Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Journey to Beloved: Rules don't lead to heart-felt obedience; gracedoes.


What would it look like if Satan took over? A lot like we are trying to make it look.

If there is one thing Jesus hated with a passion it was moralism.

This world is destined to perish. It IS at war with Christ.

I'll be pondering this today.

And I want a copy of that book! (Hi, my name is Shannon. I am a bibliophile...)

The grace of Jesus.

Wrapped in simplicity,  a most unconditional love that defies all logic.

So hard to grasp- we as humans naturally want to define it, add to it, humanize it.

Moralize it.

Perfect it with our fleshly performance.

In the opening lines of Michael Horton’s book Christless Christianity. He writes:
What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over half a century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia (the city where Barnhouse pastored), all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday…where Christ is not preached.

Reading this quote was like deja vu.
I had been there before. I had been a part of a world that looked like this.
Moralism and Performance Christianity at it's finest.
Moralism in itself is not a bad thing, we should strive to do good, make right choices and live above reproach- but what, may I ask, separates a moral person from a Christian?

I separated from the world in my dress, my music and my company of friends. My world was tidy, friendly and pristine. My children said, "Yes sir" and "No ma'am". My life for a time was a perfect example of moral excellence
-and yet-
underneath the perfect facade of rules, morality and performance was a  bleeding, injured and sinful soul who either walked in arrogance, Pharisaical judgment and pride because  I was able to "white knuckle it" by performing, doing, separating and walking in moral excellence in my own strength
I walked as a broken hopeless heart who never being able to measure up or look the part was crushed under the weight of my own sin.

If there is one thing Jesus hated with a passion it was moralism.

When we change the story of the Bible from the gospel of grace to a book of morals like Aesop's fables, things go wrong.

But what of grace?
The Gospel is not good advice to men but good news about Christ; not an invitation to do, but a declaration of what God has done.

The truth is religion or moral greatness never set me free- in the words of Jason Grey in his song, More Like Falling In Love " All religion made of me was a sinner with a stone tied to my feet...falling in love with Jesus made the change in me."
The path to holiness is through the grace of the gospel because only undeserved grace can truly melt and  transform the heart.
The compelling truth of the gospel is that the Grace of Jesus Saved me.

His Grace accepts me,

not because of what I do or don't do because of what He did for me.
When I become discouraged at my ongoing disobedience, its the realization that Jesus obeyed for me which keeps me from giving up and giving in.

My heart focused on the proper view of the grace of Jesus cannot swell with pride, it cannot dwell in condemnation or shame.
Only peace can  ensue.
For years I feared "too much grace" but the truth is that God's grace toward us is not a lessening of his demands. Grace is experienced when we realize these demands have already been met in Jesus.
Such a simple word.
Such a powerful and awe inspiring truth.
His grace saved me and for that my heart swells.
You are loved beloved one-not because of what you do or don't do but because of His grace.
Isn't that good news?


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