No "Fine Print"
Note: No lawyers were harmed in the research for the following article. [Just trying to cover all my bases!] Don't you love the impact that lawyers have on our lives? They do what they do for our protection (and maybe their financial gain if we are involved in a car wreck or have mesothelioma). Got your attention yet? Then click the link for the rest of the message.
I don't watch a lot of TV; mainly "the news." But I have seen enough commercials for products—like some wonder drug—to see that sometimes they mention more side effects than benefits. The company doesn't want to get sued if something doesn't work out so they tell you about them. If there is a great deal on something like a car, the speed talker at the end is telling us why we might not qualify for the special deal. The legal department makes them do that. Let's go beyond TV; have you ever signed a contract for some-thing like a credit card ... without reading the 4 or 5 pages of fine print that you couldn't understand? Guess who wrote it up?
You get the idea—very few things come without qualifications or limits. We are used to it. Sometimes that is okay ... but sometimes not. Let me mention one of the "nots." Several times Jesus addressed the "cost" of following him; a follower must go "all in." In Luke 9:57-62, we read about 3 people who were potential followers of Jesus ... as long as he could accept some limiting conditions to their commitment; it needed to not be too hard, or would have to allow for emergency exemptions, or it would have to fit their time schedules. Jesus' concluding statement was, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." In other words, "If you can't go all in, you really aren't 'in.'"
That high bar of commitment trips a lot of us up, I imagine. For example, when we stop tithing because we are in a financial bind ... or want to spend our money elsewhere. Or when we fail to tell someone about Jesus because we fear what others might say about us. Maybe it is when we lower our standards of morality because the temptation was "too strong." Or we are slack in our "assembling together" at church (see Hebrews 10:25) because we have too many other things going on or we are just tired. [Have I hit most of us somewhere yet?]
In contrast, remember the story of 3 guys in the Old Testament—Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego (3 buddies of Daniel)? At one point they were brought before the king because they wouldn't bow down to his image and worship. The penalty for that act of disobedience was to be burned alive. Amazingly, the king offered them a second chance at compliance (because they had been trusted advisors to him). They told him they didn't need a second chance or time to reconsider, they were resolute in their commitment to worship only God. The king was infuriated and said they would be thrown into the furnace. They responded by saying, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." [Daniel 3:17-18] It is that "But even if He does not" part of the statement that gets my attention. It was a statement of unconditional commitment; there was no fine print to give them a way out. They were all in no matter what happened.
That is the kind of commitment that Jesus was talking about. Is that the kind of commitment that we give him? I imagine that none of us are feeling guiltless at this point. Instead of feeling defeated, why not make a re-commitment? God has no "fine print" that forbids us from starting over. Aren't we glad?
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible® 1995