Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christianity is Not a Buffet

It's been quite a while since my last Romans' post. There must have been a herd of sheep blocking that Roman road for a while. Hopefully our journey will continue in a more timely future throughout these next months.

In chapter 4, we take a look at Abraham. Abraham received and believed the promise of God, in spite of the fact that his human circumstances were rather grim: "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead." Faith in the hard times is difficult, but if we look at Abraham's example, we can see that a genuine faith, which involves looking towards God and His power and plan, can overcome our humanly imposed obstacles.

We know that having faith in the hard times is tough, but what about faith in the hard things?
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:20-25
Abraham was credited with righteousness for his belief that God had power to do what he had promised. One of the things that God promises is our justification which comes as a result of Jesus being delivered over to death for our sins. That's one of those hard things. For some of us, it's hard to believe that Jesus' death was real. It's hard to believe that He was sent to the cross for our sins, like an innocent lamb sent to slaughter. None of us have a problem with Jesus, the babe in the manger, although we might have problems with the idea of Mary's virgin birth. We might believe the miracles of healing that Jesus performed, but have a hard time accepting the miraculous resurrection from His death.

One of the great things about a potluck dinner, or a holiday table groaning with more dishes than we could possibly eat, is that we can pick and choose. We can heap on our favorites, and skip over those dishes that we don't find so appealing. Christianity is not a buffet. We must accept the whole of God's word--the difficult and ugly truths, such as sacrifice and shed blood, as well as the comforting and pretty ones, such as love and forgiveness. Is it difficult for you? If so, ask God and He will give you the wisdom to move forward in faith.

Creating our own delicious buffet of tantalizing treats is dangerous in the world of religion. We can overeat by tasting things such as mercy and security, forgetting to balance them with discipline and humility. God's word as a whole is rich. It's a puzzle that fits together. Some of the pieces might look like they would never fit, but together they create a picture where each piece has a function and creates a thing of beauty to be enjoyed.

Index of all Romans' posts


lady laura said...

Excellent thoughts, Jennifer. I am really enjoying the series.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jennifer. Camden often asks me, "But WHY did God decide to do it that way - make his son have to die? WHY didn't he come up with another way to have our sins forgiven?" It's hard for him to understand why God would choose such a heart-breaking plan to be the means to our salvation and of course, rejoicing in the resurrection. While we give him the best answers we can, it often falls back to believing and accepting that God is God and His reasons and actions are right and just and good. The same holds true for all those "hard things" - holding fast, first of all to who God is, His character, and trusting Him to work all the rest for His glory.

L.L. Barkat said...

Faith, even in the hard things. I do like that (I mean, I don't like the hard things, but I like your thoughts about this! :)

org junkie said...

Jennifer, I've never thought of it this way. Thank you. Laura

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts, Jennifer. I liked the analogy to a smorgasbord. You're right, we can't pick and choose what we believe when it comes to God.