Matt Sturdevant: Good morning. Welcome to Hope. I'm Matt Sturdevant. I'm the executive pastor, if we've not met before. Today, we're continuing our series called The Problem Of, and we're looking at problem not from the angle of this unwanted circumstance that we're now facing, like you go out to your car and you have a flat tire, but rather a problem in the sense that there's a question raised. There's this thing we've got to deal with. We've got to come up for a solution.
And as you think about God and Jesus and the Bible and sharing your faith with others, often there are these problems or these questions that come up that we want to know how do we most effectively answer these? How do we help people get past these problems that they see?
We've got a slide here for you, so problems like last week we actually looked at hypocrisy. What do you do with the horrible things in Christianity's past and then what do you do with the people, the Christians that you've known and that you've met.
Today we're looking at the problem of exclusivity. Next week we're going to take a look at the problem of Hell and then we've got evil and suffering and the myth of Christ coming up. And we've been using this book that came out a couple of years ago called the Problem of God written by a pastor named Mark Clark and been using this as kind of the big picture outline.
In his book, Mark addresses 10 problems and we've selected the five that we think are the most helpful for us as a church to address. And we're not just simply doing a message on a chapter of the book but rather using some of the ideas presented by the author as a launching point for our own discussion that we're having here at Hope. And if you missed last week or if you miss any of the weeks, you can always check out our podcast or our YouTube channel or go to hopechurch.com and get caught up on any of the messages that we've looked at.
So, this week, though, we're going to focus on the problem of exclusivity, which really, at its core, it looks at the question, is Jesus the only way? And before we get too much farther here, I want to pray again for our time. So would you join me in prayer?
Father, thank you for the chance to get together today and look at this important question of is Jesus the only way. I ask, Father, that you would please help me to communicate clearly, effectively and accurately the things that I'm going to be sharing. And then please give us all open hearts and open minds and we ask, Holy Spirit, that you would please guide the time and guide the discussion. I asked all this in Jesus' name. Amen.
So, as I thought and prayed about today and then thought a whole lot more and prayed a lot, lot, lot, lot more about how to present this huge, gigantic topic that we're going to look at today, and we're just going to a few minutes looking at this, I was trying to think, "What's the best way to look at this in the context of a Sunday morning?" What I want to do is I want to basically present you six issues that sort of surround the big problem of exclusivity.
So, where we're going to go today is the first two issues we're going to look at are sort of the fundamental background issues. The third one, where you've got just a gap there on your listening guide, is going to be my attempt to summarize these huge, vast fields of logic and philosophy and defining terms into what do we just need to get our arms around to be able to understand this topic.
And then the last three issues we're going to look at are sort of my challenge or my suggestion to you as some next steps that you can take. How do we take this big, gigantic issue that we could leave out here as this theological, philosophical thing? How do we bring it down to where we live and how do we let it touch where we live, our daily lives and where we meet other people that we interact with?
So that's where we're going to go today. And really, what I want to do in the few minutes that we have here is not just exhaust this topic because there have been conferences, there have been volumes of books, there's all kinds of things that you can dig into further. But I want to help you understand the issues, I want to help you maybe recognize some questions that you might have or put some words to maybe some questions that those that you interact with and you've been sharing with some questions they have and then help you be pointed towards, "Hey, here's where I need to do further investigation and further study beyond this point."
And as we think about this area on this topic of exclusivity, it's kind of a funny one because there are all kinds of areas of life that we don't have any problem with exclusivity. But then as soon as we began to move towards matters of faith and religion, we just sort of throw out logic and reason, we go brain dead when it comes to exclusivity in matters of faith and religion.
And let me show you why we don't have a problem with it in other areas of life. Okay? I'm not talking to those of you who have electric cars, but if you don't have an electric car, how many of you exclusively put gasoline in the gas tank? You don't put water or soda or beer in your gas tank, right?
Well, what about your lawn? Now you might fertilize the lawn. You might fertilize it, but how do you give it regular nutrients on a regular basis so that the city allows us based on the water restrictions, right? We put water on our lawn. We don't put beer on the lawn, we don't put gasoline. I've tried that before to to deal with fire ants. The ants go away, but so does the lawn. We don't put soda on the lawn, right? We exclusively use water.
