I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:21
I have been confronted with legalism in my life and my understanding of my Christian walk. I have recognized before in life that the church can quickly feel like a place where modern Pharisees gather, which is a reason that those peering in at the church from the outside often cringe. “It’s by grace you are saved! It’s free! Now here are the rules to follow.” We encourage each other with “pray more, read the Bible more” and yet our lives can feel so empty.
I’ve placed those restrictions on myself. I’ve got great tapes that run through my head when I’m not obeying the rules of my upbringing or my Christian culture. I so desperately want God’s acceptance in the same way I feel I have to earn it from those around me.
But the grace walk is different. The grace walk recognizes that our set of rules and regulations can’t save us – only Jesus can. Our list of Christian “to-dos” and ways we serve the fellowship don’t earn our acceptance with the heavenly Father – what Jesus did on the cross makes the only way for that. Jesus doesn’t want a maidservant, he wants a beautiful and passionate bride who loves to be with him, loves to adore him, loves to find what he loves and give that to him. Jesus wants our love and devotion and our gifts and sacrifices to flow from that place, not a place of duty.
The grace walk frees me to live in the reality I know so well. I can’t love those I find unlovable. I can’t be joyful. I can’t be self-controlled or give myself peace. Patience? Forget it. I just can’t do it! But God can, and wants to do that through me. I need to be an empty glove and just invite his powerful hand and heart to invade me every moment of every day. Then he will love others his way through me. He will be my life, and I will get that abundantly instead of whatever feeble bit I would have on my own efforts.
Letting God do his stuff through me, more like “God with a twist of Gwen” instead of “Gwen with a bit of God,” has been freeing. Realizing that while God does indeed want to work through me, he can do that much more effectively if I get out of the way ... get my “to-do lists” and “expectations to meet” and “definitions of what being a Christian is” and, most of all, my self-inflicted shame out of the way ... If I can walk through each hour asking “How do you want to love _______ through me right now?” then my life will take a much more heavenly hue.
I’d say I’m going to “work at that grace thing more,” but that then would not be grace, that would be my works. So it is a humorous and gentle thing while at the same time totally upsetting to the legalistic life I’ve been comfortable with. Just how does God want to do his thing through this mess? And, how do I really let go so that I can feel from head to toe and heart that he accepts me just as he made me?
Crazy, this God stuff! But the more I taste of it, the less satisfied I am with anything else.
You are so beautiful, so full, so powerful, so tender.
I love you and so want to love you more.
Show me yourself and soften my heart to take it all in.
Love through me, Lord. Radically turn my ways
Of looking at the world by making me “Jesus with a twist of Gwen!”
Invade me, holy one.
Be my life.
Written in 2006, this was a good reminder for me today. I pray it is the same for you! 2/1/06