Service Please
March 2006
Key Topics: Christ's Death, Forgiveness, Salvation, Man's Heart



"Christians are continually trying to change their lives; but God calls us to experience the exchanged life. Christianity is not a self-improvement program. It isn't a reformation project. It is resurrection! It is new life!" - Bob George

Hi Friends,

I recently took on a series of home projects over a period of several months that involve painting, reorganization, new storage. I have made enhancements to the interior and exterior of my home that make it hopefully more usable . . . and aesthetically pleasing while in use. I also tried to update part of my wardrobe. Consequently, I have also made numerous trips to any number of stores securing the goods I need to make it all happen.

On many of these occasions, I have found it necessary to go back and make an exchange . . . an exchange because . . . the item was too large, too small, the wrong color etc. Perhaps the most frustrating experience is when you have the right color and size and weight and texture . . . but the item is just plain defective.

We humans don’t like “defective” and will usually take whatever measures necessary to make the exchange that will provide us with total consumer satisfaction. Ford Motor Company is shelling out millions this year to service their customers who have purchased very expensive and nice looking vehicles . . . but they need an exchange because one or more key parts are defective.

Throw Back Circumstances

Our desire for exchange does not stop with consumer goods . . . we can look all around us and see unjust people and unfair circumstances that we would love to throw back to heaven’s customer service counter . . . hoping to find a fresh replacement.

Wouldn’t you like your neighborhood free of the three-time convicted child molester? Or how about sending back the arsonist that just burned down the restaurant, church or library? Or how about the young attractive businessman who just murdered his pregnant wife while having an affair? You certainly don’t want the family around that produced teens who would recklessly shoot up the high school, would you? And while you are at it God, how about taking back the earthquake that produces a tsunami which kills thousands? Would you please replace that trembler with a warm front featuring 85 degree tropical conditions?

Heaven's Customer Service Counter

Then we come to Passion Week . . . and we get a fresh glimpse of what Heaven’s Customer Service & Return Counter really looks like. Just on the other side of the counter are perfectly made durable goods . . . hearts that are completely free of jealousy and covetousness and rage . . . hearts that are filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. At the front of the counter is an old rugged cross . . . holding a sinless Savior . . . with sharp iron spikes.

As we stare at the cross, we hear the invitation, “Come to Me all who are weary, weary from carrying around a defective heart . . . and receive a new one . . . come make the exchange.”

At first, our minds tend to think of any number of people we feel don’t even deserve a pardon . . . our minds conjure thoughts like "Don't they just deserve to rot in hell? . . . You lock the door, I will throw away the key."

But we are drawn . . . we step closer to the service counter . . . our stomachs become knotted as we behold the hideous image of a crucified God-man . . disfigured and bloodied beyond imagination. Now that we have identified those who should never be granted access to this counter . . . a strange thing occurs next . . . a realization . . . while we have never made a personal heart exchange . . . we will spend much of our lives worried about when any number of individuals and acquaintances will step up to this customer service counter . . . God knows they need a new heart . . . a radical exchange.

But then, quietly, but firmly, the Savior calls us to the foot of His cross . . . we think of many reasons to not get that close. We certainly don’t want to get in the way of the many customers who need to make an exchange. The Savior considers our sin-sick heart . . . scans through our desperate lifeless soul . . . looks into our eyes and says . . . “Come . . . to Me”.

A Hideous Reflection

At the foot of the customer service counter we finally look up and realize that the cross is also a life-size mirror, not one that reflects the surface of religious dedication . . . rather, one that portrays the heart of our need . . . all the carnage of weeks, months even years of "I'll do it my way . . . thank you."

When we look at this "reveal everything" mirror straight on, we see both a crushed and emaciated Savior . . . and a perfect reflection of our life, our heart . . . a heart that is hideous, full of pride and selfishness and every imaginable evil. How could He offer to make this exchange? . . . We can’t even recognize this heaven-sent “Durable Good” for what He is . . . He is too disfigured and bloodied.

Then, we realize He has already carried out 99% of our very own exchange . . . He is just waiting for mustard seed faith to arise . . . for us to choose life . . . for us to choose Him. When we choose to receive His replacement heart . . . we find eternal stability and security. That’s right, no moth or rust, no sickness or pride . . . not a shred of darkness in sight. Just the right color, just the right size, just the right texture . . . how could our answer be any different than "Yes Lord, now . . . . I need all of You . . . for all of me".

For the first time, our heart weighs nothing at all. We are free and assured of never needing customer service again . . . no further exchanges in sight. Suddenly the words of Hebrews 10:14  jump off the page,

"For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."

No more "muscling up" in our own strength when life throws us a curve . . . when our tank of wisdom and strength as a mate, a parent, a business leader, a neighbor, a friend . . . goes empty.

When we make THAT exchange, we are forever freed from trying to do a work for God . . . and forever free to watch a "Nothing is impossible Sustainer" do an unstoppable, undefeatable work through all the ups and downs of our lives. Would somebody please turn up the Easter celebration music? . . . and Jesus please accept my tears as an offering of praise . . . I just realized I will never again have to come to Your counter . . . and ask for . . .

. . . "service please".

 

"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God . . . For nothing is impossible with God". II Corinthians 5, Luke 1


Artist's Corner

"Healer" by Kari Jobe:

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in you
I trust in you

I believe
You're my healer
I believe
You are all i need
I believe
You're my portion
I believe
You're more than enough for me
Jesus, you're all I need

Nothing is impossible for you
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible for you
You hold my world in your hands

 


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