Monday, December 15, 2008
I have been reading the book, Devotions for the Man in the Mirror. I know, it's supposed to be a book for guys, but I happened to glance in it when I brought it home for my Hubby, and was intrigued, and.....well, I can't put it down! It's VERY challenging!! (and it doesn't seem that there's anything that pertains only to men in it). Anyway, the other day I was reading the chapter (15) entitled "Jesus: Commitment to a person versus a set of values" and somewhere in the middle of reading this, I could almost hear brakes squealing (in my mind) as everything suddenly came to a stop, and I had to sit there, look around me with deer-in-the-headlights look, and get myself refocused! Basically, this chapter is saying that we do not have the power to simply imitate Christ; we only have the power to believe and follow after Him. Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." It is not the way of Christ that leads to everlasting life, it is the Person of Christ!! We are called to live by faith in the unseen (our salvation unearned but in FULL) rather than things seen (doing good, having good morals). The end of the chapter summed it up with this, "If you live by sight, you will lose the joy of your salvation."(Are you too, hearing tires squealing? Good! But keep reading!!) So then, if all that's true, (and it has to be true, because that's what is written time and again in the Bible, that our salvation through Christ comes ONLY by belief in Him), how can I continue on doing the WWJD challenge? Yikes!! I needed to wrestle that thought, needed to see not separate pieces, but rather, how the pieces fit together, because surely this commitment was a serious one, a life changing one. So each morning, before getting up, I'd stay there in bed and lay it all before my Abba and ask HOW? How can all this go together? What does it mean to follow Christ if our actions are not chosen in imitation of Him? God's answer was to keep reading, so I did. Chapter 18, titled, "Eternal Life: The Undone Thing" centers around the story of the rich young ruler (Matthew19:16-21). He is looking for that one key, he truly wants eternal life, but he wants it on his terms, on his own merit. He has lived by the commandments set forth in the Old Testament, but he knows something is missing. Jesus then tells him that the one and only way to be "perfect" (deserving of heaven) is to lay aside ANYTHING that stands in the way of him following Jesus. For this man, it was his material possessions. He was willing to surrender only up to a point, and that point was his wealth, that's where he drew the line. And it wasn't the possessions themselves that were a hindrance, but rather, his attitude about them. So then, there is nothing we can do to deserve heaven, as Christ has already done it in full for us. So we simply must be willing to sacrifice all, lay anything and everything aside that has any hold on our heart, in order to follow Christ. (at this point, for me anyway, the puzzle pieces still weren't coming together, but at least I knew they were all part of the same puzzle!) So then, this morning I read chapter 19, "Assurance: Assurance of Salvation". It began by talking about our need for approval, we all want to hear "well done" from those who matter most to us. We work hard to get that approval and we think that just like any other relationship, God is requiring us to work hard to earn His approval. Well, the fact of the matter is, the instant you first surrendered to Him, He approved you unconditionally!! One of my favorite quotes from a pastor friend in Louisiana (and as I've told some, when I first heard it, it REALLY bothered me....something else I needed to wrestle with in my mind) "God will never love you any more or any less than He does at this very moment." WHAT?? I can't do anything to make Him love me more? Then God helped me to see that I wasn't understanding the greatness of His love. I was limiting it when it was limitless. It is then I realized that I don't have to try with God. All He truly asks of me is to believe in Him. My actions then become a sign of gratitude, of faith, and of belief. If I truly believe Him, then I can willingly walk the path He sets before me because I know that I can trust Him. My actions aren't done to prove my love, they are done simply because of my love.(*Snap! The pieces suddenly come together!!) So, my commitment to WWJD is NOT to become a better person, but rather it is to walk out my faith! I get it now!! So when a cost is required, that's fine, because I'm walking by faith. I know that my God is limitless in His love for me, so what can all these temporal things matter to me? The only cost required was paid in full. There is NO price greater than that one! Even if I die, it is a gain, it is eternal life. Christ went to hell to make sure that those gates could no longer hold me in! Wahoo!!