Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Constant

I was never an ardent science student in school, but I do remember the concept of constants and variables.  I may not be completely accurate in my definition, but for my purposes today, a constant would be a state of being that is the norm, and a variable would be a temporary change from that constant, but after a time, things return to the constant.  I think in life each of us live within mindsets of constants and variables.  For some people, life is generally good.  Their constant is comfort, happiness, good times.  Every once in a while something will happen to disrupt it, a sickness, a hard situation, but eventually things will return to being good.  For others it is the exact opposite, the constant in life seems to be suffering.  Life is generally rough, and there may be variables once in a while that lift that person up for a few moments, but inside they feel they know it won't last, and eventually life kicks them down again.  Life is hard.

Do I have a choice of which path my life takes, or am I at the mercy of life itself, am I trapped in my circumstances?  Or better yet, is there a bigger story that can completely change how I view my life, how I view suffering, how I respond to the inevitable pain life is going to throw my way?

I believe there's two constants by which we should view the world and our own lives.  I think this way of looking at things can change everything about how I live each day, how I respond to life, how I view who I am and what life is all about.

Romans 8:20 and following...  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse.  But with eager hope the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time....

John 3:18  - Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already...

The first constant is this - death, decay, condemnation.  Within the framework of human history, from Adam and Eve to the end of time, we live in a world of death, decay, brokenness, condemnation, judgement.  John 3:18 - we all stand already condemned, guilty of sin and in need of salvation.The first constant is that we, no, I deserve death because of my sin.   And even before physical death, because of human sin, the world is broken.  Cursed.  The constant of this world is not goodness or happiness or joy.  The constant of this world is sin and pain and death.  I should not be surprised when something in life does not go my way, when I have a bad day or someone hurts me.  In this world, that is the norm!  Instead, I should be shocked each and every time I am blessed with something good - a new day, a warm bed, the love of a good friend, the taste of ripe strawberries, the beauty of music.  Every single one of these moments in our lives goes against the very state of the world we live in.  It is not our right to have a good life, God owes us nothing.  We deserve nothing yet He lavishes daily blessings on each of us.

The second constant is God Himself.  The love, grace, hope that can be found only in relationship with Him.  Jesus died and rose again, permanently doing away with sin, death, brokenness, the curse on the world.  The constant of God is love - if you recieve the gift of grace given through Jesus.

John 3:16 - God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 8:35-39 - Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?  Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted or hungry, or destitute or in danger or threatened with death?...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 The first constant - the curse of sin and death - is the reality of this world, is the very fibre of human history.  The second constant - God's love and life - is the reality of heaven, and it goes way beyond human history.  It overwhelms this world.

So - how do I live my life?  By the constant of death - the fact that everything in this world always reverts back to brokenness, death and decay?  I think yes and no.  I think it is healthy to know that in this life, things are often going to suck!  That is the norm of this world and I should not be surprised.  Yet, even though that reality is often so present in our lives, I choose to live by the constant of God - that no matter what pain and brokenness I experience in my life, God's love in the end will eradicate all of it, and His love is really the constant of my life.

Revelation 21:3-5 - I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among his people!  He will live with them , and they will be his people.  God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever."  And the one sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making everything new!"

He is making all things new!  It was made possible at the cross, and one day it will be fulfilled in heaven!       But what about our lives in the meantime? How do we live with pain and death and suffering?  With humility and with the bigger view of God's love and desire to restore.  When life hurts, instead of bursting with anger and hatred at God, as if it is His fault, we should instead grieve the brokenness of our world while turning to God who is going to make all things new through His everlasting love.

One last scripture...  This guy could see through the pain to God and he knew what it was all about...

Lamentations 3 (start at verse one, but I'll pick it up in verses 16-25)  - He has made me chew on gravel, He has rolled me in the dust.  Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is.  I cry out, "My splendour is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!"  The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.  I say to myself "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him!"  The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him...

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