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TONY ELDER: God instructs us to believe, trust, love

My daughter's former bedroom in our house is slowly being transformed into a study for my wife. It provides a quiet space for Cheryl to work as she pursues her further education by taking some on-line classes.

Part of that room makeover recently involved the purchase of a desk chair. To my chagrin, Cheryl brought it home in a box emblazoned with one of those stickers reading "some assembly required". As I've previously confessed, I'm far from being the most mechanically-minded person around.

However, as I unpacked the box and looked over its contents, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this company had prepared its instructions for someone exactly like me.

Not only did the paperwork include accurate and detailed pictures showing every step to be taken, but even the bolts and other hardware were enclosed in separate packets.

And I don't mean that there was a little bag with 20 of the same kind of bolts in it, some to be used in various steps along the way. No, there was a packet labeled "step one" with just the hardware needed for that initial procedure, and so on throughout the whole process.

They were some of the simplest instructions I've ever encountered. Even I would've had a hard time getting confused. Apparently, I assembled the chair correctly, because my wife has been using it and it hasn't fallen apart -- so far.

In spite of the way some people view them or try to make them out to be, God's instructions to us are rather simple, too. Our Creator knew who was going to be opening up that Bible and reading His directions.

He knew that it would be fallible human beings who tended to be rather self-centered, rebellious and hard-headed. On their own, they would be totally incompetent in spiritual matters and incapable of putting together the kind of holy life that God intended for them.

I didn't have to be an architect or an engineer in order to put that chair together. Likewise, you and I don't have to possess seminary degrees in theology in order to live the kind of life that pleases God.

It's not about following a bunch of complicated rules that are hard to understand and even more difficult to live by. The prophet Micah narrowed down the Lord's requirements to these: "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

At the risk of oversimplifying matters, I suggest that in light of the rest of scripture, God's instructions are basically summarized in several basic concepts.

The first is "believe". Believe in Him and believe what He says.

The second concept is "trust". This goes a step further than acknowledging something to be true or factual. We need to actually step out and show that we believe by trusting God to do as He promises. We rely on Him to be our Savior, our Refuge, our Guide, our Strength, and everything else He says He will be to those who follow Him.

The third concept is "love". Jesus Himself said that God's law or instructions could be summarized by these commands: to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Certainly the picture of the Christian life is full of many more details of how our faith and obedience specifically play out in daily living. But if we're believing in Jesus, trusting in God and His Word, and are loving Him and other people, we're well on our way toward experiencing God assembling the kind of holy life He intended for us.

And such a life built according to God's instructions won't easily fall apart.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by e-mail at RevTElder@aol.com.