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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!"

   It's one of my favorite movie lines, from the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger. It resonates with me because it is so matter-of-fact. And it also has meaning because it sums up an important spiritual truth.
   So many Christians live tiresome, defeated lives because of one basic reason: they are trying to live a tireless, victorious life. Yet whether you try for a week, a year, or a lifetime, you'll never do it.
   The reason is simple, albeit easily avoidable. No one can please God all the time. Or even most of the time.
   But isn't that what God expects? Isn't the whole point of the Bible, from the Ten Commandments to the Beatitudes, that we should behave and operate in a way that will please God? Isn't that why we're punished by God sometimes for doing wrong, and rewarded for doing right? Shouldn't we, like Agent 007, be asking, "Do you expect me to always do good, to be kind to animals, read my Bible and brush my teeth?"
    The answer to that question, if properly asked of God, is as jarring and as final as Goldfinger's answer to Mr. Bond. And that's because it is the same answer:
"No, I expect you to die."
    For that is the secret to living a life that pleases God. It is exchanging our soiled, pitiful life for that of the spotless, powerful Savior. It is to surrender (something Bond would never do, I agree) in order to win. As Matthew quotes Jesus:
"He who has found his life will lose it, and
he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."
   So what does God expect of us? Good choices? Living right? Nope. He expects us to die. Every day. Every moment. To give all we are aware of that is ours to Him.
   To please Him? No. Who is pleased by being given what they deserve? 
   To get into heaven? No. That ticket requires a different payment, and has already been paid anyway.
   To make life easier here? No, although it should make your life more meaningful.
Allow me to offer an answer in the words of the always thoughtful C. S. Lewis:
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself!"
—Wayne S. C. S. Lewis quote is from Mere Christianity.

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