The reason the world is turned off by Christianity isn’t because we, as Christians, aren’t good enough. It’s because we are very flawed but we present ourselves as if we are perfect, so we are fake. Glorified actors, who really have no idea who they are or what they really have to offer. Going through the motions. Doing what we believe looks like what a good Christian should be doing, what is acceptable in the religious community but to the world looks like fakery. Religion has essentially bound us to expectations and perfectionism. In some cases since early childhood. So much so, that our creativity and individual expression havent been allowed to blossom. The problem is that the world sees through it, teenagers see through it and anyone who thinks sees straight through this act. How are we as believers freed from expectations, preconceived ideas, perfectionism and being fake? Actually the message of the New Covenant authenticates the reality of our Christian walk. Grace frees you to be very real, because you see that it’s all about Jesus anyway, and now you can relax. Then you are faced with “now what” because for so long your actions have been determined by religion and now you are free to be you. All that you are left with is the expression of life that Christ can live through you and only you. Are you good with that if it looks different or if it sounds foreign to the religious ear? You are His workmanship, not the the religious establishment. What would that even look like? It’s a great big surprise but I can promise you that He will be seen. This is what the world groans for, not our fake smiles and politics. The world craves Jesus.
The majority of my Christian walk has been riddled with wild and exciting expectations. With every new revelation came a fresh sense of revival or rapture. Every unveiling brought a goal of something dramatic and big. I remember sitting at the edge of my seat as a young woman thinking that I could be one revelation away from walking right into Heaven. I’m serious. These expectations kept me hungry, in fact I think they were even a little addicting. But it wasn’t really a hunger for Jesus it was a hunger for something more. The promise of a big event, a big feeling, something more and something better. That was where the excitement was found.
Even in practical life there was an expectation of more. More money, more health, more happiness. I had been conditioned to expect it. But what I’ve learned is that more is never enough. The more you have, the more you want. And that mentality is exhausting. In it there is no contentment. In fact, contentment, is a bad word. But it’s not.
For me this New Covenant understanding has been something completely new, fresh and exciting, because it shines such a blinding light on the biggest event of all time, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It actually completely disarms my need for drama, because I can’t think of anything more dramatic than what has already been done. I mean God will do what He is going to do regardless of my expecting it or not, but if I don’t know what He has already done I am robbed of the joy of completion in that work, the understanding of the deepest kind of love possible, and the total freedom in who I am today.
If God never did anything else (and I am not saying He won’t) I could spend a lifetime utilizing what He already did. I believe we have only experienced the tip of the iceberg, the cherry on the top of the chocolate cake of redemption.
I am so thankful for what He did and this new covenant of grace that I am able to walk in every day. I am thankful for the freedom and peace that it has brought. For the surety of a love that is bigger than my mind could ever grasp.
Have you ever studied christianity as a way to live? If you’ve gone to church I’m sure you have. Often we hear ministers quote great educators and speak of social change. We have learned positive thinking techniques that are designed to lead us to health and wealth. Although all of these are interesting and have a degree of truth to them they are not really any different than any of the world religions. You can choose your philosophy or political view in the confines of your own head, but none of these are the gospel. Some of these are good news but they are NOT the gospel.
What sets the gospel a part from the religions of the world is that Jesus came to give us LIFE. He came to restore the missing part. No message of self improvement, social justice, or philosophy can put life into a human spirit. We stand as believers in possession of a treasure. A shining light of life to offer a world full of darkness yet we spend our time focused on self improvement, social justice and how to make and keep wealth. This leaves the believer without the basic understanding of the very treasure that now lives within them, LIFE. It also fails to offer the world the only cure for their darkness.
Life isn’t what you do, it isn’t how you live, it is Who lives within you. It is what makes this gospel unique. If the believing body knew what they actually possess now, which is the very life of Christ, their lives would be transformed from earthly minded bits and pieces of self improvement to a Heavenly rest within whatever social, political, financial situation they face. The indwelling Christ is the hope of glory. I feel like we haven’t even begun to touch on this Life that lies within and yet it is the greatest single revelation for social justice, self improvement and world change possible.
Not feeling all that poetic
But having much to say
From a passion rising briskly
Like the ocean to the bay
Is the love of Christ my Savior
As my eyes are opened wide
To His mercy and His kindness
And the life He does provide
So complete is His provision
So entire is His being
That it feels the nooks and crannies
And awakens me to seeing
Even with my body weakened
And on earth I live today
His life is like the ocean
And my life is like the bay
It will never be depleted
It will never cease to be
It’s a life that lives forever
It’s His life that lives in me.
So I rest in this knowing
I am righteous, I am pure
I am ever in His pleasure
And poetically secure.
