Adult Bible Fellowships (ABFs) at Reston Bible Church are mid-sized groups that meet regularly for fellowship and to encourage one another around in-depth study of God’s Word. The groups have quality teaching based on Scripture, led by men with a gift for presenting God’s Word in an interesting and engaging way.
To get more information and register for our Fall 2011 offerings, please visit www.restonbible.org/classes
The RBC leadership is thankful for the many who were able to attend last weekend’s RE:NEW conference with Ed Welch. As a help to you were (and were not) able to attend, here is a list of most of the Scriptures Dr. Welch referenced in his sessions. The beauty and power of the Word of God cannot be overstated, so great is the power of committing Scripture to memory. We pray you will commit these to memory; they are vital tools in our battles with fear, worry, and anxiety.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Genesis 26:24)
“Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you where ever you; he will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10).
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 43:1)
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:14-16)
“Peace be with you.” (John 20:19, 21)
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper (alongside of one), to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth. …He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.” (John 14:16ff.)
The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
A new year is symbolic in many ways. It is commonly a time when we look back and reflect on the past year, while also looking ahead in anticipation at the year to come. We make resolutions and set goals; it is a time to refocus, renew, recalibrate. The new year is often bittersweet mixture of shame and thankfulness, regret and hope. Our reflections and anticipations during this time will often set the tone for the months ahead.
There’s something about “newness” that attracts us – whether in regard to a new year, a new job, a new car, a new gadget, a new relationship, etc. With a new thing, there’s always some level of fresh hope (and probably an undercurrent of “THIS will be the thing that really satisfies me!”) But it always goes the same way, doesn’t it? The “new” wears off – the new thing eventually just becomes the thing, and so we move on to the next new thing.
As I have been thinking through that process in my own life, I have been reminded of the centrality of the Gospel. Most of us are likely familiar with these words from Luke 2:10-11: And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Those verses provide a two-line summary of the Gospel:
1.) The Gospel is good news for the joy of all people.
2.) The Lord – the Creator God of the universe – is the Christ who comes to Earth to save.
While there is much more you can say about the Gospel than this, there is not less. The Gospel is beautiful in its simplicity, majestic in its depth, and completely unique in its purpose. There is no greater truth than the Gospel. God was kind to remind me of the centrality of the Gospel in the form of a question that has tugged at the corners of my heart and mind for the last couple of weeks – Has the “newness” of the Gospel worn off for you?
I find it common within most churches to think of the Gospel as only for non-believers, or to consider the Gospel “kindergarten Christianity.” I often fight in my own heart and mind to keep from considering the Gospel as remedial, something to move past so I can get on to something more interesting. Early in my own process of coming to know Jesus as Savior, I saw the Gospel as something new and beautiful and exiting – but there are plenty of times now when I catch myself treating it as though it were something primarily for other people.
Paul writes in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” This is a verse we tend to think of in terms of evangelism, and rightly so. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus in terms of sharing it with those who do not know its great truths. However, this verse is just as applicable for Christ-followers. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel in our own daily lives.
What does it look like to be ashamed of the Gospel in such a manner? I can think of at least two ways:
- By treating it in thought and action as though it were no longer something we need. The Gospel is not something we come to terms with once, then move on to something greater, deeper, or more useful.
- By failing to consciously apply the Gospel to our lives every single day. We should daily preach to ourselves the Gospel with the goal of aligning our lives with Christ, to whom the Gospel takes us. The trajectory of our lives should be constant, joyful struggle to align our lives with His by working out the practical applications of the Gospel in every area of thought and action.
Reflecting on Gospel-centrality in a right way will always lead us to the person and work of Jesus. Christ is the whole point of the Gospel – without Him, there is no Gospel. Jesus is the good news that came to earth; God as a baby who grew into a man, lived a life we should have lived (but could not), died a death we should have died (but could not) to a penalty we should have paid (but could not). To those that believe that as good news, it is the power of God for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. This is not a message that gets old.
