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Don’t Just Say No

“Hey David.  Would you like to join us tomorrow night?”  “No.  I can’t make it.  Maybe next time.”  This simple interaction reveals a pervasive lie in all of our lives.  Yes, the response is very polite.  Yes, defining this polite response as a lie might be seen by you as a stretch.  For I didn’t make up something like, my father was sick, as the reason for not joining in.  I simply said that I couldn’t make it.  Here is where the lying part kicks in.  It isn’t that I couldn’t make it. The truth is this: I didn’t want to make it.  For if I did want to make it, I would have found a way to make it.  I would have changed my plans.  I would have borrowed the money.  I would have made the time.  All of us will do whatever it is that we need to do, in order to do something that we truly want to do.  Our want to is a very powerful thing.  Just look at our successful credit industry.  Our want to is so powerful that we are not only willing to, it has become the accepted norm to, buy something at a much higher price.  Why?  Because we want to.

Our want to is directly connected to our sin-stained nature of instant gratification.  We not only want to, we want to right now.  The world’s answer to this instant gratification, want to right now desire, is to teach us to “Just say no.”  Just say no to drugs.  Just say no to cheating.  Just say no to impulse buying.  Just say no to that next drink.  And so on.  Well, if you haven’t been up to speed on current events, the “Just say no” strategy has failed.  In fact, it was doomed from the start.  For if we could just say no to anything that was destructive, harmful, dangerous and costly in our lives, we all would have done it a long time ago.  Just say no fails because it doesn’t come close to dealing with our want to.  Not until we transform our want to, will any of us ever be able to just say no.

Just saying no is also called behavior modification.  The idea is that if you change your behavior, you will transform your want to.  Again, if you and I could transform our want to, by simply modifying our behavior, than every person who diets would be successful.  Every person who tries to quit smoking would be successful.  Every addiction would be conquered.  Every gaze would be successfully averted.  And all of us would be able to live happy, healthy and complete lives.  Sadly, behavior modification is not the answer.  Don’t get me wrong, there are areas in all of our lives in which we must modify our behaviors.  But behavior modification will never be a completely successful method of lasting change in your life.

This is precisely why God isn’t all that concerned with what you do.  I know that flies in the face of what you have been taught.  You have learned that God is like Santa Claus.  “He sees you when you are sleeping.  He knows when you are awake.  He knows if you’ve been bad or good.  So, be good for goodness sake.”  The truth is this: God is way more interested in transforming your want to as opposed to legislating what you do.  For God knows that once you transform your want to, your actions, what you actually do, will fall in line.  In fact, God has lived this reality out, right in front of all of us.

Did you know that God didn’t need to come as Jesus, in order to save the world?  God could have simply spoke salvation into existence.  After all, if God can speak and create the universe, speaking our salvation into reality would be no problem.  So, why then did God come as Jesus, as the method of our salvation?  God came as Jesus because he didn’t want to do our salvation. like some sort of eternal behavior modification.  He came as Jesus so that each and every single one of us would make the decision to want to be saved.  The very life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus was the living out of God’s desire to transform your want to.  God wants you to want him.  (Cheap Trick pun intended!)