How do you spell RELEASE?
You know the Rolaids commercials about "How do you spell RELIEF?" And they respond with "R-O-L-A-I-D-S?" Well.... last night I was preaching away in our second December Nights celebration at the BCM at Virginia Tech. It was packed. We had a special worship team in from Brentwood Church in Lynchburg led by Nic Carver. The stage was set for a momentous evening.
Until I reached my conclusion...
Let me back up a little.
We've focused our evenings around the Advent themes. Last night was about Peace, and the message was "Peace Follows Release." We began by allowing Linus to read Luke 2 -our focal passage:
The interesting thing about that passage is how the King James Version says "Peace on earth, goodwill to men." Most modern translations recognize that another alternate meaning is essentially "peace on earth to whom God is pleased." In other words, God's peace is conditional.
The angels weren't pronouncing world peace at all, after all.
In fact, that little baby that they announced would later pronounce "Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth..." (Matthew 10.34)
Was there a discrepancy between the promise of the angels and the mission of the Messiah?
That was the theme of the message. We looked at what Scripture describes as the person who pleases God. Hebrews 11.6 says, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God..."
The apostle Paul says in Romans 5.1 that since we are "justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
It is the person of faith that pleases God, in other words. Peace on earth is promised to those who in faith believe and love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, strength and souls. Peace on earth is not an amorphous promise. It's succinct. It's specific. Peace is promised, yes, but only "among those with whom he is pleased." (ESV)
Those who release their lives to Christ find peace from Him. It is only through faith - trusting God instead of ourselves or others (or our things) that we find release.
And here's where the Rolaids analogy comes in.
I played with the word RELEASE in my conclusion. I rarely do this, and it's cheesy, but I used each letter to represent what we should release to Jesus.
R - Relationships. As Jesus said in the Matthew 10.34 passage, we should not allow any earthly relationship to compare to our love for Him.
E - Expectations. All ______ (anger, frustration, worry, anxiety, etc.) is the result of unmet expectations. We need to release our expectations to the Lord.
L - Lesser Loves. Anything good that demands our attention, time and effort is still a lesser love when compared to Christ. We need to recognize them for what they are - idols - if they come between us and our allegiance to the Lord.
E - Ego. Our pride and our relentless commitment to ourselves needs to be released. James 4.10 urges us to "humble ourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."
S - Stuff. I know it's not sophisticated or eloquent. But we all let stuff interfere with our love for God. Our possessions, our time, our checkbooks, our financial goals. We must release these in order to discover the peace that comes from God.
E - Experiences. Whether it's past successes or failures, fantastic heights or stunning hurts, we cannot allow our experiences to define our obedience. We must release them all before the Father.
There you have it... except for the "A." The A was "Attitude. We cannot allow a skewed perspective or negative viewpoint to hinder us from following Christ in faith. Our attitude can dramatically alter our ability to enjoy God because it reveals we cherish our emotions more than our Messiah."
However, last night, I just missed it in my notes. Completely.
Most folks didn't catch it (or were gentle enough to overlook it). Others were quick to assume that was the Arkansas spelling of RELEASE. And they pointed that out with great glee.
Fortunately, the Lord used it anyway. (I hope and trust.)
It's not really important that you can spell "release" in all actuality. It's just crucial that you can do it.