Now, how about our paychecks? I think we exclusively believe that two plus two equals four, and that math is math. And just for easy math's sake, if you work 40 hours a week and you get paid $10 an hour, you're going to expect to be paid $400, right? You wouldn't mind if the check was for $415, but you would be upset if it was for $390, because math is math.
There's matters of exclusivity in all these other areas of life. But as soon as we get to religion and matters of faith, we sort of go brain dead. And this shows us that it's not that we have a problem with exclusivity, we have a problem with certain types of exclusivity.
And before we really get serious here, I want to give you a laugh because this idea is presented in a lot of different movies. So, you might recognize this clip, but check out this clip from The Mummy. He wasn't really sure what was going to work, right? I mean there is an example of someone with an open mind that if it fits to circumstance, I'm going to try anything. And we laugh at that in the context of a movie, but there is a growing number of people that are offended by the fact if we say that Jesus is the only way, if the only way that we can be made right with God is through Jesus Christ, then you could be offended by that.
And in fact if that's the belief that you have, if that's what you say, then those who are offended by that are going to use terms like being narrow-minded, being bigoted, being arrogant or some sort of other terms that are thrown around. They're maybe not even as nice as the ones that I shared with you, that this is idea that if you hold these exclusive ideas then that's bad. We can't do that. In fact, you've got a listening guide there in your program that you can follow along with if you'd like. And again, what I want to try to get our arms around with this topic are what are the big issues that surround this topic of exclusivity.
So, the first issue is this, is that the message of the Gospel is offensive. The actual message of the Gospel is offensive. And think about this. You're cruising along in life, things are not perfect, but you're doing pretty good. And you see all the problems that other people have. And you have maybe some things that are not perfect, but you don't have problems like they have. They're the ones that are the problem and you're going around in life and then all of a sudden you hear that you do have a problem. And you understand what the problem is that the other people have, and you understand that the problem that you have is that you are a sinner and you sin. And so are these other people. And every person is a sinner, and that's the problem. And there's nothing that you can do on your own to make your situation better.
I mean, that's kind of offensive, right? The fact that that you can... It doesn't matter how much money you have, it doesn't matter how good-looking you are, it doesn't matter how much money you have given to all these great, wonderful charitable causes, it doesn't matter how much you've volunteered in the community and really served and loved people selflessly, it doesn't matter how long you meditate each day. It's offensive to hear for the first time that there's something wrong with you and you can't fix it, especially for us Americans. We don't like that.
And in fact, when we say the message of the Gospel and people hear that, they think, "Oh, well Christians, they're just so arrogant because they said that. They made that up." Guys, we're not the ones that said that. Jesus is the one that said that. Listen to what Jesus says. John 14:6. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
We're not the ones that made this up so that we could feel good about ourselves and we could try to offend other people. These are the very words of Jesus Himself telling us that He is the only way. There's nothing we can do on our own to be made right with God. He is the way. And when you think about it, when a selfish, arrogant man, woman or child is confronted with this for the very first time and you have to kind of rethink your whole life, that can be offensive.
And one of the challenges for us as followers of Christ, as we help share and present this message of truth and help show the way is we need to not be offended by someone who's offended by the truth of the message of the Gospel because they now have to rethink their whole life. What do they have to do with this truth now that they've heard it? So the first issue is just, simply, the message of the Gospel is offensive.
The next issue when it comes to exclusivity is there's really two fundamental questions that are at the root and at the core that have to be answered. And these two questions look at the problem and the solution.
So question number one, is Jesus the only savior? Are there other saviors or is Jesus it? He's the only Savior. That's the first question. And we read in Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved." So that first question is Jesus the only Savior.
The second question is making Jesus my Savior and Lord necessary to be saved. Is this what is necessary and required to be saved? And basically, the Savior looks at what Jesus did is enough, as I stand in Him now before God. And then the lord part is that not only do I stand in Him, but I walk with him and I yield my life, my agenda to His ways. So is making Jesus my Savior and Lord necessary to be saved? And we read in Romans 10:9 and 10 because if you confess your mouth, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
So, this second issue are these two foundational, fundamental questions that have to be looked at and I wanted to present them. Now we're going to come back to them in a moment, but this is one of the issues that we have to look at with this larger problem of exclusivity.
