Martin Luther said, “Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.”
For the last week I have been deeply pondering grace (again); not something new for me as I have actually become kind of a grace addict. (Ever since I was introduced years ago to John Lynch and TrueFaced ministries through one of my former Liberty University professors.)
I like it any form I can get it, I’m not fussy. I savor it like dark chocolate, a thick juicy grilled steak, fresh blueberries right off the bush, or strawberries off of the vine, summer sweet corn, or tomatoes warm out of the garden sun, some good Irish Breakfast tea and a hot scone on a cool day, or Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream on a hot one – preferably locally home-made. No high-fructose corn sugar or cheap imitations. The real McCoy – home-made, healthy, genuine goodness.
But I digress.
Grace is like that. A picnic of the finest food where we can eat and drink until our hearts are content. Stuffed with heavenly goodness.
Jesus is the sparkling living water that fills us up to brimming. We learn to love Jesus through faith alone – by grace – nothing of our own.
Because He first loved us.
“Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:9
Why is it that people come to Christ, so unworthy and filled with hope in the unconditional grace and acceptance of a Holy God, who loves us so completely he died for us – only to spend the rest of their Christian lives struggling to earn his love, acceptance, and salvation? Always striving to be better, be more, pray more, do more, read the bible more…
And sin less – definitely sin less…
…in some vain attempt to gain acceptance, or a misguided notion it is the path to righteousness?
How’s that been working for ya?
It sure didn’t work for me.
It was so very freeing when I learned how to jump from that Merry-Go-Round of works and more works, and never measuring up, to rest in the knowledge that my filthy rags can never be improved upon in comparison to the shining cloak of Christ. I get to undeservedly wear his righteousness despite my own ongoing failures, and nothing can ever separate me from the love of God. It sure makes me love Him more. He sure makes me a better person.
It was for freedom that Christ has set you free. Gal. 5:1
Sometimes the lure of an amusement park catches me unawares and I succumb to riding again, but now I know the road that leads me back home into the arms of grace and acceptance. I am learning it blindfolded. When I let His eyes lead me.
It’s called “No Condemnation to Those Who Walk in Christ Road,” and it is the MOST beautiful and peaceful road, and it never, ever, ever ends.
Isn’t the whole New Testament the story of a rag to riches fairy tale where we get turned from an ugly, wart covered, murky pond dwelling toad, into an absolutely breathtaking, princess – the bride of Christ- by the kiss of grace passionately bestowed upon us?
The kiss that makes us full heirs to the Kingdom? The marriage of all marriages. The marriage by a King who was willing to die for his bride to bestow that kiss. That beautiful, passionate kiss given to us by the lover of our souls.
Better than human kisses. Even better than the kiss of our earthly lovers or the sweet smell of a baby’s breath.
The kiss of spiritual life.
The more I used to strive to be like Christ, the more I failed. (And I have yet to meet anyone who can beat me in my former self-righteousness, or in my trust even if I die, you die or others die convictions. Something I’m not proud of, but I am completely forgiven.)
Don’t tell me about works, legalism, spiritual abuse, cults or “cheap grace. I spent year riding that Merry-Go-round that leads to rejection, anger and failure.
The road that leads to guilt and self-condemnation.
Round and round – try more.
Round and round – pray more.
Round and round – do more.
Round and round – submit to God more so the devil will flee.
Round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round….
It left me feeling sick to my stomach.
Always reaching for God.
Always falling short.
It left me spinning without direction.
Then I saw it. Right in front of me. Jesus was reaching for my hand standing on a path I’d had glimpses of before. A path I had even walked on before. It just seems too easy, too beautiful – to simply take his hand and accept it all.
It feels undeserved.
And it is.
The “No Condemnation to Those Who Walk in Christ Road” always lead to spiritual growth, because it’s where we are…
…despite my sin which is more starkly contrasted the closer I get to Jesus,
as His unconditional love is more starkly revealed…
…along with my inability to do absolutely anything to earn it.
Completely, utterly, forgiven.
We were sinners in our self-righteousness and God loved us anyway.
We were sinners in our works, and God loved us anyway.
We were sinners in our sin, and God loved us anyway.
We still are.
God loves us anyway.
How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Gal. 3:3
“It is finished.” John 19:30