Has the “newness” of the Gospel worn off for you? Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that the mercies of God are new every day, and I can think of no clearer portrait of the mercies of God that the Gospel. May God grant us the grace to see our need for the Gospel every day and the strength to preach it to ourselves daily. May He keep us from the foolishness of thinking we can ever get past the Gospel. May our daily appropriation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be a constant reminder that this is not a message that ever gets old.
Jon Foreman wrote a song based on Psalm 23 called The House of God, Forever. Great song. His lyrics echo the final verse of the Psalm – “I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” It also reminds me of Psalm 84, which begins like this – “How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD … Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
Whether you get really excited about Christmas, really depressed, or somewhere in the middle, I think our reaction is tied in some way to this idea of being in the house of God, being in the presence of the Divine. Our reaction to Christmas is somehow linked to our innate longing to experience relationship with the God we were created to worship.
Maybe you’re a person who gets really excited about Christmas – you love the aspect of family gatherings, of giving gifts, of special traditions. My guess is the reason we love these things so much is that in a broken world, these are glimpses that point you toward something that is hardwired into the human heart – a longing to be in the house of God, where all is right.
Maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum – Christmas for whatever reason drains you, makes you depressed, highlights a very personal sense of loneliness. it’s the flip side of the same coin – it points you to the fact that things are not as they should be; there is an unfulfilled longing to be in the house of God, where all is right.
Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, let me say this: we are made for something more than what we experience here on Earth. In every heart is a yearning to be in the house of God – to be united in relationship with our Creator. But in every heart is a tension, a disconnect, some level of frustration because we all know that things are not quite as they should be. There is something about Christmas that highlights this in some way for each of us.
The familiar icon of a manger scene reminds us that many people celebrate Christmas as a birthday – the birth of Jesus Christ. Birthdays are special days not because of the day itself, but what that day represents. Your birthday, for example, is not just about a number on a calendar. A birthday represents more than just a day, a moment; it celebrates more than just an event, an occurrence. Birthdays are special because they represent an individual life; a birthday means something because it celebrates a person.
This is true for each of us, and infinitely and gloriously true of Jesus. December 25 is a date that holds no lasting value apart from the Person that it celebrates – Jesus. As we experience the longing to be in the house of God and deal with the tension/disconnect that things are not as they ought to be – it is Christ who is the key to fulfilling that basic longing. It is Jesus and Jesus alone who bridges that gap between us and God.
So Christmas is not at its core a celebration of a day or a season or a tradition. It is a celebration of a Person: the Person of Jesus Christ, who alone opens the doors to the house of God for us. You and I simply do not have the ability to overcome the gap between our own brokenness and the God we were meant to worship. There could never be enough we could ever become or do or say or give or feel that would make things right between us and a perfect God. This is why Jesus came, and why we celebrate Him above all else. There is no one like Him. He opens the doors to the house of God for us.
Christmas is a time that we celebrate something that is true all year long – that God came to earth, born as a humble baby, grew into a man, lived a life we could never live, died a death we could never die to pay a penalty we could never pay. Those who would believe that and trust Him by faith will be able to live and love and worship in the house of God forever, where all is right.
Christmas is not just about a day, an event, a singular occurrence. It is about a Person – Jesus Christ. Lord. Savior. Friend. He is both imminent and exalted – Emmanuel – God With Us. This Christmas and in all the days beyond, may we celebrate more than a day, a season, a tradition. May we celebrate the Person of Jesus Christ. There is no one like Him.
How many times in life have you been told that you are making a big deal out of something that is very small? We often refer to this as “making a mountain out of a mole hill.” But is it not possible that we are just as guilty of making mole hills out of mountains? How often do we say “It’s no big deal” when in fact it is a very big deal? Consider these words from scripture:
“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3)
If we took this mountain seriously, what would we have to remove from our TV diet? Are these little mole hills punctuated throughout the landscape of God’s word, or are they monstrous mountain ranges strategically placed for our protection? To say it’s no big deal what I read or what I watch is to say that Jesus was making a mountain out of a mole hill. I don’t think we want to go there.