And any time you're trying to have a discussion really about anything, but especially about matters of faith, you have to make sure you're talking about the same thing. You have to define your terms.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then somewhere along the lines you realize, "I don't think that means what you think it means." You got to know what you're talking about. And a great story from the history of Hope Church here. It's a minor thing. Some of you may have heard this, but we get a lot of calls to the office throughout the week. People have questions about church. And a number of years ago, Pastor [Jerry 00:13:33] received a call. And the person on the other end of this call asked, "Is Hope a charismatic church?" And Pastor Jerry very wisely asked a follow-up question and says, "Well, what do you mean by charismatic church?" And the caller proceeds to say, "Well, do you use an organ or a keyboard?" I guess we're really charismatic this week because we're using neither. But that really illustrates the fact that we've got to know what we're talking about. And this is true in matters of faith and religion and sharing with others.
So again, what I want to do is I want to take just a moment and very lightly, quickly delve into logic, philosophy, and definitions enough to just get our hands around a couple of things. I hated logic and philosophy at one point in the past. Don't check out and go to sleep, all right? We're gonna keep this moving. But it's very important because this is one of the issues that we deal with, with the problem of exclusivity.
So, "Christians are so intolerant!" You ever heard that said? An argument people make? We're so intolerant. Well, what do you mean by intolerant? What kind of tolerance are you talking about?
Did you know? There's actually multiple types of tolerance. Let's look at them. First, there is a legal tolerance that says everyone has a point of view and should be respected for it. In fact, in case you didn't know, you live in a country that has something called the First Amendment.
It's been a while since I've looked at those documents. I've been out of school for several years, but let's take a look at what the First Amendment says. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abiding the freedom of speech or of the press or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to make a petition the government to redress of grievances." It's a lot of legal-ese, old English stuff there, right? But basically what does it mean? We have the right to gather, like we're gathering here right now and believe whatever we want to believe and talk about whatever we want to talk about.
Legal tolerance is our First Amendment rights, and I believe wholeheartedly in these First Amendments rights and we've got to support this and we've got to fight for this. This allows us to have the kind of meetings that we're having right now. So I'm 100% for legal tolerance.
Another kind of a tolerance is social tolerance. Social tolerance says that we should accept all humans as made in the image of God and relate to them with kindness regardless of what they believe. Whoever I run into, whatever they believe, they are made in the image of God and I need to relate to them with kindness because they are one of God's creations. I, 100%, support social tolerance.
Now, where we have an issue and a point of contention is intellectual tolerance. Intellectual tolerance says accepting every idea as being equally valid, good, right and true. So, we make a shift from accepting the person and them having the legal right to believe what they want to believe and accepting them as a person made in the image of God. We make a shift from that to then saying that now all ideas are equally valid, good, right and true, and that's where we step into some muddy waters. That's where we have the issue that in fact is just not rooted in reality. In fact, we know from our own life and our own experiences that some ideas are better than others. Right? You ever had what you thought was a good idea and it turned out not to be?
Okay, I am a grown man. I was once a 14-year-old boy. Those of you in the room who were once 14-year-old boys can relate to the statement I'm about to make. There was a point in your life and some of us this happened more than others where we said these two words, "Watch this." And if you were once a 14-year-old boy or you raised a 14-year-old boy, you know that what was about to come after that was not right or true or good or anything like that, especially if there were girls present or the video camera was on.
I mean, we know this, so there are different types of tolerance. What kind of tolerance are we talking about? In fact, the ironic thing is people claim that Christians are intolerant, but Christians, we are some of the most tolerant people out there because we believe everyone was made in the image of God. Everyone is someone who Christ died for. In fact, Jesus Christ was crucified by the very people that He was dying for their sins. So one of these terms is tolerance.
Another one, kind of similarly related in some aspects, is pluralism. And I'm going to take pluralism and I'm going to break it down into two different types. There is cultural pluralism and there's religious pluralism.
Cultural pluralism is kind of like this social tolerance and it's basically... I mean, America was founded on this idea of being the great melting pot. And one of the things that makes us great is we have all kinds of cultures that have come together and we can interact with these different cultures.
