Are you looking for happiness in 2008? Here's the best and only sure prescription for it:
"Happy are all who perfectly follow the laws of God. Happy are all who search for God and always do his will, rejecting compromise with evil and walking only in his paths. You have given us your laws to obey- oh, how I want to follow them consistently. Then I will not be disgraced, for I will have a clean record. After you have corrected me, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey! Oh, don't forsake me and let me slip back into sin again." (Psalm 119:1-8, The Living Bible).
Having just come off Christmas, some of us have the painful duty of reading through a myriad of operation manuals. Most men of course will only do so when their own ingenuity at figuring out the new device fails. In some cases that will be too late and the device itself will have been destroyed because of some bone-head move-not that I ever did anything like that ... well, maybe ... OK guilty!
Just as an increasing number of electronic devices come with operations manuals, God has not left us to our own devices but has given us our Human Manual, the Bible.
This manual is full of helpful hints and the sound advice of the Manufacturer to keep us from ruining the product. Thankfully, not only has the Manufacturer given us a complete set of instructions, but, knowing that most of us won't follow them until we ruin the product, He has also given us a wonderful repair warranty. When we do destroy our product beyond repair, He promises us a brand new product free and clear (not even shipping charges) because He Himself has paid the price for the fix! The Bible says, "Christ died once for our sins. An innocent person died for those who are guilty. Christ did this to bring you to God. (1 Peter 3:18, CEV). The Bible says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).
However, please understand that just as we ruin our original product by trying to operate it on our own terms, we can ruin the new product just as easily. That is something many of us are prone to forget and it is the primary reason why many refuse to take the Manufacturer up on His warranty-they see no difference between the old and the new. Many of us readily exchange our old ruined product for the new product and then can't seem to understand why we're experiencing the same problems as we were before the fix. I'll tell you why: we're doing the same things that ruined the product in the first place! That has got to change! The words of Benjamin Franklin come to mind here: "Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results."
Many people complain about the Manufacturer's guidelines. But then again we complain about it all. We complain when someone loses their virginity but we also complain if they keep it. We complain when people treat life cheaply, yet we argue from a supposedly scientific stance that life is cheap. The bottom line seems to be that we want all the benefits of the product without having to follow the restrictions that guarantee we will get the most of our product.
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, famous for the God is dead movement, claimed two things. That God would be eliminated from the human equation (a philosophy that Phillip Pullman is trying to popularize among children in his Golden Compass Trilogy) and that the generation that succeeds in that will be "the bloodiest generation in history." He was right. No matter how you try to slice it, you will not find morality in the absence of Deity. The very thing we rue is the glue that holds life itself together! The Manufactures warnings are not to keep you from enjoying your product but to help you get the most out of your product.
If you want the most out of life, start living it by the Manufacturer's instructions. It might just be that He really does know best.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA, 30016. Send e-mail to email@example.com