Saturday, May 16, 2009

Religion v. the Gospel

from Tim Keller adapted by The Journey

“I obey-therefore I’m accepted.”

THE GOSPEL: “I’m accepted-therefore I obey.”

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.

THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.

THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.

THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.

THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.

THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I'm not confident. I feel like a failure.

THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am "simul iustus et peccator"—simultaneously sinful and lost yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’

THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.

THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.

HT: Vitamin Z

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Facebook jealousy

It probably all started when we were tiny and one of our parents told us not to tell our siblings about something that only we got to do like stay up a little later or lick the beaters when she was making cookies. Or perhaps when we were told by our teachers that if you want to share candy with a friend, you have to bring enough for the whole class. Or maybe it was when our moms handed us the birthday party invites and then told us that we had to make sure that we gave them out only at the end of the day...and then to be very secretive when we talked about it so no one's feelings got hurt.

Good intentions behind it, I'm sure, but it's left us with a lasting problem because we're not children. And the allowances that were made for us then should not be made for us now while we're in our 20s, 30s or (Lord, please, please, no) our 40s. I thought of this just this morning as I looked on Facebook and saw that some younger friends of mine are getting together for Bunco tonight. (P J Bunco...whatever that you win them? Wear them? Would I feel the pressure to go buy something new so that everyone thought that's what I actually wear to bed??)

I think I've played the game before. I can remember something years ago...maybe at a women's night out sometime. I get the point...roll a certain number in a set time. Yea. Okay. I can do that...but not for long. And knowing me as these ladies do, I thought it would be fun to write a little comment under the post that said something about my not being invited, don't they think I'd enjoy it, promising not to lecture on Romans 9, etc. But besides not being able to lie about the lecturing part, I hesitated in the middle of typing. Why did I stop? Why wouldn't that be funny?

Because we are grown women who don't obey the commands of God. Read these:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Romans 15:2

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit,
but in humility count others
more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

There are so many others...becoming a slave to all...serving one another...showing honor to others for their good...bearing with one another...the list goes on and on. We know it. We know that's what Christ did for us. Paul starts that Philippians 2 passage that way: have the mind of Christ who gave up everything for us. He wasn't concerned about His own pleasure but ours. He wasn't worried about being left out; He was worried about the fact that we were on the outside. He humbled one did it to Him. And He did it for us...and to leave us an example that we might follow after Him.

But our problem is that we read those Scriptures and wonder why no one's doing it for us. Who's looking out for my interests? Why aren't they humbling themselves to serve me? When am I going to get mine? Why don't they want me around? When is someone going to think about me?

He did, ladies. He did think about you. From eternity past, you've been right before Him. He knit you together...wonderfully, beautifully made my the hands of the Creator of stars and atoms. He took the time to not only plan your form but also your times and places. And then He carefully selected the opportunities you'd have in life, in His church...things that He knew you could do so well. And seal the idea to show us the depth of what He's willing to give us...He did not spare His own, only Son for us, but freely gave Him to die for us. Will He not together with Him freely give us all things?

Yeah. We get it. God loves us. But...sometimes it's just not enough for us, is it? We still feel so empty that we seek others to fill us up. And it makes us selfish, selfish creatures who can not rejoice when others rejoice. Instead we notice their rejoicing and turn it into a mirror, a reflection of our worth or of our lack. A house purchase makes us discontent with where we live. A child's grade on a test makes us feel like failure parents. A talent, a party, a dinner...good grief...even mentioning running errands with a friend or a date with a spouse brings envy. Not because we don't want good for them...but because we are so far from humble that others needs can not surpass our own. Consider them MORE important than ME?? Are you kidding?

But Christ didn't leave us here to memorize His commands, but to obey them and to teach others to do so. So, how do we start on this one? Paul already told us. Consider Christ. Think of the gospel. Know who we are...worms, broken pots, wretched women. Know what He did. Know what He left...honor, glory, riches, might, worship, comfort, peace, affection. Jesus gave up the party, gave up having others think well of Him, gave up being included, gave up the mansion...for us. And then know well who we are in Him...and pray to have it matter. Pray that God would make us servants as Christ was that we might truly want more for others than we do for ourselves.

Rejoice with them as they play Bunco tonight. Hope that they have a great time. Pray that it encourages them, refreshes them as young moms. Ask Him to bless them, build them up, and to make their words and actions so reflect the truths of the gospel that they leave knowing Him better than they did when they arrived.

And rest deep within you, knowing that Christ's death gained you more than the forgiveness of your sins. It gained you freedom from yourself, from your selfish agenda, from being a slave to sin...and made already are...alive together with Him. Are you so filled with the wonder of that truth that you are not in need today of Bunco? No? You know what to do. Click some links above and listen, yield and repent with me.

Then maybe we can log on to facebook and find a friend to encourage. Maybe, just maybe, one day a comment about not being included can just be funny because we'll all know the love of God for us in Christ Jesus. And that will finally be enough to make us full...and fully servants of others.