“It’s really just this simple”

It was a long phone call that tried my patience.  The discussion was about a challenging situation that involves attempting to meet many converging needs. Every ‘solution’ creates wins and losses. The man with whom I was speaking was singularly focused on protecting his interest at the expense of all the rest. He was insistent that answers could be found, implying that all we had to do was work a little harder. The truth is that there are answers but none are simple, none easy, and the best will require a lot of compromise.

People love slogans, mottos, and memes, don’t they?  Those one-liners imply that the complex nature of life can be met with a quick fix. Christians do it, too.

Guilt got you down?
ask Jesus into your heart and you can instantly change.
-Struggling with a chronic sickness?
Find a healer and say a faithful prayer and claim your healing.
Stuck in apathy? Struggling with faith in your crisis?
All you need is some author’s testimony of faith or a grand story about some charismatic leader to get through it. Perhaps, but not likely.

Not for one moment is it my intention to make the Christian way of life into a grim long slog through gloom and misery. There is joy in serving Jesus, hope for every day, and victory over sin, death, and Hell as we walk with Him in integrity working out the implications of the call of the Spirit to a holy life.

Conversion, Healing, and examples of overcoming faith ARE rich resources that help to mobilize Christians. However, just getting someone to repeat the sinner’s prayer does not guarantee real transformation of character unless that person subsequently becomes a disciple of Jesus. Healing is more than a miraculous relief of symptoms. Healing is about wholeness – forgiveness, balanced worship and rest, better food choices, for example.  Passion for Jesus is a choice each day about making Him first, over self-interest. Most service is done in hidden places, and will never be recognized this side of Heaven. If it takes applause and appreciation to keep us serving, apathy is inevitable.

If that all sounds complex, it should; because life is complex! While we might like simple slogans, Jesus never spoke in one-liners for the media. He invites us to let the Spirit work in us, deeply. He asks us to take up our cross daily, in order to let the true life of the Spirit emerge.  In Christ, the power of our sinful nature is replaced with the power of the Holy Spirit working within us.

How did Jesus illustrate that transformative power? He chose the seed. His Gospel, He said, is like seed that is planted in a field. That seed finds all kinds of soil – hard, shallow, weedy, fertile – in which to take root. “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.” (Luke 8:11, NIV) “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:15, NIV)  Hear, retain, persevere – and find a harvest.

Only a foolish person plants one day and expects to harvest the next. There is a time for germination, growth, and ripening before the realization of the fruit. A mixture of sun and rain are required in the process. It’s not ‘just that simple.’

Whether you are dealing with your own challenges or helping someone else work through theirs, have patience.  Patient endurance is a consistent theme of the Bible when describing the way of those who are godly.  Paul, a man who knew much about complex situations, urges us to stand faithfully.  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:1-5, NIV)

Here’s a word from the Word for your thoughts today. “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:12-15, NLT)


King Of My Heart

(worship at this link, renewed in an upward focus)

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh He is my song

 You are good good oh
You are good good oh

 Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh He is my song

 You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down

 When the night is holding on to me
God is holding on
When the night is holding on to me
God is holding on

John Mark McMillan | Sarah McMillan
© Meaux Jeaux Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Raucous Ruckus Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
McMillan, Sarah (Admin. by Moniker Music Group)

CCLI License # 810055

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