because no one else can take it from you).

No, we fight for God’s lovestice -- His love and His justice, so totally and completely intertwined that to try to separate them would leave only our own, twisted, limited, flawed, human versions of love (i.e.; shallow affection) or justice (i.e.; vindictive punishment).  God says that He knows absolutely, precisely how grubby you and I truly are inside of ourselves... and that He loves and totally forgives us.  He had the justice to demand fulfilling the Law that we all agreed to follow, but He had the love to do the fulfilling for us, since we stink at it.  Thus, He doesn’t just pass over our sins (like He passed over the houses in Egypt) -- He washes them away and makes us completely and totally clean.

So that means that when we fight, we don’t fight against sinners in this broken, sinful world -- we fight for sinners in this broken, sinful world... because that’s who we are.  We’re just forgiven sinners, and God fought for us, to change us and to wash us clean.

This world is a blackened battlefield, darkened by sin.  God has handed you and me the only light in this whole world, and has asked us to hold it high, every day -- Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. 

How can you lift that lamp high right now, today?