Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reinventing the Wheel

Today before church, a dear brother in the Lord hugged me and said (imitating Louis Armstrong's raspy voice) in my ear, "Ain't nobody love me like my Jesus love me." 

My heart leaped. That's what I've been meditating on for the past month: the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness of God that is mine through Jesus. I've been mulling over in my heart the fact that because of Jesus and His great sacrifice for me and for you and for every person that has lived or ever will live, and through the faith that He gave to believe in that sacrifice as my only way to a relationship with God, ALL of my sins - past, present and future - for all time, are ALREADY forgiven. That He sees me as pure and clean before Him because of what Jesus has already done! That the power of sin was broken on that cross, and the power of death was broken in that tomb. That I don't have to live by a set of restrictions and rules, but just gaze fully on Him, be enthralled with Him, and He will live His life out through me automatically! 

I have been noticing, therefore, that a lot of what we say in the church is a message for those who are NOT believers. The nouns and adjectives we use : sinners, wholly depraved, unclean, impure, need to be cleansed, need to repent and turn to God... all pertain to the unregenerate heart. 

Unregenerate. Not made alive. Pre-salvation. 

The problem is, as Christians living in an unregenerate world, we still feel the weight of sin plaguing us, we still feel unworthy, and somehow it transfers onto us. We get the idea that "we're in the Light now so we had better mind our p's and q's." Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Paul called this kind of "Jesus-and" thinking "falling from grace." (See Galatians 5:4 - "Christ has become of no use to you, you who are seeking to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.") 

It's like trying to reinvent the wheel. (Or like trying to build a brand new car from the raw materials of iron ore and sand to make the glass in the windows .... when there is a perfectly good, functioning car in the driveway!) Jesus IS the wheel, beloved. The work has already been done!! He said, "It is finished!" and it was so. There is nothing any less complicated than that. 

Photo "Wedding Day Thoughts" by
Timeless Photography at
The enemy has deceived the church for so long, bound her up, and made her doubt her position in Jesus Christ. He's driven it home with suggesting (sometimes successfully) unbiblical practices like self-flagellation (that's when people used to whip themselves to purge their own sins or do penance.) Now before you get all superior and tell me that we don't do that anymore, I say YES WE DO. We beat ourselves up all the time!! And the only one rubbing his hands in glee at all this is the devil. He's deceived us ... and this is how: he's warped the glorious truth of the Good News into something about duty and obligation and guilt. It was never intended to be so, dear sisters and brothers. It was meant to be about love and forgiveness and grace ... about gratitude and worship and freedom

He's twisted the amazing grace of God into something that must be accessed every time a Christian feels "far from God." He's hoodwinked us into believing that if we don't "feel" right with Him, then it must be us who moved and we need to ASK His forgiveness, some would say even to BEG for it. The truth is that He's already forgiven us, and has declared us as righteous as God!! ("He has made Him (who knew no sin) to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." - 2 Cor. 5:21). We who belong to Jesus are clothed in righteousness, dressed in white like a bride. We are indeed "new creations." (vs. 17). Made anew. Regenerated.

The truth is that if we have accepted by faith Jesus' sacrifice for us as our only way for a relationship with God, (through the faith that God Himself provides for us and because God has taken the initiative and drawn us to Himself) God's grace is ALL AROUND us, permeating every part of our existence, as much a part of us as the air we breathe. 

What kind of relationship would a bride have with her groom if she were to say to him on their wedding day, "Just give me the rules and I'll follow them because I don't want you to ever leave me." NO! The groom loves his bride, loves her so deeply that he would die for her. (And Jesus DID, by the way!) In the face of that kind of love, there is no need for rules. Love begets love - fear is gone and freedom has taken its place. There is no desire to look elsewhere; there is no thought of abandonment. 

And that is our relationship with Jesus our bridegroom. Unconditional, passionate, lavish love - far more and far greater than we could ever imagine. 

Why would we go back to a rulebook when we have Him?

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