Reconcile – One Step Closer
*preface* This may be too transparent for some of you. If you have an image of a crispy clean young man who’s “on fire” for God, read with caution if at all…
There are many times (really all the time) when I just pause at the idea of me being a Christian. I’m so much more morally bankrupt than those unsaved people around me. I stumble into pride, lust, hypocrisy, gluttony, laziness and foolishness often…there are folk who if they had my shoes would be doing much better morally, I know it. I know it because they are in situations much worse than me and are much more moral than I am. The fact that God’s mercy is new every morning is still not fully grasped in my heart, which is a lack of faith, another testament of my shortcomings and God’s grace in spite of myself.
I really don’t NEED to hang around folk. My desire and idolization of acceptance pushes me to hang around folk, but my other idol of self dependence and secrecy push me to be alone. Even when I play spades with folk, often my aim is to win and big up myself, not simply enjoy community. A thing as simple and seemingly innocent as spades becomes a prop to the idol of self preservation and improvement… I glory in being a winner, in being right, even in a stupid game of cards.
As much as I rail against the unloving self righteous pseudo Christian, I am extremely unloving to those people, or people I self-righteously judge to be so, making me just as bad as those I tweet/preach/facebook against. “Oh, I get on your nerves? Then don’t talk to me, it’s not like you’re adding anything to my growth. You don’t like how I preach? Well forget you then, if you knew the Gospel you’d like it. I don’t need your community or your love, I do well just by myself.” The same arrogant, entrepreneurial, hypocritical Christianity I preach against I myself find myself living in with sprinkles of “Gospel-centeredness” on top.
I work hard. Very hard. 3-5 jobs hard. I justify it by saying I’m giving it and saving it to plan for a family that will glorify God. I hardly give to the local church as much as I budget initially, and even when I do I battle a fierce beast of pride and self righteousness. I don’t look to the fact that Jesus has established me through His work on the Cross because I look at my own work and think I am established, or at least close. I fail to work out my salvation with fear and trembling and instead work to fill my pockets with fearless pride. I justify who and how valuable I am through the jobs and money I have saved, the things I can afford on my own, failing to realize God is the one who gave me everything to earn what I don’t even give back to Him.
….I could go on. But pause and think about this: God through Himself saved me knowing I would be where I am and loves me enough to continue to not leave me or forsake me, but in fact sanctify me. He continues to reign down on my life…mercies and grace. My life doesn’t make any sense in a karma sense. In fact, I deserve death, but God in the blood of my own menstrual rags of righteousness said live…I am so nobody. No..body. But Jesus is Somebody and was Somebody for me on the Cross dying and raising for me…freeing me from living up to the expectations presented by my parents, society, even the expectations set by myself. Those character flaws listed are not up to me to correct because they have been paid for on the Cross. Even me re-realizing my identity in Jesus and submitting to the Spirit is done through the mind of Christ given to me by Christ. Thankful.
Please pray for me. I want to love more, submit more, lead more….die more to live more.
I love you.
My aunt is in the process of building a house, yet before she even breaks ground she’s had to meet with 15 various contractors. Each contractor she meets with has a specialty, and she’s looking for the perfect combination of skills so that her house is exactly to her liking. In Exodus, the construction of the first temple is wondrously detailed, but instead of a team of contractors, God used the Israelites.
In chapter 35 of Exodus God commissions His contractors in the beastiest way. He picks His guys, and then fills them with the Holy Spirit, giving them intelligence, knowledge, craftsmanship skills, designing skills, and engraving skills. He then gives these men teaching skills so that they can show others their craft and pass on these skills. Exodus 36:1 reads…
“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”
The fact that these men had this skill and intelligence after the Lord put Himself inside of them, should lead us to think that these skills were probably non-existent or super underdeveloped before they were inhabited with the Holy Spirit. These men were literally working by the power of God, it wasn’t really even them. And the hope was that they would use their skill, in accordance with the command of the Lord, building His dwelling place.
But see the Israelites were building a physical temple. After the cross, the commission that the Lord left for His people was once again to build up His temple. Yet this temple, this church, is an intangible one. It is not a place, it is a group of people who have decided to place their faith in Jesus Christ, for His dwelling place is now inside of us.
I believe we all have gifts, things we’re skilled at and different things that we are passionate about. But unfortunately, we let talents lay idle while underneath the surface there is a sea of vibrancy that if only it was allowed, it would flood a dark world with the colors of Life.
Maybe we’re content to just slide by, finding it convenient for us to never get involved, don’t have to go to practices and won’t have to work at developing our skills, so we skirt responsibilities. Or maybe it’s our pride that says our gift isn’t good enough to be shown, so we keep it locked up. Either way, at the end of the day we have a pretty long list of fleshy excuses. In Exodus 36:1 it says that these gifts are gifts from God, and that they were given to do ANY WORK in the construction of the temple, even if that work includes the smallest behind the scenes task.
