by Rob Tims
If you had to divide the world into 2 categories, what would those categories be? I’ve a list of possibilities.
- IPhone users and Android users
- Dallas Cowboys fans and New Orleans Saints fans (who else is there, really?)
- Boston Red Sox fans and New York Yankees fans
- People who love grits and those who prefer oatmeal
- People with one alarm in the morning, and people with many
- Those who eat a Hershey bar one square at a time, and those who bite it like an apple
- Those who cut a sandwich corner to corner and those who cut straight across
- Those who use bookmarks and those who fold the corners of pages
This is but a smattering of my list, but you get the point, and you have a list of your own.
I enjoy this exercise because it forces me to boil things down to their simplest terms. I am forced to keep the main thing the main thing. There are risks associated with oversimplifying things, but it’s often a helpful exercise.
It’s one reason why I found this (paraphrased) comment by Martin Luther so helpful. In a sermon called, “Of True Piety, the Law and Faith, and of Love to Our Neighbor,” Luther says the following (and again, I’m paraphrasing to make it plain):
When it comes to God’s law, there are two classes of men. The first are those who, when they hear God’s law, desire to perform and fulfill it through their works. Such persons make a show with their glittering, fabricated service of God, and they think they keep this law. Yet in reality, they do not.
The other class are those who know themselves by the law and study what it seeks and requires. When they hear it, they are humbled by it, recognizing that they can not keep it. This leads them to confess their sin and helplessness and cry out to God for help, which He gives.
Do you see his point? When it comes to the law of God, there are 2 kinds of people in this world. There are those who read it and say (foolishly), “I can and will follow this law.” They probably impress themselves and others, but not God, and end up worshipping their own righteousness. Then there are those who read it and say (rightly), “God help me.” And in Christ, He has. They are then, in turn, empowered to love God, His law, and pursue a life of keeping it.
So, when it comes to the law of God, what kind of person are you? Says Luther, “If you desire to attain the true righteousness that avails before God, you must despair altogether of yourself and trust in God alone; you must surrender yourself to Christ and accept him, so that all that he has is yours, and all that is yours, becomes his. For in this way you begin to burn with divine love and become quite another man, completely born anew, all that is in you is converted. Then you will have as much delight in chastity as before you had pleasure in unchastity, and so forth.”
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.