Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just Enough Just Ain't Good Enough

The opening chapel services at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have stimulated conversation regarding the power of the word of God. Although I was not privileged to hear the sermons of fellow Alabamian David Platt, I have heard him on other occasions. As many of the comments suggest (see, much is lost in simply reading the transcripts or even in listening to recorded sermons. Gauging by that commentary, though, it seems that many came away understanding that Dr Platt and others were advocating a ‘radical faith,’ or a faith that was ‘all in.’

During the past week I also read commentary regarding the problem of churches being without pastors and decrying the lack of ‘good preaching’ (see, in some cases because those churches have a litmus test opposing Reformed or Calvinist preachers. I was thinking, then, that in many cases we want ‘just enough’ of Christ not to be deemed pagan. For instance, Arminians want just enough of the effects of sin and just enough of God’s sovereignty to avoid the most serious charges of self-help salvation.

The Spirit recorded for us other examples of this from the life of Jesus. In Matthew 8:1 through 9:8 we are given several examples of ‘just enough’ philosophy. Jesus had just finished the Sermon on the Mount, and this passage records events that confirm the inauguration of the kingdom of God through the lordship of Christ. Jesus here heals the leper, the centurion’s servant, and Peter’s mother-in-law; rejected two would-be disciples; calmed the sea; healed two demoniacs; and healed the paralytic, and then pronounced his forgiveness.

The reaction to Christ’s lordship in these verses is instructive. Those in Christ’s presence seemed to want just enough of his power for physical healing; just enough adventure to avoid being too pedestrian; just enough sovereignty for physical rescue; just enough power over spirits to free enterprise; just enough authority for healing and forgiveness. Yet this attitude leaves us short of a lordship of Christ that demands his control over our bodies, whether in sickness or health. A lordship that calls us to leave those things in life we find comfortable and socially expected. That exhibits his sovereignty not only over the waves, but over our life. That effects reconciliation even when it disrupts commerce. And that demands and exerts the kind of authority that not only heals the body, but forgives sin and reconciles to the Father.

‘Just enough’ of God, then, is not enough.

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