The most satisfying moments in ministry that I can remember were all focused around a time when the people involved died to themselves. They killed their personal desires, their pride, their fear, and their personal agendas and allowed the Holy Spirit to work through them, using their incredibly different gifts to spread God’s fame. The most satisfying moments in ministry were centered on folk giving their utmost to He who is the utmost. And this isn’t a guilt trip for people who fail to serve or fail to use their gifts, because above feeling guilty I want you to grasp the desire to do ministry to the fullest by taking your God given skill or talent and developing it into something used to lead men to the cross.
So, I have a story:
On my daily excursion to a University of Houston Cafeteria (go coogs), I saw a young devout man praying to….well for the intensive purposes of this blog we will say “his god.” As the picture shows, he had his head down, his rug laid out, and he was talking to allah for about 5 minutes. I stood silent in the middle of the cafeteria with my mouth slightly agape.
May I Be Honest?
I was bothered. I mean this person one minute is eating, then his timer goes off and he pulls out a mat in order to pray on it in front of everyone. Afterwards, he gets up and gets on his cell phone…? I mean, come on! But then I felt #convicted. This is religion and make slaves of so many, and only by God’s grace am I free.
How is religion a slave master?
Religion is about doing things for the sake of being in good with your god, be it prayer, church attendance, avoidance of “big sins”, giving your time, money, talent…it is all a desperate, devout, serious and some times painful plea so that your god can say “well done my good and faithful servant.” There is no relationship, there is no love, there are simply rules that you do your damnedest to follow, so that you will not be damned.
So yeah, even though I know all of this, I did nothing. In my passive arrogance and hate took the picture, shrugged my shoulders and sat down and ate some food, probably some pork to spite this guy indirectly- I cannot remember (but I probably did).
What I Should Have Done
I should have told him there is a God (the true God) that is amazingly powerful. So powerful that He did the unthinkable, and that in that unthinkable power and love, He sent Himself in flesh to live a perfect life for us to meet the standard of perfection that He Himself set long ago, before forever ago, by the simple nature of who He is. Not only did this God (the true God) do that, but also allowed Himself to be put under His own wrath for all the wrong that we have done so that we could escape punishment.
But wait, there is more: Remember that perfect life He lived? He gave it to those who turn away from their sin and believe in Him, so there is no more performance required because not only have you been forgiven, but you have also been given the righteous righteousness of GOD. So the good things you do are not out of fear or merit and demerit, but out of the love from the relationship you are now in, through Him.
*But remember, I did not say any of that, or anything like that.
I pray that I see him again, better yet I pray someone tells him about the True God. If I do seem him again, hopefully I will have the courage and love to tell him because this is truly Good News. I pray for those of you who know this Good News to tell folks about it. Also, I pray if you are in the same boat as those under religion that you see the God (again the true God) that loves you and sent Himself in flesh (#Jesus) to die so that you may not only live, but live more abundantly.
Do Me A Favor? Turn Off Your Lights…
Now grab some incense…maybe some rose petals, get some chocolate and play this video.
Now That I Got You In The Mood, Read This…(Emphasis and Color added)1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (English Standard Version) 9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Canton Jones in the song’s hook says, “you’re cute but not cute enough for my salvation” he also says “see ain’t nobody worth me goin’ to hell.”
This is not a slug against CJ, I enjoy (some) of his music, but the theology here is horribly incorrect.
Much like the people in Corinthians, even though they were presently doing things that don’t merit folk getting into heaven, that is not who they were. Verse 11 says they were justified in Christ. Again, these people did what they were accused of, but that doesn’t make them what they were accused of.
But what is justification?
Justification means that not only were you forgiven of what you did wrong, but you were given goodness. The goodness of who? Well the goodness of Jesus Christ my friend. 😉 <– (that’s a sexy wink)
Maybe an example of what Justification is?
Okay, so let’s say you’re in debt. Like…1,000,342,435,398,534 dollars in debt. You’ll never be able to pay it off and that’s a big deal because if you can’t pay it off..then well… you’ll die. So you get a call and your bank tells you someone has payed your debt, all of it is gone. So now your at 0 dollars. Good right? Yeah! So you’re hopping around happy that someone had paid off all this cash for you, but then the bank says that the same person has put
951,356,363,345,565,989,989,645,456,546,045 dollars in your account. So not only has your debt been paid, but you’ve been given unlimited riches! So now, your a quad-gabillion-zillionaire!! With all of these riches, do you think you would go eat in the sewer, play in the mud, or drink box wine? Of course not! That doesn’t match the identity you are now in with the riches you have been given!
So the issue isn’t that having sex outside of marriage will threaten your salvation, but more so that sex outside of marriage doesn’t match the identity you now have with what (or should I say who) you have been given. You don’t do those things because you simply don’t do them. One wouldn’t ask Bill Gates why he doesn’t eat out of the trashcan, he’s rich case closed. And if one did happen to see Bill Gates eating out of the trashcan what would they say, that he’s poor? No! He may be acting like he’s poor, or maybe he simply forgot all the riches he has. Let us not run and do things out of the identity we have been given. Let us remember the cross of Christ who “suffered all the stripes for the lawless types” – (Shai Linne). He died for us then gave us His perfection so that we are made perfect in the eyes of God while still being perfected/sanctified.
Please remember: there’s nothing you can do to beat/smash/becky/etc. on your salvation.