Monday, October 25, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

"then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." -Genesis 2.7

The Great and Mighty God who has just formed the universe by the power of His words is now breathing life into a pile of dirt. This contrast between divinity and humanity is strikingly manifest in these moments of man's formation. Our emergence into this world is modest indeed.

"By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." -Genesis 3.19

The fragile nature of man has been made apparent ever since the immediate aftermath of his Fall. Every man and woman who has preceded us has experienced the stark reality of his or her own finiteness. We cannot escape the fact that we will all die. And so we distract ourselves with the pleasures of the moment hoping to forget our mortality. Fools that we are! It is time to come to grips with reality. The truth is that we are not invincible no matter how strong we may believe ourselves to be. The fantastic discoveries that we have made in our scientific studies pale in comparison to our utter lack of understanding of these very things. As our knowledge grows, so too does our awareness of that which we do not comprehend.

As Christians we delude ourselves in regards to our own strength and ability. We tend to make it our goal to 'be better' but this only reveals our lack of understanding. Do not the Scriptures declare that we are "new creations"? What could we possibly do to make ourselves 'better'? We fail to realize that God cares more about who we are than about what we do. He does not command the sinner to do good works and live righteously in order to earn salvation. Scriptures reveal that man has nothing, in and of himself, that deserves or obligates God to do anything good for him. It is on this foundational truth that we understand the grace of God - the provision of His Son as a payment for the debt which we owed. If we did not deserve this yet were given it, how can we seek to earn God's acceptance as His child when He has already given us the greatest gift of all?

We make vows and commitments to live godly but are misguided in our motive. The truth is all that will protect us from sinful desire. We must first know the truth if we are to believe it. It is to be noted that these are NOT one and the same. We may know the truth, yet fail, or even refuse, to believe it (see Rom 1.19-20). The nature of faith is confidence, reliance, and trust. It is not conjecture, speculation, or presumption. Attempting to keep the rules never worked for the Israelites; let us learn from their example! God has not declared us morally obligated but perfectly justified. We have already been accepted by Him as His children so let us not spurn His acceptance by seeking to earn it.

A great truth that I have been thinking much about is that God understands us and our weaknesses. In fact, He desires those weaknesses to be used as manifestations of His power (see 2 Cor 12.9). He does not demand instantaneous change nor does He expect perfection. However, He does require us to be faithful with what He has given us to the extent to which we are able. Any normal parent does not expect their 3 month old son to take the garbage out. They understand that the capacity for responsibility grows with maturity. God deals with us in the same manner. Be faithful with what you have been give and rest in the fact that God is continuously at work within you.

"As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust."
-Psalm 103.13-14