Monday, August 27, 2007

I Can do All Things Except

Christians ought to be exceptional people - not people with exceptions. The fact someone is a Christian ought to preclude all exceptions. However, too often, that's not the case. You've probably heard the phrase, "the exception rather than the rule." Sadly, you are just as likely to have heard it, or something like it, used by someone who claims to be a Christian as you are to have heard it from someone who's not.

Listen closely next time when someone attempts to explain why they can't do something. Our world is full of exceptions or at least people trying to use them as excuses for not being able to do what they ought to do or what they claim they want to do, including (tragically) Christians.

For example, take the person who claims to be a Christian and yet says they can't stay away from alcohol. They're very likely to tell you, because of their genes or their grandpa, Gene, they have a predisposition to want to drink. Others might be able to quit, but they are the exception to the rule - they can't. The person addicted to pornography will often tell you the same thing. They've heard of others who've been able to quit, but they can't. They must be the exception rather than the rule. No matter how hard they try, it doesn't work. They're hooked. Or how about the person who is an incurable gambler, blowing their weekly paycheck, maxing their credit cards, bankrupting their family and burying their future? Same thing. Others might be able to stop and walk away, but they are "the exception" - they just can't.

Equally troubling is so many of the people who do become addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, food, sex, smoking, etc., through years of bad choices, neglect and destructive, repetitive actions, mistakenly believe quitting ought to be easy. They don't want to do the hard work it takes. They want a short cut. They want a pill or a patch, or to go to some luxury resort rehab for thirty days, a friend in study hall with the right homework answers or have some other quick and easy solution. Trouble is, it doesn't work that way. Maybe there are exceptions. But generally the rule is: if you really want success, you have to work to get it. Advertisers annually make millions for corporate clients promising people the impossible. You've heard the pitches: "rock hard abs in two minutes a day," or "become a real estate tycoon in thirty days with no money down."

The reality is: there's no free lunch and your dream of rock hard abs won't happen without a rock solid commitment to do the gut-wrenching, hard work it takes to get them. It's that simple. Period. Yet many people, including Christians, still pursue exceptions, practice excuses and attempt to perfect their explanations that somehow make them feel better about a lifestyle of procrastination and a perpetual unwillingness to do what ought to be done and what needs to be done. Christians don't need exceptions when it comes to doing what's right or doing what's best and shouldn't use them to attempt to explain away disobedience. Paul said, "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8:37)

What can't we conquer with God's help? Got an exception? Truth is, we've got the inside track to success - in any endeavor. John said, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." (I John 4:4, KJV) Those who say their life, their case, their situation, their circumstance, their problem, their habit or their addiction is the exception apparently don't know Jesus. What is it Jesus can't help us overcome? Can you think of an exception?

If you're a Christian and want victory, you already have it. If you want freedom from the sin that so easily entangles you, you already have access to that, too. But Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, won't snap His supernatural fingers and make your way out an easy way, lazy way or even a quick way. There'll still be pain involved. It'll still take time and there'll still be a price to pay.

However, He'll help you every step of the way if you focus on Him and follow Him every day and He'll help you be an exceptional person rather than someone always looking for an exception. Paul said in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength." (KJV) What that means is: there are no exceptions when Jesus rules.

So, are you the exception to the rule or an exceptional person because Jesus rules?
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