I mean, have you ever stopped to think about what, really, is American food? I travel overseas at different places and then people, "What kind of food do you like?" "Well, I like Italian, I like Mexican, I like this and that." And I'm trying to think, what's American food? Apple pie? I mean, but one of the great things about our country is this cultural pluralism, where we just bring all of these cultures together and we can interact and we can work together for the common good.
But again, where we run into a problem is when we reach religious or metaphysical pluralism, which has to do with what is ultimate reality, is there one ultimate reality, or are there multiple ultimate realities? And with religious pluralism, it says that all religions on their own terms are legitimate paths to God, which by the way, no one in any of the world religions actually says that or believes that or agrees with it. But it's one of these ideas that's swirling around in our culture.
Here's some interesting quotes for you. Here's a quote by a rabbi. "I'm absolutely against any religion that says one faith is superior to another." I don't see how that's any different than spiritual racism. Gandhi said, "My position is that all religions are fundamentally equal." And then the great theologian, Oprah Winfrey, says, "One of the biggest mistakes that humans make is to believe there's only one way. Actually there are many diverse paths leading to God."
You ever see this bumper sticker around town? On a social level, this is right. We live in a society where there are people with different ideas, there are different religious backgrounds and we do, on a social level, co-exist. The person who's in line at the drive-through or at Starbucks before you might be of a different faith or culture than you, but when it comes to actually looking at truth, we don't all say that they're all paths to the same.
So, this idea, it just... It doesn't work. It's not rooted in reality. So let's take this a little bit further and then we're going to bring it down to where we live. Okay, one step further. If we take those two fundamental questions that we looked at earlier of is Jesus the only Savior and is making Jesus my Savior and Lord is that's what's necessary to be saved. How do we match that up against this idea that all religions on their own terms are legitimate paths to God?
Well, the pluralists would answer no to both of those questions and say, well, Christianity and Jesus might be a way, but it's not the way. Then there's this idea of inclusivism, where we've got to include all these different ideas and that there are truths or partial truths in everything and we just want to kind of add them all together. And it might say, well, Jesus is the Savior, but we don't have to necessarily make Him our Savior and our Lord to be saved.
And then you take it down to the exclusivist point of view, is Jesus the only Savior and must I make Him my Savior and my Lord? Is that necessary to be saved? Then we're going to say yes to the answer to those two questions. That is the position of a follower of Jesus.
And in fact, I say things that they've got to be rooted in reality. Okay? Have you ever heard of the law of non-contradiction? It says that contrary propositions cannot both be true.
So here's a real basic example. I'm either wearing pants or I'm not wearing pants, but I'm not both wearing pants and not wearing pants at the same time. So the law of non-contradiction says that Oprah is wrong. She's going to say they're all basically paths leading to the same God. That is not reality because they're either all wrong, which the law of non-contradiction would say that that could be a possibility, or one of them is right and the rest of them are therefore wrong. But it's not logically possible for all paths to lead to the same place. That's just not logically possible.
In fact, I want to spend just a moment and look at one aspect of five major religions throughout the world. Okay? So what do these religions teach and say just about God? Because most would say that there is some type of God or force or something out there. So if Oprah's going to say they're all the same path, they all lead to the same place, what do these religions actually say about God?
So, Hindus acknowledge multiple gods and goddesses. So there's all kinds of gods and goddesses. Buddhists say that there's no deity. Buddhists are actually... Their religion is based on atheism. There is no God. New Age spirituality, basically everything and everyone is God. Islam, Muslims believe in a powerful but unknowable God. And then Christians believe in a loving God who created us to know Him and have a relationship with Him. So, five major religions have five very different views on God.
Take that a little bit further into, what about Jesus? Let's just look at three different views on Jesus. So Christians, followers of Jesus, say that He is the Messiah. He is the Second Person of the Trinity. Because of His work, He had been both fully God and fully man. When He hung on the cross, He died in our place. He paid the penalty for our sins and He is the one who makes a way for us to be made right with God. That's what Christians say.
Islam says that Jesus was a prophet sent by Allah, but not divine. And Judaism says that He's just an ordinary Jew. He wasn't the Messiah, He wasn't divine, just a regular ordinary guy. So, three very different views on Jesus. So it's not logical, it's not reasonable, it's not reality to look and just say all paths lead to the same place.
