Oh the silly little games we played as children before the internet! This one consisted of removing flower petals one at a time to determine the fate of your love life. If the last petal coincided with “not”, you were left loveless.
Well, apparently I dragged a little of that love-ology into my theology and until recently I was unaware just how profoundly it was hindering my faith walk.
This is so AMAZING I have to share it with you.
I confess, I am a spiritually challenged Christian at many points. I am morally challenged and I’m not being humble, just honest. Forget right now that I am a
pastor’s wife. I could site you examples from my past and you would clearly agree with me, but that would require writing a book, not a blog. Most non- Christians live a more exemplary life than I have. But back to the AMAZING info I want to share.
This morning I was reading the book Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything by Tullian Tchividjian, where he states, “The Gospel frees us from this pressure to perform, this slavish demand to “become”. The gospel literately declares that in Christ “we already are.” If you’re a Christian, here’s the good news: who you really are has nothing to do with you- how much you can accomplish, who you can become, your behavior good or bad, your strengths, your weaknesses, your sordid past, your family background, your education, your looks, and so on. Your identity is firmly anchored in Christ accomplishment, not yours; his strength, not yours; his performance, not yours; his victory, not yours. Your identity is steadfastly established in his substitution, not in your sin. As my friend Justin Buzzard recently said, “The Gospel doesn’t just free you from what other people think about you, it frees you from what you think about yourself. You’re free!”
Now you can spend your life giving up your place for others instead of guarding it from others, because your identity is in Christ, not in your place….position….or possessions.”
Isn’t that AWESOME! And if you don’t think that is biblically accurate just read Colossians and Galatians again. Although Christ’s sufficiency is everywhere in the Bible, these two New Testament books really spell it out.
The Gospel really is GOOD NEWS and that GOOD NEWS is not just for the non believer. It is also for Christians that desperately want to live to honor Christ, but feel like we fail at many points.
For so much of my Christian life I’ve trusted in the grace of God that saved me all the while living each day convinced He was slightly disappointed in my progress of becoming more like Jesus. On the days I managed to be “mostly” obedient I felt good, more loved by God. Then there were the “other” days…which were the majority, the old “He loves me not” syndrome would overcome .😬 The worse part was that good or bad the focus was on me, not on Christ, his glory or his love that would compel me to love others, but ME. 😟
Another horrible result of the “legalistic, moralistic, performancism” (as Tchividjian calls this approach) was in the assessing and monitoring of other Christians based on their performance. Ughhhhh! It’s difficult enough to monitor and stress over my own failures and successes, but I was constantly judging the progress of those I loved. For the most part it came out of a genuine concern that they “move forward” in their relationship with Christ, but it often resulted in being critical and judgmental. Of course conviction followed, but was quickly replaced by its counterfeit- self incrimination. How subtle this slippery slope of self, this vicious cycle of ME.
God started doing some AMAZING things in my life last November. He did them. Not ME. (Details to follow on another blog posting.) He also started to introduce this “grace after salvation is not just nice words in the Bible” concept to my stubborn heart through another book. (Yet, another blog.) He has used this book to hammer the truth of Galatians 3:3 “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
No. Never, Jesus! I couldn’t save myself and I can’t make myself “behave”.
Finally, for anyone who might think this AMAZING revelation might open wide the door to all kinds of wrong, selfish, greedy and immoral acts I echo Paul’s words again, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16 NIV)
When we understand and embrace the reality of God’s gracious gift of love and acceptance based on what Jesus has done and not what we have or will EVER do for Him- we are FREE! Free to love and serve out of His provision. Ahhhhhhhh! 😇 That’s just the best news ever!!!! HE LOVES ME……🌺