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In His grip — And oh that smell . . . August 2, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Colossians 2:6-10, Grip, John 10:22-30, Permanent, Smell.

I hated Saturday mornings when I was very young. That was the morning my mom went to the beauty shop and dragged me along. And I will never forget the smell of a beauty shop. It was the smell of women getting permanents.

Getting a permanent (a.k.a. “perm“) done to your hair might be one of the strangest concepts ever — after all, if it‘s “permanent“ why does it have to be redone every three to six months? One comedian has even asked the question – Shouldn’t it be renamed a “temporary“?

This temporary nature of permanence spills over into theology and doctrine today. Some people have applied it to their spiritual lives, wandering if God might change His mind. Some have wandered away from God or they have wriggled loose from His grip, applying that temporary / permanence to their commitment to God.

Jesus says that eternal life is something that He gives to us; it isn‘t something that we have earned or deserved. Jesus did for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves. The legalistic faith of first-century Judaism had become cumbersome and confusing. They spent more times counting the steps someone took on the Sabbath than they did counting the cost of Christ and His death on the cross or the cost of discipleship. And today‘s “theology“ as seen by perusing the bookshelves at your favorite bookstore is equally confusing. One book tells you your problem is your diet. Another tells you it is your past experiences, and yet another tells you it is the lack of positive thinking. A better you is just around the corner.

Now throw into the mix the simple concept of salvation as a function of God‘s grace and some people get really confused. Solutions to major problems usually require a summit meeting by the world’s leaders or at least a committee or telethon, right?

Read John 10:22-30. We live in a culture where nothing is permanent. Everything we believe to be permanent is really hanging by a thread, so it seems. It is easy to see how people might apply worldly reasoning to spiritual conditions and have that push us to one side or another theologically. With marriages disintegrating and the collapse of the family unit it is hard to believe that God‘s love is eternal. The tenuous nature of our jobs makes it hard for us to believe that God won‘t discard us in the same way our employers do.

The key is this — salvation‘s permanence isn‘t based on my ability to keep it, but on God‘s ability to sustain it. When I doubt my salvation, then I am expressing doubt of God‘s ability and desire to preserve our relationship. And when I return to my old sinful ways, the Bible clearly states that I “fall away“ as in Luke 8:11-15 and Hebrews 6:4-6. And the result of that is that we deny His power to forgive us and cleanse from unrighteousness.

Now that doesn’t mean that we won’t have spiritual highs and lows. Some days are better than others. Some days we sense His presence more than others. But this I know for sure — If I feel distant from God, it is me that has moved away, not God!

Jesus pointed out the problem. Take a look at verse 26 of John 10. It points out one reason that I would doubt God’s ability to save me and keep me — I am not one of His sheep. These are harsh words, but they speak more to patterns of sin than moments of doubt. It is one thing to acknowledge Jesus’s existence; it is another thing altogether to put your faith in Him and move forward in obedience as He draws us deeper and deeper into a relationship with Him.

Read Colossians 2:6-10. Receiving and believing are companion concepts. When writing to the Colossians, Paul referred to believing as “walking.” The idea is that faith is intertwined with action. Action reaffirms faith. Reaffirmed faith spills over into action. This is the idea expressed as being “established in the faith.” It is the same as being rooted or firmly planted. Your daily walk reveals the strength of your faith.

If a casual observer followed you around for a day, would your actions reveal a dynamic, growing faith in God or would that person be convinced that God lacks the power to hold on to your life?

Look at that — we are the ones not walking in faith and yet God will get the blame for it from that casual observer.

Oh Lord, may it never be in my life. May I not crucify you again.



1. Don Bowser - August 5, 2008

Mom saw that comment about the beauty parlor!!!!

2. Kevin - August 5, 2008

OK, maybe it wasn’t Saturday mornings, but that smell may have warped my psyche!

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