Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Looking in the mirror

Part 2

Yeah. Keep a close watch on yourself. Not someone else. I knew I should have turned it off then. But I was caught and I could feel it. No sense wriggling when the hook is set, you know?

Matt pointed out what he called the bookends of the chapter. At the front end you have the understanding that there will be those around you that are not believers, who will come and go in the church. At the other end is Paul's summary exhortation to Timothy that there is a way to live and preach the gospel that will as Paul says save yourself and your hearers. And in between instead of a bunch of things to tell them or to do for them, there are a list of instructions for Timothy. The focus is on us.

Here's the heart of what I received from his message...italicized sentences are Matt's...

Verse 6: Be trained in the gospel ~
Getting the gospel right matters. And mostly we have to distinguish between what the gospel is and what morality is. When we teach people what to do and how to live without the foundation of Christ crucified what you’ve done at best is restrain the hearts of people, but you won’t see their hearts transformed. If you don’t get the gospel right, you will inoculate your people to Jesus. You give them just enough of Him to never know Him. The gospel matters.

Translation: If we don't stop focusing on how people behave and focus them on what Christ has done, we will give them enough of Jesus to make them think they know Him, when all they will know is a how-to and how-not-to list that will never get them to the cross. We must give them Jesus. Let it stir up your affections. We must be experts in the gospel. Give them the cross so that when they see Him they not only recognize Him, but praise Him rightly.

When doctrine fades, worship fades. Seeing God rightly stirs the affections of the soul. If you see Him wrongly then even with affections this clarify this, Matt gave a great analogy:
Let's say I just feel really stirred up toward my wife. I don't know what did it. I just know that all of a sudden I love that woman. So I walk into our house and she's sitting on the couch...and I get down on my knees in front of her and just grab hold of her and tell her, "Baby, I just love you so much. I mean my heart hurts, I love you so much. I don't know if it's your black hair or your deep, brown eyes...but I am crazy about you."

And some of you may go, "Well, that's really sweet of you Chandler." And it would be really sweet...except my wife is a blond and she has blue it's going to go bad for me.

Seeing God rightly leads to us being transformed...leads to humility...leads to godliness.
God's already been working on me in this area. As I'm teaching through When I Don't Desire God, Piper is hammering this point right now. We must know the difference between justification and sanctification. We must know how to fight the good fight in a way that doesn't take the grace out of the gospel and replace it with all the stuff we do. Our goal must be to continue to follow Paul's example of being resolved to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.

Especially in my home with the girls this can be so hard. How many times a day do we moms have to correct behavior? Stop hitting that. Eat that. Don't eat that. Don't say that. Say that. Don't touch that. Pick that up. Don't do that. You better do that. Don't jump on that. Don't throw that. Stop. Go. Come here. Come here. Come here! AAAAHHHH! Sorry...flashback to the toddler days...

But at some point as the girls grow in their ability to understand (which is much sooner than we realize) we have to move out of do's and don't's...well, it's not so much move out of them as reveal the undergirding of it all. We have to show them Christ. We have to reveal Him as lovely as He really amazing as He really worthy as He really that there is reason to obey. They have to see the problem of sin in them and in me. They have to understand who they are in that sin so that they can see the cross of Christ as amazing as it really is that God would send His Son to become sin for them...His enemies...while they were still mired in that sin. Christ died to free them to obey. We do it for love of Him, not to gain us anything with Him.

Oh, how hard a message it is to overcome in our kids when we've told them for years what good girls they are...especially when they do good for us. Good girl, Cassie! You cleaned your room! Wow, Brennan! You did great! Then we turn the message on them somewhere (or maybe we'll just let the Sunday school teachers do it!) and try to tell them that they are dreadful sinners in need of saving. And that their good works have earned them nothing but wrath. Hard transition, isn't it?

It hit home to me that I am as guilty as anyone out there at giving my girls morality instead of the gospel...which can leave them with the taste in their mouths that doing matters more than becoming. Oh, how far from the gospel is that message. They must know the heart of their unworthiness of God to feel the impact of the cross rightly.

Understand, I want my girls to know we're proud of be their biggest be the first to cheer and the first to celebrate them. But there must be an undergirding that it is who they are that we delight in not in their performance. I don't want to make wives who need to achieve and want men who will perform rightly for them. I want a generation of homes which permeate the grace of God that is given while we are yet sinners. Who pursue obedience because of His great love...not to earn it. Who stand for right though the heavens fall...not because it's the ticket to God's pleasure but because God is my right.

I can hear Candace in my what's that look like? Well, to start it means focusing on ourselves just as Matt has taught. The problem is what's coming out of me. I need to focus hard on the gospel. I need to understand rightly what happened on that cross. I need a clear picture of Isaiah 6...and Isaiah 50-54...and Ezekiel 16...and Ezekiel 36...and Zechariah 3...and Romans 1-16...and Ephesians 2...Philippians 2...and so many more.

It is not as easy as say this and do that...or stop that and start this...we must be transformed by renewing our minds in the gospel of Christ. We must know ourselves who we were and be amazed at this Christ. We must have a word ready to identify with their lead them to Jesus. Not to say Jesus doesn't like that. But that Jesus died for that. We must be ready to rejoice when they do any good in this world not because it means they are good little girls, but because it reflects rightly the image of God in us. We must become students of Scripture. We must know, deeply know what it is when we say gospel.

Can you feel it like can that you need work in this area? I've begun by starting a new John Piper book called Finally Alive. You can buy it here...but if, like me, finances aren't available right now, join me in reading it free online. I can't say enough how much I appreciate Desiring God and the fact that almost all of their material is free online. Also, if you just really want the book in your hands, but can't afford it...just call them. They'll let you have it for whatever you can pay. Promise.

The work is not in our words but in our hearts. And I know it. But I can feel myself wriggling on the hook. But this isn't even the hardest hit I took from his message...I know...exhausting isn't it? Now you see why I can't blog when I'm under the knife...

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