Monday, February 25, 2013

My one foot perimeter

A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels  2/25/2013

    Today’s headlines can be troubling. In years passed, there were problems in the world that we hoped one day we would be able to come out of them. A world war (or two)? It will soon be over. A Great Depression?  We’ll work it out. Nuclear annihilation? Duck and cover. The social change of the 60s? All you need is love. Inflation and malaise of the 70s? Ronald Reagan is coming.

     Maybe those issues were just as troubling at the time as ours are today and maybe even more so. The threat of nuclear war in the atomic age had everyone nervous. But today’s troubles don’t seem to have a solution on the horizon. Does anyone think that the radical terrorists are going to someday grow up and go back to their lives? Do you think that our government is going to wake up soon and say, “Gee, I think it’s high time to pay off our debts.” Are you nervous about sequestration, cutbacks, climate change, deficits, immorality, hatred of Christianity, media bias?

     Or maybe you are going through a personal crisis. Do you feel your life is so out of control that no solution, no miracle, no victory is in your future? Has your sin finally caught up with you and found you out? Does the word “terminal” permeate your doctor visit?

     Matthew 6:24-34 has a solution for all those things: do not worry.

     “Do not worry? Jesus are you serious?”

    You better believe He is serious. You see, the command of “Do not worry” is predicated on prayer (Matt. 6:9ff), a heavenly perspective (6:19ff), and an unswerving focus on God (6:24), followed by a sober reminder that our concentration should be on the things we can change within a foot perimeter of our body (Matthew 7:1ff)

     When a leper came to Jesus (Mark 1:40ff), he said “if you are willing, you can cleanse me.” I give you full permission to turn to page 330 in your copy of The Story (TNIV) and mark through where it says, “Jesus was indignant.” If that jars you as it did me when I read it, you might want to do what I did and look it up in the Greek. Go to and type in Mark 1:41 and you won’t find another translation anywhere which says Jesus was indignant to the leper. My NKJV says “Jesus was moved with compassion.” Those infamous “bowels of compassion” was the first century’s equivalency of what we call “the heart” today.

     My point is not Bible translation, but rather “When you cannot see God’s hand, trust His heart.” I have friends who get rather lathered up about politics, but seriously, if we cannot change that one foot perimeter, what can we do about our nation and world?

     So what do we do? Give up? Resign ourselves to the inevitable? Hunker down for the storm and enjoy the ride? Not at all. We do what Peter did in Luke 5:5. We let down our nets at the Master’s bidding. We do what the friends of the man stricken with palsy did in Capernaum in Mark 2:4. We tear off a roof.

     What does that mean? It means we pray the Serenity Prayer.

Pray: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.  Amen.