What about the poor? The scriptures are replete about caring for the poor, yet it seems to have fallen into the mole hill category. What did our Savior say about materialism?
“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke12:15, NIV)
I realize the list could go on and on, and I am well aware that a form of legalism looms when we see these as performance issues so that God will love us more. Mountains are in the Bible as a gift from God so that we may live life to the fullest, which is in direct opposition to earning His love. The church in our western society has fallen prey to calling holiness legalism. I don’t write this from the standpoint of pastor-to-flock, but from my own personal battle of having seen mountains become mole hills. I guess you could say I have been taking inventory to see if I am truly growing in grace and not legalism.
Would you be willing to see if your life is measuring up to His teachings? You will be glad you did, for I prefer mountains to mole hills any day.
The older I get, the more aware I become that life is all about Jesus Christ and not about me. The older I get, the sharper my focus on eternity becomes. The older I get, the more I see life as it really is. We should all grow wiser with age because the Scriptures tell us to do so “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our heart unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). This prayer by the Psalmist should be ours as well. He sees every day as a learning experience and does not want to lose one moment of instruction from the guiding eye of Jehovah.
Instruction is all around us, but we must be wise and understanding students. We must be attentive to the details for nothing happens without a sovereign purpose, from the falling of the sparrow to the devastation of a hurricane. The sons of Adam see everything as fate, good luck, bad luck, happenstance, coincidence, or “that’s just life.” How sad not to be able to properly interpret what is being written or said. But is this not the nature of those who are blind and deaf to spiritual maters?
As sons of God, we must not fall into such a narrow way of thinking, trapped by human reason, which in essence is atheistic at worst and agnostic at best. Remember that it is all about Him. We are not central to the purposes of God. His glory is central. This is what I am learning, the older I get.
I never cease to be amazed at the strength of my flesh. Its natural affinity for the world offers no resistance but yields so easily. This fallen man, referred to by Paul as “wretched,” is so hopelessly entangled with pleasing itself it becomes drowned in its own selfish pursuits.
Thus, we must see ourselves through the lens of Scripture that penetrates the heart where self-examination fails to reach. Scripture affords us the great privilege of looking beyond our natural horizons. We can see with the eye of faith that which the natural eye will never comprehend. We can hear the voice of God that our natural ears are deaf to.
We are foreigners to a life of rest, but very familiar with frustration, angst, fear, restlessness and unnecessary busyness. This should not be. If God is our central pursuit, then all that satisfies us will be found in Him. We are not to be discouraged by our fallen nature but are to rejoice in the power of our new nature, which is born again and takes us out of the kingdom of darkness and places us into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
” A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.” -Proverbs 11:1
Honesty is a character trait that has undergone radical examination by society, and the verdict is in. Honesty is no longer acceptable as a moral trait. The more we can shade the truth, cheat on a test, or deceive the IRS, the more we are heralded as clever, which is far more important than honesty. The tail is now wagging the dog. Isaiah warns of such times when he says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
The body of Christ must be above reproach. We must avoid the false balance and see to it that integrity reigns. Truth sheds light on that which is false. Our work ethic along with the words we speak must represent the God we serve. If we put the integrity of our lives on one side of the scale and falsehood on the other side, which side would tip the scale in its favor? Remember that Christ said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.”
IF I WALKED BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT, THEN my faith would be the glasses for my sight. My eyes would look through the lens of faith. Faith would determine what I really see. My eyes would see, but my faith would interpret. My eyes would gaze, but my faith would discern. Rationalization, however, blinds me to this truth. My eyes simply represent one of my five human senses as I desperately want to see, touch, smell, hear, and taste my way through life. Oh, how I want to lean on my own understanding.