So what are we supposed to do with this now? What do we do with this problem of exclusivism?
Well, I know that we're all in different places in our spiritual journey. So, what I want to do here, as we move this direction now, is I want to say, how do we deal with this based on where we are? So, these next three issues, you may be dealing with this issue or you may not be. You may know someone who's got this issue that we're going to look at with these next three issues.
So, generic spirituality does not save you. This idea of there's this generic spirituality, it does not, it cannot, it will not save you.
There's another great clip from a movie that it's inappropriate to show it, but I'm going to tell you about it. Don't go home and watch this movie. I can't recommend it. It's highly funny, but it's not a good movie. It's the Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
And there's a scene where Ricky Bobby, he's a race car driver, he gets in a car crash and it's this amazing crash. And it ends and he's running around because he's on fire but it's invisible fire. Okay.
And the reason we can't show it in churches... Very quickly, he only has his helmet, his underwear on, because he's got to try to get out of the fire and he's running around. He says, "Help me, Jesus, help me, Jewish God, help me, Allah, help me, Tom Cruise. Use your witchcraft to get the fire off of me. Help me, Oprah Winfrey." I mean, again, he's going to use all the options out there. He knows he's got a problem and whatever works. It's, "Help me, everybody."
But generic spirituality does not work. Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life. He also said this, He said, "Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few."
Got a picture here to just kind of represent this. You can stay on that highway going 75 miles an hour through the broad, wide gate. It's really easy. But if you want to go the direction to actual life, you've got that narrow gate there and it's hard and it's difficult.
In fact, when people say, "Christians are so narrow-minded," we see that there is a narrow gate. There's a narrow way to life. So, also Jesus says, "I'm the door. Anyone who enters by me, you will be saved." And 1 Timothy 2:5 says, "For there is one God and there's one mediator between God and man, the man Christ, Jesus."
In Acts Chapter 10 we see this great example of how this generic spirituality doesn't work. The Acts Chapter 10 opens up. We meet a man named Cornelius. Cornelius is a Roman centurion and he's called a God-fearing man. He's a gentile, he's not a Jew. And he's God-fearing in the sense that he prays and he gives money to those in need. But then he has this vision and this angel comes to him and said, "You got to go find this guy named Peter."
And Peter is having his own experience. Here's a knock at the door. And these messengers come and they say, "Well, you got to come to our Master." And Peter shows up to Cornelius and he says, "We're here to hear what the Lord has for you." And Peter begins to tell him the message of the Gospel. He begins to tell him that Jesus is the only way. "This is how you and your family can be saved."
And we in see this example in this story with Cornelius is that generic spirituality is not enough. He believed in God and this sort of idea of God, but he didn't know the way. Those of us who follow Jesus, we know the way and it's our privilege to show the way. So Peter was required to show him the way, to take him from just this generic flavor of spirituality to actually becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.
So if that's you, if you're here and you've just sort of been wrestling generically with spirituality, I want to invite you to get off the fence. I'm not expecting you today to just say, "Yes, I believe everything you said, Matt, and I'm going to be a follower of Jesus." Don't pretend if that's not where you are. If that's where you are, follow Him today, but get off the fence of generic spirituality. Actually figure out what are your questions, what are your hang-ups, and then get answers to those questions. We would love to be a help to you if we can, to help you figure out what those questions are and answer those questions, but get off the fence of generic spirituality.
Another big issue for us, especially here in America, is this. Is that if something doesn't feel good, it doesn't necessarily mean it's untrue. It doesn't have to feel good to be true. In fact, eating vegetables doesn't always feel good, but that doesn't mean that they're not good for me.
I love chocolate chip ice cream. It feels really good to eat it, but it's not that good for me. We can't just base things off of our feelings. And the problem is, is that the Gospel is an exclusive message in an inclusive world. It's an exclusive message in an inclusive world.
And I think one of the things that perpetuates this problem for us is that we don't know how to disagree. We don't know how to civilly disagree anymore because everybody operates out of their feelings. They feel so strongly about something. We don't know logic, we don't know reason, we don't know how to sit down and have an actual discussion about something without our feelings being out there and then say, "Well, these are my ideas. These are my thoughts, and I feel strongly about them. But you know, this is what I believe in."
