Have you ever wondered why life is so complicated and everything is so difficult? What if it's not? Have you ever had the experience of taking a lot of time and effort to accomplish some task only to find out that it could have been done in one third of the time with only half the effort? I sure have. So what's the missing ingredient? I think the missing ingredient is truth. Simply put, when we see things for what they really are we can respond in the wisest manner. It is my contention that the Christian life is simple. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that it is easy. By simple I mean that it is not complicated -- it doesn't have many moving parts. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul urges us not to be "led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ." Another translation says don't be robbed of the simplicity that is in Christ.
Another way to put this is that you know a whole lot more than you think you do. We who have been baptized into Christ have received a tremendous amount of grace and knowledge. Think about it and I'll bet you that in about 90% of your situations you have no trouble distinguishing what is the right thing to do. The teachings of scripture and the Church are clear. Also consider this. Our major "problems" usually don't come from that 10% of our situations that may be a bit more difficult to figure out. Our problems more commonly come from those situations where we know what we ought to do but we don't want to do it.
So how do we handle this problem? I think a prescription of realizing some simple truth and a double dose of God's grace is the solution. I know when I am fighting one of those battles when I want to do it my way rather than God's way, the basic problem is that I don't really believe that any one will take care of me if I don't take care of myself -- not even God.
But what is the truth? The truth is that God loves me and he showed it when Jesus died for me on the cross. In the Gospel of John we read: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son..." This was a tremendous act of love. How much proof do I need! All that he does is love. When he deals with me in any fashion, whether I understand it or not, he is acting out of love for me.
One of the ways I like to share this truth with others is to say that God loves you whether you like it or not. God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it. It doesn't begin with you. It isn't true merely because you believe it and you can't make it go away by not believing it. God loves you because that's the way he is. So there!
So what do we do if we have cut ourselves off from that wonderful love? This is where the double dose of grace comes in. God is absolutely delighted to forgive us and show us mercy if we turn to him. Consider a couple of thoughts from the scriptures.
In Micah 7:18 we read: "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy." He doesn't forgive us grudgingly. He enjoys doing it.
In Mark 3:13 we are told: "Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. As I read this one day my eyes kept landing one the word "wanted." I began to realize that he didn't just call me because he had to or because it was his job. He actually wanted to do it. He really likes me. Growing in these simple truths has changed my life.
In summary let me put it this way. God loves us and his love for us is complete and unconditional. We have turned away from that love and have gotten ourselves into a peck of trouble in the process. And if that's not bad enough, we might even do it again. But thanks be to God he has provided a solution to our dilemma -- his wonderful, forgiving grace.
I pray that as you have read this you have experienced more than my inadequate words. I pray that the Holy Spirit has brought these simple, basic truths to life in your heart. For that you need his grace. I can't give that to you; you'll have to ask Jesus for it. After all, you're better off dealing with him than me anyway.