If I walk by faith and not by sight, then I will understand that I am to taste and see that the Lord is good. My human senses are not bad. They are God-given gifts in order to get around in this physical world. But they are not good interpreters of the deeper issues of life. Faith allows me to see beyond my natural horizons. When it is said of Abraham in Hebrews 11:10 that he was “looking for a city,” it is not referring to his eyes but to his faith in what God had promised. Jesus also referred to this great man of faith when He said “Abraham saw my day, rejoiced and was glad in it” (John 8:56). It is said of Moses that he could “see Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27).
Faith does not nullify nor replace our human faculties. It simply goes beyond what our senses can perceive. My human wisdom can tell me how much I have in the bank, but my faith can tell me the only One I can bank on. My human wisdom can tell me how strong I am, but faith can tell me “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). My human wisdom can tell me how smart I am, but my faith tells me that I have the mind of Christ. My human wisdom can tell me how healthy I am, but my faith tells me that I will live forever.
I will never walk totally by faith. I must learn to grow in this area. Jesus, however, lived in total dependence upon the Father. He never allowed His senses to get in the way or blur what He could see by faith. The gospel places to my account the faith in His account.
Thank God for this sixth sense of faith.
IF I WERE UNBIASED, THEN I would be able to make proper judgments in life without any thought of personal gain. A predetermined outcome would not be colored by desired results. If I were unbiased, then I would always work from the context of what is true and not what I want to be true. I would see all situations that demand me to make a decision as not being influenced by personality, people, friendships, personal benefit, political leanings, or the fact that I live in America. Rationalization says, “Let’s get serious. Who could possibly live under such constraints?” No doubt, being unbiased will be a threat to our character as long as we live.
If I were unbiased, I would want to make sure that I don’t use excuses for my personal prejudices but weigh all matters on the scales of biblical justice. If I love hymns, am I biased to the point that any songs written in the past twenty years must be shallow and lack doctrinal content? If I love praise songs, am I biased to the point that anything written prior to this century must be stodgy, unexciting, and boring? If Scripture is silent on such issues, then preference may rule what I like – but I should never allow bias to rule out what I don’t like. Do I ever find myself interpreting Scripture through the lens of my favorite theological system rather than letting the Scripture speak for itself? Such bias is rude, as I am interrupting God when He is speaking to me, and if not careful I will find myself telling God what He should be saying to me rather than what He is saying to me.
If I were unbiased, then I would work from a level playing field and not from the rocky soil of prejudice. But I don’t even know when I am being biased because my bias overrules any thought that I could ever stoop so low as being controlled by such a demon. I am so thankful that there is one in which “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). It was said of Jesus in John 1:47 that “Here is an Israelite in whom there is nothing false.” He leveled the playing field and helps us have our minds renewed day by day through His unbiased word.
IF I WERE DISCERNING, THEN I would know the difference between Law and Grace. I would certainly know that the law can’t save me, but my discernment would need to go much deeper than that because my entire Christian life is based on keeping these two in balance. Balance, however, has never been the Christian norm, so in order to make myself feel good, I lean on my trusted friend Rationalization to come to the rescue. It helps me feel good about keeping the law because it appeals to my self-righteousness. It convinces me that by keeping God’s law I will move up the ladder of righteousness a few rungs and can then look down on the rest of the motley bunch below me. It tells me that grace is my ticket to do whatever I please.
If I were discerning, then I would know that I am not under the law but under grace (Rom. 6:14). I would also know that Jesus said He did not come to do away with the law but to fulfill the law (Matt. 5:17). The law is also holy and just and good according to Paul (Rom. 7:12). So how do I put these together? Not being under the law does not mean I am free to break the law, but should I do so, it can no longer condemn me. It is not a means by which I obtain God’s approval. God’s grace is the power to live the life that he has called me to live (I Cor. 15:10).
