Monday, January 9, 2012

Just Jesus

"That's all it takes, Mike?  Just Jesus?  Just ... Jesus?" And Mike replied with just one word... "Yup."

"Just Jesus" is the stumblingblock, the Scandalon, the rock of offense that Paul talked about.  It's wild and crazy grace, the kind that is totally unconditional to the one who accepts into his or her inner being, who applies to his or her total inability to live in perfection, the substitutionary death of Christ as perfect payment: once for all time and every missed bull's-eye ... past, present and future. 

Image taken from : and
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This kind of life belief flies in the face of organized religion. Religion is all about rules and keeping people in line from the application of external boundaries.  "Fence them in. Keep them busy. Exhaust them so they don't have time to get out of line." But this - this "grace thing" is about relationship, friendship with the Creator.  The sacrifice of the Supreme Agent of Creation, the God of the universe in human form, was more than enough to pay the penalty for every sin of every person that has ever lived or ever will live.  Every single one... just let your mind wander for a minute or so to the heinous atrocities that have been committed down through history - and a lot of them have been (and are) in His name.  That scandalous grace was available without reservation to even those people.  It still is available to the ones who continue today to dole out cruelty and hatred.  

Can we imagine, then, how ludicrous it is to God to have us come to Him and receive such a great and undeserved gift, only to turn around and say, "Thanks, God - I'll take it from here, I can follow the rules now"?? 

It's still Just Jesus.  It always was and it always will be.

"As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord," wrote Paul, "so walk in Him."  That's by grace.  It's a daily dependance on Him, a relationship that permeates every fiber of our being and works on us from the inside out.  The chains of religion drop from us more and more as we learn more and more the truth of this great, extravagant, wasteful, scandalous, no-strings-attached, exuberant grace.  

In the reality of such a great gift, gratitude and love have us in their grip.  We don't need the rule book; we have something better than that.  We have the same God who moved on the face of the waters at creation, the same One who directed Jesus' life and ministry while He was here, the same One who raised Him from the dead, the same One who blazed inside of the apostles and the early church members, living inside of us.  Not just resting on us, where He could leave at any moment (which is why David prayed that prayer 'Take not Your Holy Spirit from me'), but inside, changing our spiritual DNA, wooing our spirits, calling us to intimacy with Him, and giving us a storehouse of power upon which to draw.  

And He points to only one.  
It is Jesus. Jesus plus zero.  
Just Jesus.

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