Listen to this if you are struggling with life. Really. Listen.
If you’re in the U.S., I’ll bet you are just really enjoying this political season, aren’t you? Everybody is just lovingly and happily exchanging ideas on their favorite candidates with tolerance and thoughtfulness. It’s a joy to witness, isn’t it?
What? That’s not what you’re seeing? Yeah. Me neither. There is so much rancor and vitriol going around that I can hardly stand to be on FB, Instagram or any other social media. It’s really disturbing. People that used to be friends are fighting and calling names. It’s sad.
When I was younger, before computers and certainly before social media, there was a custom that discussing politics and religion was poor form. Do you remember that? Why do you suppose that custom existed? Sure. Avoid those topics and you avoid the major causes of fights. But now that we can “share” our opinions from the safety of our keyboards or mobile devices, it seems that getting into fights is the new favorite passtime. Personally, I hate it.
And so did the Apostle Paul. As he was closing his second letter to the Corinthians, he wrote: “Last of all, Christian brothers, good-bye. Do that which makes you complete. Be comforted. Work to get along with others. Live in peace.”
Notice his language there. He said *work* to get along with each other. The implication is that it isn’t always easy to get along. I love my wife, the Lovely Lady LeeAnn more than life itself. Really. That’s not an overstatement. If she were suddenly taken from me, I would have a hard time finding a reason to get up in the morning. Yes, of course I know that my relationship with Jesus is more important, and His calling for me is to be more than a husband, but you know what I mean. But the point is that even with LeeAnn, it is sometimes *work* to get along with her. That’s normal. That’s expected. No two people are *ever* going to easily get along 24/7.
But Paul said that we are to *work* to get along with our brothers and sisters. What happens then? We live in peace. Now, who doesn’t want that?
What does that mean for us in this political season? Personally, I have chosen to restrain myself on social media. Sure, I have very strong opinions. But I will not add to the negativity that is so prevalent online. Believe me, it isn’t always easy to do. But I would rather keep the doors of friendship open, and therefore the doors of opportunity to share Jesus with someone who needs Him when the Holy Spirit tells me it’s time to do so, than destroy that opportunity by posting my political opinions. Let’s face it…very few, if any, minds are changed in a FB argument. Right?
“Work to get along with others. Live in peace.”
Do you have a favorite place? Someplace on the planet that you think about when you wish you could just get away from it all? Someplace where you are both relaxed and excited at the same time?
For me, that place is a little campsite in the Yosemite wilderness. It’s a place nestled in where the Merced river takes a gentle 09 degree turn on its way down to the Yosemite valley. I love to sit, in my mind’s eye, just at that corner, amidst the pine trees, as the Stellar’s Jays call out and the occasional brown trout jumps out of the gently flowing water chasing a mosquito for dinner. Since it is in the wilderness, this spot is well away from the crushing crowds of tourists who never leave the paved paths of the valley. Only backpackers get to see this area. It’s a peaceful spot, and oh so exciting at the same time because so relatively few get to enjoy this place.
That’s how I feel about Romans, chapter four. Peaceful and excited. I love to read this chapter. The excitement comes first, for me. How can you *not* be excited to read, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Wait. What? All he did was believe God, and God credited him with righteousness??? Really? You mean old Abe didn’t have to go slay a dragon or kill 100 bulls or starve himself for a month or, or, or? He just believed God?
Yeah. That’s it.
You say that can’t be right. Surely he did something. Nope. Listen. “Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.”
Abraham faith was credited as righteousness. Not his work, because that would have been a payment of obligation.
Well, you heard the chapter. Paul went into a fair amount of detail…all of it good. And it is all so exciting to see that it is not works that earns righteousness.
And that’s a good thing, keeping in mind what Paul wrote in chapter three. You know, where he said, “There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is on one who show kindness, not even one.”
But back here in chapter four, we get the good news that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. What’s good about that? The closing sentences tell us, “ But the statement it was credited to him was not written only for Abraham’ssake, 24 but also for our sake, to whom it will be credited, those who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was given over because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification.”
This is the part of the chapter that gives me peace. I’m excited that God’s plan for man is so incredibly generous. Believe and be righteous. I find infinite peace in the knowledge that this lavish grace is extended to me and to you. When we really begin to grasp this truth, there is nothing that can steal your peace.