Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Keep it Simple

Just as I am, without one plea; But that Thy blood was shed for me.And that Thou bidst me come to Thee; O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

How many people have come to Jesus through the simple message of God’s love and grace, such as is found in the words of the hymn above! The message of Christ is very simple – believe in the Lamb of God. If we hear someone say, “I’m a pretty good person, I’ll make it to heaven” or “I’ve sinned too much, I’m too rotten of a person,” we’re quick to point out that it’s not about how good we are or how much we’ve sinned, but it’s simply about faith in Christ, and about God being completely satisfied with His sacrifice.

We bring people to Jesus with no strings attached. “Just believe.” Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think we start losing the simplicity of the message right after a person comes to Christ! It’s like, “Now we’ve got ‘em! Time to get out the ol’ list and sock it to ‘em!” “Read your Bible every day.” “Pray for an hour a day.” “Make sure you’re in church three times a week or whenever the doors are open.” “Give, work, serve, stop sinning.” “Get out there and witness.” “Make sure you do this.” “Make sure you don’t do that.”

We can easily trust the Spirit to lead a person to saving-faith, but we’re often too scared to keep trusting that the same faith is what keeps us standing for the rest of our lives! I plead guilty to thinking like this all too often! What happened to “It’s all about Jesus and what He’s done for you?” We quickly turn it into a list of “what we’re supposed to do for Him.”

Jesus was asked a question by people who perhaps thought that knowing God wasn’t as simple as He was making it out to be. They asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus’ reply was so simple that even today we have a hard time believing it! “This is the work of God,” Jesus said, “that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

If you’ve ever found that the Christian life is just too hard or complicated, or if you simply need something fresh to contemplate or dwell upon, think about that for a while! Stay there, and don’t be tempted to change Jesus’ answer to fit in with today’s Christian rat race. God had some comforting words for the weary through the Psalmist: “Cease striving (be still) and know that I am God.”

Rest, relax, lighten up! Remember Jesus’ words that “you did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit – fruit that lasts.” He had just finished saying that “he who believes in Me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things.” Here at the Vineyard, you will see a lot of this fruit! Consider the possibility that this bearing of fruit comes not from people who are struggling to follow some divine “to do” list, but rather from people who are simply resting in Jesus, who said, “He who abides in Me (simply by faith), and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.” “This is the work of God… Believe.”

God, You’ve given us Your very life, through the Holy Spirit, to be joined inseparably with our very lives. We remain with Christ, and Christ with us, through faith and not by our own efforts. Jesus is not “first” in our lives – Jesus IS our life! Our lives are now “Christ in us.” We’ve turned the burden of living our lives over to the Vine and the Vinedresser. It’s You who has begun a good work in us and it’s You who will be faithful to bring that work to completion! You’ve made us complete in Christ. It’s all about Jesus. Help us to keep it that simple!

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