In response to a ministers attempt to tackle the issue of sin:
Thank God that in Christ God dealt with our sin. Not just the sins prior to Christ but all of them. He even dealt with the nature of sin that was left to us from Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22) and the sin that is a result of the weakness of our flesh (Romans 7:24-25).
The old covenant dealt with each individual sin through the law, but this could never bring righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:22) we now live our lives in a perpetual state of forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7) and in eternal righteousness with God because we are In Christ.
James 4:17 says simply “sin is knowing what you should do and refusing to do it”. In our American culture there are certain sins that repulse people and the church has a hard time loving people in that kind of sin. But it is those very people that Christ died for (Romans 5:8). I heard someone say, but once they come to Christ then they have to change. Ideally yea, but not everyone will and if they don’t does Christ forgiveness stop? Does the blood payment get returned as insufficient? The answer is “No”.
As a brother or sister in Christ begins to grow in grace and an understanding of who they are in Christ the natural progress will be change. When that time comes there are counselors and teachers that are there to help. But if that change were to never ever happen Christ blood is still sufficient, and the forgiveness that he bought continues forever.
Rather than focusing on how the broken people need to be set straight. Perhaps we should ask ourselves how can we see the broken from the eyes of mercy and grace. To bind their wounds and give them a place to heal. Instead of being repulsed by their sin we need to love them as Christ said in John 15:12 “My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you”.
There is a beautiful story in 2 Samuel 9 about a boy named Mephibosheth. He was the only son of David’s blood brother Jonathan. David had a covenant with Jonathan and I believe David is a type of Christ. After the death of Saul (the king) and Jonathan David ascended to the throne and Vs3 of 2 Samuel says this “is there not someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the (unfailing, unsought, unlimited) mercy and kindness of God? Ziba replied, Jonathan has a son who is lame in his feet (in other words he cannot walk this out). David immediately went out to get this boy, brought him back to his house, set him at his table and he lives forever as a child of the King. Vs 13 says “so Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the Kings table, even though he was lame in both feet.
I tell you this story to say that the covenant that we have today is sufficient for all even those who may never walk it out. That is the heart of our loving God. That is how much greater the work of Christ is than that of Adam, than the work of Moses and greater than your finest effort to clean up people’s mess.
That is why we don’t need to worry about sin…
For by the death He died, He died to sin[ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life He lives, He lives to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].
Here’s a bit of brutal honesty. Try as I may, I seem to say something dumb at least once a week. It’s not intentional. It’s born of frustration or emotion and although it’s hard to admit, sometimes it’s just ignorance. Am I alone in this? I think not…I hope not.
The most challenging times are in the passenger seat while my daughter is driving, or in a department store trying to convince her that the lesser expensive pair of sweatpants are equally as good as the ridiculously expensive sweatpants. Truth be told, the expensive sweatpants are probably better, but heck, they are sweatpants and they are ridiculously expensive! So in the heat of the argument I say something that seems appropriate to me but painfully hurtful to her.
Unfortunately my brain doesn’t register, “inappropriate” until she hits back with a verbal upper cut. Suddenly we both find ourselves suffering from emotional internal bleeding. Then it all goes quiet and I know I’ve done it again. I know I’ve spoken out of the heat of the moment instead of the truth.
Once the arguing stops, I explain my point of view. We argue some more and finally I apologize…again. I say “again” because this ain’t my first rodeo. Once we stop and listen to each other, I mean really hear each other out, it ends up in forgiveness. But there is still a deep sense of shame and regret that I’m not aware enough to avoid these mis-steps.
Then I think about my Heavenly Father and the fact that His plan made allowance for my humanity. As if He knew somehow that in the eons of time Wynema and Hannah would need a lot of grace. That because of the blood of Jesus I am allowed to make mistakes and my daughter is allowed to desire the expensive sweatpants and I am allowed to tell her “no”. The emotions of the moment are still real, the words just as painful. But at least I know it’s going to be good, it’s all ok. I think as His grace is working in me, it can work through me toward Hannah or whomever happens to need it at the moment. And hopefully through Hannah toward me who need grace quit consistently. I’m growing, she’s growing, all God’s children should be growing in Grace.
I sigh from relief
Now my mind can rest
The work is complete
Give me a spiritual blood test.
Cause I’ve been re-gene-arated
That old man Is dead.
That old way of doing things
That depended on me
Was cut out, extracted, and hung on a tree.
And what came alive the day I believed
Was a life so perfect so connected with God
That people either applaud or call it a fraud.
But I know the truth, I’m confident and sure
That the life I’ve been given it’s like haute couture
It’s like a direct line from Heaven
Like peace undefined,
Like organic and holy like a branch and a vine.
So don’t worry, or doubt but rest in this fact
That the mysteries been solved,
the code has been cracked
Your not whack, So stand up put your shoulders back
You’re the righteousness of God, so walk like a boss
Cause it’s all about Jesus and what he finished at the cross!
June 18, 2014