Wednesday, July 20, 2005

standing with God

Last night we hosted our weekly neighborhood group, about 15 people from our church in a smaller group setting. The topic continues to be the book of Romans, specifically the second part of chapter 2. As someone who grew up in the church and has not known life apart from church community, the words hit very close to home. Paul is rebuking the Jews for utilizing their circumcision--outward acts and obedience to the law--as a trump card of faith. The rules have been passed down from generation, and the check-lists were in abundance to say, "well, I didn't murder anyone today and I didn't work on the Sabbath." If sin were that simple to fence in, life would look different here on earth; But the reality is that sin is revealed in the heart and is so much more prevalent in every human (apart from Jesus) than anyone would like to admit.

Christians let down other Christians as well as non-believers. The longer we follow the myth that actions are the only measure of faith, the further we remove ourselves from acknowledging the depth of Jesus' sacrifice and the need in every human for that salvation. The minute I say, "I stand before God righteous because of Jesus and....(I was a good person today, I helped someone today, etc.)" is the minute I deny the full measure of God's grace and love. And if that is happening within, it is magnified before others. A Christian cannot not be hypocritical. One of the biggest steps of genuine faith based on salvation in Christ alone may be to admit that I am a hypocrite...and there is nothing I can do to earn righteous standing before God, apart from the power of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection transforming me.

We do not lower expectations, expecting failure and misery, though. The Gospel gives us the ability to see the limitations of man mixed with the greatness and sovereignty of God toward the benefit of His kingdom on earth and to come. We look ahead even more expectantly, knowing that we are going somewhere and we are not alone in our journey. We are pilgrims with a destination and a place of departure, given a mode of transportation and a community to join us along the way. To the glory of God and for His delight.


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