And then [inaudible 00:32:20], "Okay, well I appreciate that and I respect that," and we don't know how to do that. We don't know how to do that. We just continually operate out of our feelings all the time.
In fact, 1 John 1:8 says, "If we claim we have no sin, we're only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth." We just want everybody to be right all the time and ride around on unicorns. That's not reality. We don't know how to disagree.
So, some of us need to just feel the feelings that God has given us because some of us are made with more feelings and some of us are made more Spock-like. Feel the feelings that you have, but learn how to get past the feelings and not just always operate out of the feelings. Learn how to have a real discussion with someone where the feelings aren't the things that get in the way. Because again, the message of the Gospel is offensive enough in and of itself. We don't have to make it more offensive by the way that we present it and all the feelings that we bring to it. So some of us just need to learn to deal with feelings, but don't always operate out of the feelings.
And then finally there are some of us that... You're sitting here and you're like, "Matt, I'm with you 100%. Amen, amen. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. And I look around, but I just... I don't know how to talk about it. I don't know how to share it with those around me."
In fact, I think because of the cultural craziness around us, we've actually, in a sense, been caged. We don't know how to share what's gone on in our own life. And when we're sort of timid and we're fearful and that's our problem. That's our issue.
So this last issue is exclusivity calls us to be courageous and stand for the truth in the context of love. Don't be caged. Don't live in fear, but be courageous. Stand for the truth in the context of love. And courage is standing strong, even in the midst of danger or fear or difficulty. That's what courage is. You might be freaking out on the inside, but you know, I know the way and my friend, my brother, my coworker, my neighbor, they don't know the way. And I stand in courage and I share the truth. But in the context of love.
Did you know that, actually, the most kind, loving thing you can do in this world is to share Christ with someone? I mean, it's basically like if we all had this disease that's killing us and your doctor found the cure and you're now not going to die because of this disease, I mean, wouldn't you want your friends and those around you... You'd be running around saying, "You got to come see my doctor! He knows the way to life!" And that's what we have in Jesus, is that we know the way, we need to show the way, we need to take courage and show the way, speak the truth, but do it in the context of love.
In fact, one of the verses that's motivating for me personally is Romans 10:13 and 14. It says, "Anyone who calls on the Lord will be saved, but before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in Him and before they can believe in Him, they must hear about Him and for them to hear about them, someone must tell them."
We know the way. We need to share the way. And sometimes I think we mix up our role and the Holy Spirit's role. Our role is to show the way, to tell people our own story, to tell people about the Gospel. We're not responsible for how they respond in that moment or some point later. The Holy Spirit is the one that's drawing people to Himself. He's moving in their hearts.
All we have to do is share. Take those opportunities. So that's why next Sunday night we're having a difference-maker workshop. We want to help equip you and give you practical tools that you can use to share your faith, to share what Christ has done in your own life with those in your spheres of influence. Because the message of the Gospel is exclusive in an inclusive world, but here's how it works.
There's only one way to be saved. That one way, that narrow gate, that doorway is Jesus. But it's not exclusive in the sense of this country club that you got to pay these ridiculous fees to be a member or you have to have this familial pedigree that, "Oh, my family is not good enough to be in that country club." It's not like that at all. There's one way in, and anyone who will choose that way is welcome.
So it's exclusive in the way, but it's inclusive in that anyone who would choose to enter through that door, that door that is Jesus, can come in through that door. So, exclusive way in, but an inclusive crowd is welcome to come in if they will put their faith and their trust in Jesus Christ.
Let's pray. Father, thank you that while we were still sinners caught up in our own rebellion against you, that you took it upon yourself to make a way for us to come back to you, to be reconnected to you. Thank you for showing us that way and not just leaving us, wondering throughout our lives, what do we need to do to be made right with you, and just hope that in the end we've been good enough, or we've collected up enough positive things to outweigh the negative things. Thank you for being clear in what it is that we need to do, and Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us enough, loving us to the limit to pay the penalty that we owe. Please, Father, show us what our next steps are. Show us how we can obediently put one foot in front of the other and take another step towards you. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.