Friday, February 22, 2013

Standards, Expectations, Parameters and Security

This past week  I've been thinking about standards we daily live by at home, work, in society, financially and spiritually. I know folks that live by a number of different standards and those standards can change from time-to-time.

Up until 1973, our dollar was on the gold standard. Gold was $40 per ounce. It didn't change. It was consistent, constant and you could bank on it. Once we went off that standard, the value of gold and other precious metals began to fluctuate. It's now somewhere north of $1,600 per ounce. There is no consistency from hour-to-hour let day to day.

Our country's morality has undergone a tremendous upheaval. God was officially kicked out of the public school classrooms in the early 1960s and now 50 years later we are seeing the results. Teachers unable to disciple pupils for fear of lawsuits.  All pupils are "winners" and thus entitled to something even when they aren't.This leaves them woefully unprepared for the rigors of life, especially when they find that there is actual competition for jobs. Mass shootings have occurred in schools and movie theaters. Unbelievably we are actually having conversations about how to protect our kids from shooters in schools that were once considered safe areas. That was unheard of 50 years ago.

Moral standards have gone the same way. It seems each person sets his own standard for living and what is or is not acceptable. What is true for one person is not necessarily true for another  but we are told that all truth is acceptable and equal except when it runs counter to "my" (read "your") truth. The fact that your truth and my truth may be diametrically opposed  does cause a problem, but if it feels good, who cares?

The question is, what standard counts?  Do you even have a set standard or parameters you live by or do they vacillate like the wind?

Most parents know  children need boundaries and parameters. While children will test the outer limits of those boundaries, there is safety and security in knowing those boundaries exist. Properly disciplined, children know they are safe within those boundaries and danger happens when they go beyond the boundaries.

Are you happy with your boundaries? Do you feel safe and secure within them? What happens when your boundaries and standards differ from your neighbor's?  Whose standard is right, especially if they are opposed to each other?

The Bible gives us a gold standard that does not waver or change. It is God's word to us on how to live and act.  The Bible has rules but it isn't about keeping a set of rules. It is about learning to live in a loving relationship with the creator of the universe.  It's about how to forgive your neighbor when you have been wronged and how to forgive yourself and to ask forgiveness of others when you have screwed up and injured someone by words or actions.

That gold standard doesn't change. The writer of the book of Hebrews says :

 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods...
( Heb. 13:8-9 ESV)
The Bible says Jesus is consistent and doesn't change. The Bible says it is a lamp to our feet and a guide to our path (Psalm 119:105) and that:

  the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb. 4:12-13 NKJV)
God's word is trustworthy and is an unchanging standard that teaches us about all areas of our life if we are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to instruct us.
If you want security, especially eternal security, the Bible shows us how to have security and peace in our days despite the shifting societal standards.  How do you get that security and peace?
You simply come to Jesus by repenting from doing things your own way, accepting the sacrifice of Jesus made for each of our sins on the cross of Calvary 2,000 years ago and then give him your entire life to be molded and changed on a daily basis by the Holy Spirit. That peace and security you have as His child doesn't mean you will be free of problems and personal heartache. It does mean that you will have God in your corner and in your heart and you will be able to handle those situations by trusting and relying on Him.
It costs you nothing but a decision to say yes to Jesus. That decision also means you give your entire life to Him. In one respect the salvation and security in Jesus costs you nothing and yet costs you everything if you truly walk with Him every day. The Bible tells us we are to count the cost to us personally to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Those who make that decision in the affirmative have a God who is unchanging in His love towards us and who blesses us with all good things we need (but not necessarily what we want). 
Those who reject Jesus will also have a secure future when they die and it won't be what they want. They will be living eternity outside the parameters of God's ideal established plan of order and security, peace and harmony and fellowship with God and suffer the fate of the eternally damned.
Despite what other religions teach, the Bible gives us the only way we are to live for God and enjoy His presence for eternity. It is the gold standard and it doesn't change for it is established upon God Himself.
God bless you all during this second week of Lent.