I have been re-reading Exodus with a view to teaching on Wed. nights through the book. I am constantly moved by the difference between law and grace - I should say vastdifference. Seems to me that the law dealt with the sinner, whereas grace deals with the sin. In the Old Testament, the sinner was blotted out of the book, in the New Testament our sins are blotted out. It is just too really awesome that I have been born into the New Testament era. I can't comprehend those who want to try to live by the law, keep the commandments, honor the diet, etc. of the Old Testament. Why do some want to glorify the things of the old worship, instead of rejoicing in the spirit of the new worship. We still want icons and pictures and things to hold and creeds to say. But we get to come to God by a new and living way. It just causes the old to pale, unless trappings and things are more important.
I was dwelling on the two parts of our redemption the other day: relationship and fellowship. Not much can be done about the relationship part. "For by one Spirit are you all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12). Once we express our will to be redeemed, the redemption process is out of our hands. It is the Lord's doings. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5).
The part of our redemption that I was thinking about was fellowship. Fellowship is a graduated experience. For instance, I could have a brother in California whom I never see. He is forever my brother (not my doings or his, but our father's) in relationship. But we have no fellowship. Let's say he returns to Oklahoma, to a town near me. We can renew our fellowship. It is by our mutual choice. The closeness of our fellowship is determined by us.
Romans 12:1,2 seems to me to be all about fellowship. "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." The more we bring our minds in line with the Word of God, the greater is our fellowship with him. As we think like He thinks, act like He acts, and speak like He speaks, we grow closer. "Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you" (James 4:8). It may not be easy, but it certainly is worthwhile.
"Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His (relationship),' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity (fellowship)'" (2 Tim. 2:19).
I was thinking this morning of the wonderful experience I had Sunday morning. With Judy's nudging, I realized that we have 6 young adults at Grandview Tab that weren't getting any special attention. So I called them all and told them that I was creating a special Sunday School class just for them (donuts, milk, orange juice, etc.). They all seemed excited about the possibility. Sunday morning came and I had 8 young adults in the class. Wow! Some of the original 6 brought friends. We had a really good class. The premise of the class is to let the students talk about what is of importance in their life at the moment. They did! And the cardinal rule of the class is, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Anonymity is a powerful tool! Between SS and the morning worship hour, we discovered 2 more young adults that will be with us next Sunday!!
This brings me to one of my life scriptures (not the major one, but one of the secondary ones). "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." Now the conundrum is this. We are to labor in the building of the house, but it is the Lord who builds it. Here is a challenge for any person. Build only what you see the Lord building. (Jesus said it like this: I only do what I see my Father doing.) As a pastor, I can tell you that this is a tough thing. Seeing what the Lord is building is, as Shakespeare says, "where the rub comes in." I am not very successful at it, but even that is a help. I can tell others that it is okay to mess up. And it is. Proverbs says the righteous man falls 7 times, but he always gets up. It isn't in the falling, it is in the getting up. Or as someone in the modern age has said, "it isn't how you start, but how you finish."
Paul said, "I have finished my course...", so I encourage you to work on the finish and forget how you started. If you have fallen, get up. If you haven't fallen, keep your eyes on Jesus and build what he is building.