Tuesday, July 12, 2016

the crux of the matter

The Word for today:
mark this: Philemon 1:17-18 --
If you count me as a partner, accept him as you would me.
But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
"Crux" is Latin for cross. "Crux" has come to mean the basic, central, critical point or feature about something, as in the phrase "the crux of the matter."
To say, then, that the cross is the crux is self-evident.
Despite (or maybe because of?) its crucial centrality, the cross tends to get lost. It swings from rearview mirrors as a kind of talisman. It hangs right there with the fuzzy dice, the pine air freshener, and the garter from your prom in '83. It dangles from the necks of rock and rap stars and nestles in the cleavage of Hollywood starlets whose every thought, word, and deed deny it. It can even get lost in the real lives of believers -- in the hustle of our busy-ness and churchy-ness, in the bustle of our faux piety and and feigned devotion.
So if ever the cross and what happened there starts to get away from you, turn to the little book of Philemon.
In this short letter, Paul pleads with slave-owner Philemon to have mercy for the runaway slave Onesimus -- to accept him back "not now as a servant, but…a beloved brother." (verse 16)
Two astonishing verses--17 and 18--are a summary of what happened at the cross. The theological concept is called imputation.
Imputation is the act of God whereby He accounts righteousness to the believer in Christ, Who has borne the believer’s sins in vindication of the law. Philemon 17 and 18 perfectly illustrate imputation:
“Accept him as you would me” — reckon to him my merit.
“If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account” — reckon to me his demerit.
Philemon 17-18 is like overhearing a conversation between God the Father and God the Son -- a conversation about you!
So when the crux of the matter gets lost in either the pious or profane shuffles of our lives, return to this little letter and remember to write your name in the blanks:
Jesus: If ___________________ has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
God our Father: I will.
Jesus: If you count me as a partner, accept ____________________ as you would me.
God our Father: I will, Jesus.  I promise you I will.

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