2001-03-08 - What is Lasting?
1 Cor 9:25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (NAS)
I woke to a rather rude surprise yesterday morning. My car didn't start. Ironically, last month we had finished paying off the loan we used to pay for the car. The car itself has been very reliable with very few repairs required over the years we have owned it. But when I turned the key to start the engine, the lights on the dash board lit up and there was no sound at all. The battery was dead and it had caused the windings in the starter to fuse meaning that both had to be replaced. It put a dent in my morning and my wallet.
So many of the things we do in this life are done for temporal things like this wreath that Paul writes to the Corinthians. Most of the things we rely on from day to day are also temporal. They give us the illusion of permanence and reliability. They are actually, to a point, reliable. The Romans build aqueducts and roads throughout their Empire. The design and construction were done to demanding standards. There are joins between stones in the masonry that does not allow a playing card to be slipped in between them. Because of the level of detail and over-engineering that was put into these projects, some of the roads and aqueducts are still in use today. But in the end, these too will crumble under the weight of time.
Prov 18:24 A man of many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NAS)
So, it seems that out best efforts as a race are limited in the end. So, what can we finally grab hold of that will never bend, break or move? There are enduring friendships that weather the storms of life and will indeed last into eternity. Even the most enduring relationships can be strained and tried at times. True friendship will endure only when the two involved are willing to know each other including their faults and stand with each other regardless of what happens. These friendships are few and cherished.
What sets these lasting relationships apart? Giving and sacrifice are two of the ingredients. The willingness to give time and energy to the relationship. The desire to be there even when things are bad, or worse when the other has blown it and does not feel they deserve the support their friend can give. It is not about deserving, it is about grace and mercy. Grace and mercy are things that give a friend the courage to stand with their friend even when they are in the wrong or helpless. It is doing whatever we can to make things right to spare our friend from what they may deserve.
Jesus stood up for us when we deserved no help at all. We as a race had deliberately turned our backs on Him and decided that we knew better. The Godhead moved on our behalf when they would have been justified to simply let us go our way and perish and start over again. His sacrifice on the cross was the only thing that could have reopened the path to Heaven. Only His perfect sacrifice could satisfy the law. The unmerited favor, or grace, which God showed us in sending Jesus, and the unselfish sacrifice Christ willingly became, and the undeserved forgiveness, or mercy, in giving us His perfect, resurrected life in exchange for the crumbling ruins of our life could save us from what we deserved - eternal separation from God.
The song writer penned, "only one life - so soon it will pass, only what's done for Christ will last." These acts of mercy and grace wrapped in faith will last, like the few, very special friendships and the power of the love of God to save anyone who sincerely asks to be saved from what they deserve. If you are willing to finally admit that you can not make it on your own, you will meet a friend who will stick closer than a brother through whatever comes.
If you want to know more, just let us know. We be happy to talk with you.
Grace & Peace,