Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Careful now...

Checkbox Christianity, "Elder brother syndrome," it's all the same. It goes something like this...

- God owes me because I _____.
- If I just ______ than God will ______.
- If I just pray enough, read my Bible enough, serve enough, do enough good things, love enough people, than God will bless me.

Sure, few of us, if any, would intellectually agree with any of that. However, deep down I wonder how often we fall into a pattern of Christianity that essentially boils down to works based salvation. The problem with that? It's all about us. Our works, our deeds, our being good enough. And the problem with that? We're rubbish. All the good we could ever do will never overcome our sin. Where am I going with this? Read the following passage;

7 “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.8 You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous." (Nehemiah 9:7-8). 

The key words I want to focus on are the last four words; "because you are righteous." God didn't keep his promise with Abraham because of what Abraham did; he kept his promise because God is righteous. And remember when God made that covenant? He had to swear by Himself because nobody and nothing else was higher or worthy of Him to swear by. Anything God might possibly swear by other than Himself would be meaningless since HE CREATED it all in the first place (see Hebrews 6:13).

Remember also the book of Job? To be sure, Job received much misery that was probably un-deserved...but here's the problem. Who's to say what's un-deserved? Whenever we feel wronged, we tend to get defensive and justify ourselves for why we don't deserve it. In fact, Elihu, the only friend of Job who spoke truth to Him pointed this very thing out. He was angry at Job for justifying Himself rather than God. Put it another way, Job was essentially saying, "Hey, I checked off all the boxes and lived right...why is all this happening to me?"

It's so easy to do...self-justification, self-pity, self, self, self. How about this for deserving; an innocent man brutally murdered while the guilty ones got off totally un-punished? If we read that headline in a newspaper, we'd be outraged; and yet, isn't that exactly what Christ as done for YOU and ME?

What's the point, you ask? God's love is vast, and He loves to bless us. However, at the end of the day we must come to the place where we lay down our check-boxes as a pathway to God's favor, and instead pursue Him. Let me say it again; we must come to the place where toss out any notion that anything we do can cause God to owe us something, and replace that with the notion that God's love alone should motivate us to relentlessly and passionately pursue Him. In the end, God's promises to us are not dependent on us, but on Him. And that, my friend, is very good news.

"...know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and nob by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:16)

soli deo gloria
To God alone be the glory

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