If I were discerning, then I would know I need to have a right relationship to the law and to grace which is provided in the person of Christ. However, if you are like me, then you realize we all lack discernment to fully understand all there is to know about law and grace. But there is one thing I am confident in: I am rightly related to the law and rightly related to grace because I am rightly related to Christ who kept the law for me and by his grace gave me the righteousness that the law demands.
IF I DELIGHT IN THE LORD, THEN according to Psalm 37:4, I will be given the desires of my heart.
Rationalization has a field day with this verse. We consider this to be carte blanche, and whatever we ask we will be given if we delight in the Lord. So let’s analyze this for a moment. I want a new BMW and since I am delighting in the Lord He will give it to me. Since when is someone delighting in the Lord when material possessions become the main focus? Their delight is in stuff and not the Lord. “Love not the world neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15).
There is another more troubling way to look at this verse. “I really want children” or “I really desire to be married” is the cry of many who have delighted in the Lord, yet these desires have not been fulfilled. But these are normal desires and are not necessarily the result of delighting in Him.
A third understanding is that God places strong desires on our hearts when we delight in Him that cannot be fulfilled in any other way but by supernatural grace.
So if I am delighting in the Lord, then I might expect that He will give me an overwhelming desire to advance the Kingdom in ways that are beyond my normal desires and capabilities. A missionary call or a deep desire to start a Bible study at work may well fall into this category. After I came to know the Lord, I had a passion to plant a church which at the time made no sense at all (and was well out of my comfort zone and training.) But God’s calling is His enabling: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1Thess. 5:24).
If I delight in the Lord then I can expect Him to move in ways that I am not familiar with. Such ways are exciting and have no human explanation attached to them. None of us, however, fully delights in the Lord, yet we have this record of Jesus: “…. for I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). When we are in Christ, then what Jesus has done in total obedience to the Father is credited to our account. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov.3:5-6)
IF I WERE EMPATHETIC, THEN I would feel the pain of others. Their poverty would be my poverty, their divorce would be my divorce, their cancer would be my cancer. Rationalization, however, is quick on the draw in such situations. How can I possibly be expected to carry such a load? I have enough problems of my own. But such rationale is soon to fade when we consider how desperate we are in similar situations and wonder where the encouraging word will come from. Where are all the believers when you need them? Have I been forsaken? Why hasn’t anyone called to see how I am doing?
Being empathetic does not mean that I am to carry the weight of the world’s problems. This is not reasonable and certainly not practical for one simple reason – all the world is hurting. The context of life is a world of pain and need. This does not, however, excuse me from being empathetic. Empathy has boundaries, and two things come into play for it to be carried out. First is proximity and second is familiarity. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians we find in the first chapter that we are to comfort others the same way we have been comforted by the Lord (1 Cor. 1:4). This implies that two conditions must be met if empathy is to transpire. First, I have to be in the vicinity of the one I am to give comfort to, and secondly, I am best equipped to minister if I have been through a similar heartache. So as you can see, I can easily get off the hook if these two don’t line up. However, if I am truly empathetic there is another way to do this. I can find someone who does qualify and encourage them to come alongside the wounded party. “Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts” (Eph. 6:22). In such cases, I am showing the love of Christ.
I will never care the way I should for those who are hurting. The Good Samaritan is not realistic. We will never pull over for every stranded motorist. It just isn’t going to happen. There is, however, someone who did more than just pull over. There is someone who has been touched with the feelings of our infirmities. There is someone who has suffered spiritual, emotional, and physical wounding. Where I have failed, He has triumphed and in this triumph I am moved to be like Him. When I am like Him, I will truly be empathetic.
IF I WERE HONEST, THEN I would be honest enough to admit that I’m not, for scripture lays claim to the proper assessment of my heart when it says “let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).
However, the scriptures also tell us of honest people who are upright and have integrity. So which is it? If God is the measuring stick, then the assessment in Romans is correct; but if man is the measuring stick, then certain people can be referred to as honest with respect to others. Rationalization, however, will keep me focused on the latter rather than the former. If I am honest, I will allow scripture to keep these two in proper balance. If I put too much weight on one side of the scale, then I will become self-absorbed and overly introspective about my sin. If I put too much weight on the other side, then I become self exalting, “I thank God that I am not as other men…” (Lk.18:11).
