Episode 1. The Missing Link
It’s amazing you know how long it takes us to make the connection between cause and effect. Smoking and cancer. Poor diet and disease. Sin and, well all that stuff in our lives. The consequences of the sin. The world of hurt that we’ve brought crashing down on our head, because we decided do go […]
It’s amazing you know how long it takes us to make the connection between cause and effect. Smoking and cancer. Poor diet and disease. Sin and, well all that stuff in our lives. The consequences of the sin.
The world of hurt that we’ve brought crashing down on our head, because we decided do go alone, turn our backs on God, and do it, as the song goes, my way. It’s as though there’s a missing link, a disconnect in our heads, between cause and effect.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this before but we are masters of self delusion, you and I – and half the rest of the world as well I’d have to say. That’s a bold statement isn’t it? What leads me to this earth shattering conclusion? Well I don’t know, we seem to have this amazing capacity to make excuses, to see something that’s obviously wrong in our lives and then to rationalise it away.
Look at how long it took us to acknowledge smoking was bad for you even though the evidence was there for years. How easy is it for people to spend more than they earn and then labour away in debt because they’ve bought something they don’t really need? It seems that what we do is we separate the impact from the cause, the symptom from the disease because we just don’t want to acknowledge the disease.
That means taking responsibility and then, then what we do is we spend the rest of our lives treating the symptoms instead of dealing with the underlying disease, it’s as though there’s a missing link.
Today we’re starting a new series; I’ve called it Extravagant Grace. It was sparked by a pastor in a place called Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it’s a war torn place, he wrote to me recently, this is what he said:
“We very much appreciate your programs but many of our people here are traumatised by war, they’ve become like children in their thinking and in reality they need some milk teaching to grow up, for children Christians as well as the meat teaching we’re feeding them for adult Christians.”
You know that really made me think how easy it is to gloss over quickly the centre piece of what Christianity is all about. The Gospel, the good news, that God created the world and the universe and us and yet we turned our backs on Him and what we deserve is His punishment. I mean when we turn our backs on Him there are bad things that happen in our lives and then He sent His Son Jesus. Jesus came and showed us what God’s like and suffered and died on that cross for you and me because of what we did.
It’s a wondrous story of extravagant grace but so often we fail to make the connection between God’s story of extravagant grace and our need for that grace. Between our rejection of God and the stuff that’s ruining our lives. How do I know that? Let me tell you something interesting. This program, A Different Perspective, I record 260 episodes each year. So far we’ve aired about 720 of these programs the last few years, that’s an awful lot.
We deal with all sorts of different subjects, sometimes it’s about the disease, sometimes it’s about the symptoms. We deal with issues like forgiveness, discovering who God made us to be, all sorts of stuff but you know the three most popular series that there have ever been, the ones where the phone has just rung hot, the three called, “Dealing With Difficult People”, “Anger Management” and a series called, “Affluenza” which was about people spending too much money and the impacts on their lives.
See people have a felt need in those areas and so the phone rings hot at our offices, I want to buy the CD, send me the life application guide. But a series say leading up to Easter, let’s say one like Who Is Jesus which was a series of poignant vignette of Jesus life, deep and personal and intimate, just as good the programs, just as relevant but we have no where near the same response from listeners.
Why is that? Because we respond to our felt needs and our felt needs are in our symptoms. I’ve got a difficult person in my life, quick send me that CD, “Dealing With Difficult People”. I’ve got an angry person in my life, quick send me the programs, “Anger Management”. Oh I’m having money problems, my credit cards are maxed out, quick send me the CD called, “Affluenza”.
See we try and treat the ills in our lives by managing the symptoms but we fail to make the link between the symptoms on the surface and the underlying causes deeper down. Because when we treat the underlying disease the symptoms go away.
Let me give you an example, all my life I’ve been overweight, it’s just one of those genetic things I guess plus I love food. I walk past a fish and chip shop, I take a breathe in and I put on two pounds. Last year I was tired and lethargic and uncomfortable and I wasn’t sleeping well so I went to see a Doctor about my sleep and he did the tests and he said no you don’t have sleep apnoea, you just have to lose some weight.
Now that’s confronting. I knew I was overweight, I knew that this was the cause, it’s just that you don’t want to deal with these things and since then I’ve lost a lot of weight. I feel fantastic, it’s an awesome thing and it’s the same thing over and over and over again in our lives. People’s marriages are falling apart, people are leading miserable lives, people are in really difficult situations.
You know over half the millions of people that will listen to this program this week live in poverty and in war zones with their lives under threat, it’s like an emotional battering ram. There are people with unforgiveness in their hearts, fear; some people are into witchcraft others are into worshipping wealth and money.
When you get right down to the basics there is an answer. God has done something that breaks through all that and goes right down to the heart of the disease, right down to the root of the problem with His healing extravagant grace and this week and next on the program we’re going to be looking at that. I’d like to start with a short piece of Scripture from Romans, chapter 1, verses 16 and 17, written by the Apostle Paul to the Church in Rome. He says this:
I’m not ashamed of the gospel because it’s the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. First the Jew and then the gentile.
See the power of the gospel, the power of the good news of Jesus Christ is the power for the salvation of everyone who believes – Jews and gentiles; everyone. Salvation is about being saved from all the consequences of our sin. I’m not ashamed of the Gospel either, it’s the good news of Jesus Christ, it’s the good news of God’s extravagant grace.
See we have symptoms in our life and I’m sure you have too, there are parts of your life where things are just not going well and if we were truly honest, if we looked in the mirror, if we said, ‘God show me what’s going wrong’ God would put His finger on those things.
Maybe it’s time for a stock take, how have you been dealing with them? Maybe there’s fear, uncertainty, depression, money, maybe a war’s going on around you, things that you can’t control, all that stuff but no matter where we are, no matter who we are, no matter what we’re going through, deep down we need an answer. Listen to what Paul writes again:
I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. First for the Jew and then the gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith.
See God wants us to believe in that good news and that’s what we’re going to be talking about over these next few weeks. I encourage you today to take a stock take of the symptoms, what are the things that you’ve been living through that are ruining your life because there is an answer and that answer is to be found in one place, in Jesus Christ?