Having “been there and come back”, nothing irritates me more than self righteous people (of whom I used to be one) who think they know all the answers about non-essential issues like family size, clothing, church attendance, music, and what-have-you. Actually, their beliefs don’t bother me as much. It’s the judgmental attitude that looks down on anyone who doesn’t believe the same way, or the trying, in a condescending, legalistic way to teach/enlighten others on “the truth”. I hate even bringing it up in blog-land. I believe it is a shame of the church that pretty much every denomination deals with….judging one another and trying to manipulate our own sanctification process. But I think it is important to talk about because this is the reason that we need to meditate more on the concept of grace, and also the reality of the LOVE of God toward sinners. I want to say what C.S. Lewis said, “Go further up and further in” … the life of a genuine, humble believer is just that—beautiful, attractive, lovely, not freakish or proud. Honestly, we all naturally suffer from making mistakes in our lives and speech (the Lord knows I often say or react in ways that are not very lovely) but IN GENERAL, I want to be the person who accepts, loves, listens, nurtures, and I want to go to a church where I feel safe and accepted, where the burdens of life are lifted for a while in the praise and adoration of my Savior (I am thankful that we do go to a church like that).
My mind and soul have been meditating on the grace and love of God because, really, these truths are the blessed antidote to the poison of self-righteousness and religiosity that looks to human good works rather than accepts the fact that we all NEED HIM for our everything, always. I search my Bible, books, and journals for the sweet truths of Christ that He has led me to through the years; and this Christian life is simple and beautiful. His ways are rest and peace, his burdens are light, He carries us in His loving arms and oh sometimes I just cannot seem to wait for the day when I am done with this life and on to glory-land!
This is from the book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen:
“In a works-righteousness system, if you stumble under the load you are carrying, the ministry you will receive will not be mercy and grace. You will not hear Matthew 5:3, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’–that is, ‘Blessed are those who recognize they can’t carry the load,’–‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Rather, you will be encouraged to ‘try a little harder’ and ‘do a little more.’ In some cases you may be shamed for ‘not being committed enough’.
There is also performance-based Christianity, a most common malady among Christians. It manifests itself this way. After having understood the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9—‘For by grace you have been saved…..’–and having had the load of sin removed for salvation, we then lay on a load of personal performance for sanctification, service, and to receive further blessings.
It works something like this. We are very careful to help people understand that Jesus is their only hope for salvation. ‘He saved us, not the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy’ (Titus 3:5) But for successful Christian living, we give the same message they had to reject in order to get saved. ‘Just do it’ ‘Try hard.’ ‘Do more.’ ‘It’s up to you.’ We pile up a load of expectations, regulations, formulas and rules. Almost without noticing, we begin to live the same way we did before we met Jesus, hoping that with all our effort we will someday, some way, measure up. But we never do measure up; we continue to carry the load and call it ‘the abundant life.’
This dynamic is really not that hard to spot. In a performance-based system, you will be the bearer of the burden. In a grace-based system, you will be constantly directed to Jesus as your only hope, encouraged to rest in Him as your only source of life and power.”
Come to the waters,
whoever is thirsty;
drink from the Fountain that never runs dry.
Jesus the Living One, offers you mercy,
life more abundant in boundless supply.
Come to the River that flows through the city,
forth from the throne of the Father and Son.
Jesus the Savior says, ‘Come and drink deeply.’
Drink from the one, inexhaustible One.
Come to the fountain without any money;
buy what is given without any cost.
Jesus, the gracious one, welcomes the weary:
Jesus, the selfless one, died for the lost.
Come to the well of unmerited favor;
Stretch out your hand; fill your cup to the brim.
Jesus is such a compassionate Savior.
Draw from the grace that flows freely from Him.
Come to the Savior, the God of Salvation.
God has provided an end to sin’s strife.
Why will you suffer the Law’s condemnation?
Take the free gift of the water of life.
James Montgomery Boice, 2000
Nothing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:19
Many hear God say, ‘do more’ and ‘do better’. But not, ‘Ive done it all for you-rest.
Yet this is what Jesus meant when He said, ‘Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden….
Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me…..
for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
….to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace….. Romans 8:6
Surely the Lord is my help; God is the one who sustains me. Psalm 54:4
I realize that I cannot articulate what is in my heart properly, but I wanted to share the best way I could, some of the things that I’m thinking about these days. My friends, you are loved and acceptable. Rest in Christ today. I have little ones playing outside. David caught a crayfish and wants to eat it, Jacob and Ethan are painting Grace’s room as she reads a book, a soccer game is playing loudly on the TV. I am going to get to work in the kitchen, to make a big corn-chip salad (our favorite summer lunch) and perhaps some pizza dough, too.
Have a great day!