17th February 2014

That Pesky Small Print

“God’s Word is living and powerful. It is sharper than a sword that cuts both ways. It cuts straight into where the soul and spirit meet and it divides them. It cuts into the joints and bones. It tells what the heart is thinking about and what it wants to do.”
Hebrews 4:12 (NLV)

Click to accept the terms of the agreement said my computer; unless I comply and dutifully press my mouse there’ll be no programme. But just how many people read all the terms churned out, not only by computer programmes, but by banks, insurance companies, mortgage providers, airlines and all the myriad of companies with whom we have to enter into contracts? We have precious little idea what lurks in those seemingly endless pages of impenetrable English we call small print – all there it would seem to take back what we thought was ours or deny us something that we considered we were owed. So often we find ourselves powerless and frustrated in the face of the binding words of the tiny print we hardly understand.  

That’s our world of legally binding contracts with enough verbiage attached to them to make sure there’s no wiggle-room. But God doesn’t do contracts. He does covenants. And in our ‘I’ll do this if you do that’ society, it doesn’t come naturally to accept his covenant of unconditional love and grace and forgiveness. Many a church leader has done an effective job of trying to control their congregation through ‘contract’ preaching, changing the gospel of freedom into a condition: if you do this then God has to keep his word and do what he says.

And as the ‘people in the pews’ we don’t do a bad job either in turning the covenant into a contract and adding our own small print. Christ says to us, ‘take up your cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34). And we reply, yes, Lord, and then whisper to ourselves: here are my terms – I reserve the right to trust in myself when I deem it necessary, to retain my independence if it is threatened, to keep some habits and thoughts which are sacrosanct to me and have the right to add other items when I consider it necessary.

Words have been removed from documents by scraping them off, cutting them out, rubbing them out, tippexing over them, or nowadays just by hitting ‘delete’.  They’re all useless ways to deal with our spiritual condition. Only the sword of the Spirit will open up our minds to the light of the Spirit and illumine all that we have written in our hearts.  Only through the Spirit of Christ will we be enabled to remove forever all that we keep back from him, till we have no small print left.

Father, reveal to us our reservations and grant us the power to abandon them in responsive covenantal love and trust.

Study by Hilary Buck


hilarybuck1About the Author:
Hilary Buck attends Grace Communion in Lewes.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The Priory School
Mountfield Road

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilarybucksbox@mypostoffice.co.uk

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