So how am I to see my honesty? Let’s first understand that it is quite possible to be honest and yet at the same time lack integrity. How can this be? Because we can compartmentalize our honesty but not our integrity. Integrity deals with the whole person. The word integrity comes from the same source as the word integer which means “whole number.” A man can be meticulously honest in filling out his income tax while at the same time cheating on his wife. His honesty is compartmentalized. He is an honest man who lacks integrity. So if I were honest, then I would see the need to be a person of integrity, otherwise I will rationalize and think I am honest because I don’t cheat on my income tax.
Jesus was never known for telling the truth, but for claiming to BE the truth (John 14:6). My failure to tell the truth is forgiven by the one who is the truth. He sought the Father on our behalf when he said “Father, sanctify them by your word for your word is truth” (John 17:17).
The word of God is the training ground for truth-telling. I will always be growing in this area if I allow the word to sanctify me. The balance? I have been forgiven for not living up to the holy standard which says I am not to “bear false witness.” Honesty moves me to integrity and I can now see myself the way he sees me: “And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” (Col. 2:10).
IF I BELIEVED IN THE GOLDEN RULE, THEN I would see others as more important than I see myself. “…But in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil. 2:3)
This is such a hard truth to accept. Rationalization can readily get the upper hand in this one. Why should I treat others with such sacrificial love when they don’t treat me that way? It’s the old “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” deal. But that philosophy simply doesn’t play out very well on the stage of life. This is why the world is in the condition that it is in. It is why families are dysfunctional. It is why there is friction in business and in the church. I don’t know how many times in sharing my faith that the person I am talking to tells me they will go to heaven because they live by the Golden Rule. Has anyone ever lived by the Golden Rule? I mean, really? How many times have you passed by someone who is obviously stranded on the highway and were too busy to help? You didn’t even want to look them in the eye for fear of feeling more guilty than you already felt.
IF I believed in the Golden Rule, THEN I would actually do what I would want done for me in the same situation. For instance, if I were driving along the highway minding my own business and saw someone who looked just like me, I would slow down and take a second look. Suppose it turned out to be me? Would I pull over for me? You bet your booties I would. I would most definitely pull over for me because I really like me. In fact, “like” is not a good enough word for how much I think of me. I am crazy about me. I am my number one fan. Mike is numero uno and deserves to be rescued because he is the greatest. At least, Mike thinks so.
If I lived by the Golden Rule I would not get through the day. I would not make it to work because I would be stopping along the way to help out people the way I would want them to help me. I could not make enough hospital visits or bake enough food to meet every need of the poor. So let’s all agree that none of us lives by the Golden Rule. So why does the Lord tell us to conduct our lives this way? Have you ever noticed that the Lord never says “to the best of your ability, pray when you get a chance,” but rather “pray without ceasing” (I Thes. 5:17)? Have you ever noticed He doesn’t say “meditate if there is time in your schedule,” but rather “meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2)? The Lord doesn’t say “try your best,” but rather “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:8) or “be holy as I am holy” (I Pet. 1:16). God’s standard could never be anything but perfection, thus the Golden Rule.
This is the heart of the Gospel. Christ lived out what I couldn’t. He didn’t have to meditate day and night because he is the living word. He is the answer to prayer. He is the embodiment of the Golden Rule. So to be in Christ is to have carried out all of these impossible demands. II Corinthians 5:21 tells us that we have become the righteousness of God in Christ. The righteousness that we could not achieve he achieved for us. Do we now decide never to pray or live by the Golden Rule? To quote the apostle Paul, “may it never be.”
Instead of the impossible standard of the Golden Rule, this is now our motivation – the power of the Gospel. “….and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20b).