Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sin and Guilt and Redemption and Peace.

Hi. Well. I think I'm just going to jump right in.

I have been thinking about guilt a lot lately. I've been thinking about sin and grace and redemption and justification, and how all of that works together.
James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2). I think of it this way: If we don't have enough faith for Christ's will and commands to affect our lives, do we have any faith at all? It makes me think of Revelation 3:16. God would rather have our true devotion or our rejection than a faith so small that it does not even affect our lifestyle.
So, considering this passage, I have been very aware of my guilt. My sins have weighed heavily on me and have been hard to carry. Each time I stumble, I think, "Do I not have enough faith to follow God here?" This, I think, is good in a way. It seems rare that I actually feel my guilt; I am always excusing myself with my sin nature and with God's grace. But, it is important for there to be balance. If we focus only on our guilt and bury ourselves entirely in the fact that we have offended God, we will be blinded to God's most beautiful gift: redemption.
1 Corinthians 15:56+57 says, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Then, verse 58 says, "Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain!"
(I added the !s, but how could I not?)
Jesus has conquered sin! He conquered it by giving us His marvelous grace. He freed us from sin by freeing us from guilt. BUT, like Paul points out, our freedom from guilt is no excuse to continue in sin. Jesus has conquered sin, and He has broken it and its power over us. We are free to sin no more!
And, despite the times we fall down, our redemption is sure.
This song has been encouraging me a lot lately: listen.

I am praying through a prayer book compiled by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. Today's prayer finds me right where I am. I want to reproduce the whole thing here, but I'll just highlight a few things, although the juxtaposition of it all is brilliant.

Their interpretation of Psalm 130 included this:
If You, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand? For there is forgiveness with you; therefore You shall be feared. I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for Him. In his word is my hope.

I love the bit about His forgiveness leading us to fear. Because of His mercy, we are drawn to fearing Him and glorifying Him.

The prayer ended with this:
Lord, mold us and form us into the kind of people you want us to be. Be patient with us when we fall short of what love demands of us. And give us patience with ourselves. Catch us in the arms of your grace.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

As Per 1 Corinthians 1.

Christ is:  my wisdom
                    my righteousness
                    my sanctification
                    my redemption.
He is everything smart in me.
He is everything good in me.
He is everything holy in me.
He is everything clean in me.



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'll Have What They're Having.

Something that my Haley mentioned when she came to visit me was that in Hebrews 11 (you know the one that's called "The Hall of Faith"), it says that all of those faithful dudes died without having their hope fulfilled.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Hebrews 11:13.
Okay, so there's that.
I've been reading, rather sporadically, in Hebrews lately. Want to know a secret?
                                                                           Before, I never even liked Hebrews. I know it's horrible to not like a book of the Bible, but I just couldn't get into it. Shhhhh.
Regardless, when I came to this, I remembered what Haley said, and I got excited. I know it's kind of a funny verse to get excited about. It's essentially saying, you can do all the right things and have faith and be didactic and search for peace or joy or truth, and regardless of all that, it may never show. You may never see it. Um, yay?
But for some reason it gives me hope. They strove for something, for Christ, and strove and strived and strove. (I looked it up. You can use strove OR strived.) And, they never got it. They waved at it from across a super-vast space. And they were exiles on the earth. They were eternally uncomfortable and never felt the peace of being at home.
But still, this verse makes me feel clean. Cause even if they only greeted their Prize from afar off, they did see Him. They saw the warmth in His eyes, and the truth in His hand, and the peace in His gaze.
AND, best part: they had a reason to live. It may have looked illegitimate to those who saw them die before this unrevealed something came to fruition, but it wasn't. They were ransomed from futility. This is one of my favorite themes, if you will, of Christianity: We are ransomed from our futile ways (1 Peter 1:18-19). And, we are called to no longer walk in them (Ephesians 4:17).
And that, baby doll, is why I love the rest of this little Bit-O-Hebrews (That is a play on Bit-O-Honey).
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.(!!) If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 11:14-16.
What I'm saying is that I want in on that.