Friday, March 9, 2012

Keeping it Simple

I need simple. Ever since my son was born almost 2 years ago, life has seemingly become increasingly crowded. Everything is a priority and the one thing I seem to struggle with the most is keeping things simple. It's partly because I tend to be a detail oriented person who sees a lot of complexity. This creates a conundrum; I need simplicity but I see complexity.

Which brings us to Christianity. Its core message is simple enough for a child to understand it;
- Jesus loves you. He died for your sins. Believe in Him and you have eternal life. And yet it's complex enough that you can spend a lifetime studying it and never fully grasp it all. Which brings us to a passage in Acts. In this passage we find Paul giving a defense of himself to governor Felix. It's in the middle of his defense that he says this;

" 'So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.' " (Acts 24:16).

This simple verse sums up so much for us. So much complexity boiled down to one verse. If we could do that one thing, keep a clear conscience before BOTH God and man, we'd be right in the center of God's will. How can I be so sure? Think about it. What would having a clear conscience before God mean? It would have to mean at least a few things...

  • We're not stuck in sin. A clear conscience necessitates we have received and understood His forgiveness and are living in the grace of God.
  • We're living in obedience. Jesus Himself said we show our love to Him by our obedience to Him. If you're not obeying Him, your conscience cannot be clear.
  • We have a growing love for our fellow man (and woman). The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor...and Jesus makes sure to define "neighbor" for us...it includes those who are "not like us" (see the story of the Good Samaritan). 
  • We're totally surrendered to Him. A clear conscience is found when you're completely surrendered to God and His will.

You measure and hear your conscience in solitude, silence and prayer. That's when our conscience can speak the loudest.

  • Stuck in sin? God will reveal it to you.
  • Living in dis-obedience, or ignoring a directive from God? He will correct you.
  • Angry at people? Have an un-reconciled relationship with another believer? He has asked you to be a peacemaker and be reconciled before you come to Him.
  • Mostly surrendered, but have a closet or two that God doesn't get to access? He'll ask you for the key.
You see if you really want to know how you're doing in your relationship with God, it's simple; sit quietly somewhere, and ask Him. Ask Him to speak to you. He will. Ask Him if your conscience is clear before Him; He'll tell you. He'll speak through His written Word, through His living Word, through others, and He may just whisper to you something you need to hear.

And to be sure, my conscience is speaking to me too...how about yours?

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